Confusion under the central train station Passage blocked off: visitors have difficulty finding their way from tram to bus

Bonn · Friedhelm Funke looks rather helpless. He got off tram line 66 and is now standing in front of a wooden panel which is blocking direct access to the bus station. Holding his head to one side doesn’t help him to understand the information board.

“Where do I find the bus station?” he asks, shaking his head. While the local commuters pass him by, the man who is from Munich asks for the way. “The signs should be easier to understand” he says.

The passage underneath the train station has been completely blocked off for a week already. The construction company Ten Brin­ke, responsible for building the Maximiliancenter opposite the train station which should be completed by the end of 2018/2019, has closed off both ends of the tunnel with massive wooden panels. According to the site manager Chris­ti­an van de Loo, the supply lines in the former previous underground shopping area have already been disconnected. Demolition work on the roof has also already started. The Stadtwerke (public utilities) are dismantling the escalators, substation and lighting behind the walls.

During the two year demolition and building works, commuters will have to go above ground to reach the bus station. This is not a problem for those who know the area. But for visitors like Funke, it is more difficult. The Stadwerke have now taken action and erected additional larger signs next to the unhelpful information boards with the maps. These signs give better and more comprehensive directions from the tram station to the bus station. American tourist Ste­pha­nie Lee is travelling in the other direction. For passengers arriving at the bus station, it is easy to miss the small laminated information sheets on the posts. “It is difficult”, admits the American, “but you have to look on the bright side. At least it is a way to get talking to the locals.”

Melina Bauer, travelling with her two year old daughter in a pushchair, is pleased about the specially built lift. “Except you can’t find it very easily” says the Bonn resident and wishes there were a few more large signs. The lift can be accessed from the path between the escalators to the tram lines and comes out to the right at the level of the Bon­ner Loch. The lift is available to assist disabled people, those travelling with heavy luggage and families with pushchairs travelling from ground level up as far as the Cas­si­us-Gar­ten restaurant.

Ten Brin­ke, the city council and the Stadtwerke remain in contact about the signage. Spokeswomen for the SWB, Ver­oni­ka John, said in response to our enquiry, “so far, we have only received one complaint that the signposting is insufficient and too small.” Action has been taken and “we will keep an eye on the situation”.

It would seem that local commuters have got used to the changing walkways around the construction site. Van de Loo says: “From our point of view, it has really improved.” After putting up the fences, many people at first ignored the blocked-off areas and did not use the signposted paths. But now for example, people are taking more notice of the fences which are have been set up to prevent crossing over Ma­xi­mi­li­ans­tra­ße.

(Original text: Sa­rah Bert­ram & Phi­lipp Kö­nigs, Translation: Caroline Payne)

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