Formed in 2002 from the restructuration of Munich’s SWM Verkehrsbetrieben (the municipal bureau of transportation), MVG is the municipally-owned company responsible for the management of Munich’s extensive pubblic transportation network. MVG operates’s Munich U-Bahn network, the second-largest in Germany behind the much-older Berlin U-Bahn, a decently-sized conventional tramway network, and an extensive bus network with frequent lines operated mostly with articulated busses.
The U-Bahn, whose first section opened in 1971, is 103Km long, and is formed by six lines numbered U1 to U6, all with identical technical specifications: 1435mm gauge, same loading gauge and same 750v DC bottom-contact third rail electrification.
The network is peculiar in the fact that it’s actually formed of three proper “main” lines, each served by two services that later branch off in different directions – the so-formed “families” of lines are U1+U2, U3+U6 and U4+U5 plus the rush-hour U7 and saturday-evening-only U8, both of wich run on a mixture of the “regular” lines’ tracks. Each line is set to a 5-minutes frequency, resulting in a 2m30s interval in the central shared section of each “line family”. During off-peak hours the frequency is halved to 10 minutes (or 5 in the shared section).
Another peculiar fact is that the Munich U-Bahn is highly inter-connected, to the point of becoming effectively seamless from an operational standpoint: the whole network is operated by a single central control center and all the rolling stock can be (and is) used interchangeably on all lines, something helped by the fact that the network only has one depot (located near Fröttmaning stop on Line U6) and a small storage yard south of Neuperlach Süd on Line U5. Otherwise, stabling sidings and connecting tracks between the various lines are in plentiful supply.
All lines are operated with six-car trains thruought the day, except Line U4, wich is operated by shorter trains (“Kurzzug”) formed as 4-car sets. Short trains are also operated on the other lines during times of low demand, such as early morning and late evening. In any case, platform info displays will always show wether the arriving train is a 6-car train or a Kurzzug.
On the other had, the tramway network is formed of 83Km of trackage (of wich 52 Km, more than half, on their own right-of-way separated from automobile traffic) and is served by 13 routes calling at 179 stops. Line 23 is peculiar as it is completely isolated from the rest of the network.
With the official retirement of the last P-type tramcar in 2016 (after a decade of intermittent services), the Munich tramway network is now operated by a fleet of 106 exclusively-low floor trams, divided into three series: a majority of ADtranz GTxN types built between 1990 and 2001 (classified as R-types) togheter with Stadler Variobahns (classified as the S-types) and Siemens Avenios (classified as T-types).
Finally, the bus network is formed of several routes divided into four categories: express busses (two-digit route number plus an “X”), the so-called “Metro Busses” (the highest-ridership lines, with two-digit route numbers), the “Stadtbus” lines (wich operates only withing the Munich city boundaries, with three-digit route number) and the “Taxi-Bus”, a on-call minibus service during the night. MVG has a fleet of 630 busses (all low-floor) 420 of wich are of the articulated type. The majority of the fleet is formed of superb Mercedes-Benz Citaros from both the 1st and 2nd generation (C1 and C2) togheter with several MAN Lion’s City. In more recent times, a handful of the successful Solaris Urbinos have been purchased as well.
MVG itself is a “GmbH”, a limited company under german law, fully owned by Stadtwerke Munchen, the “City Works” company of Munich (a former municipal bureau re-structured as a company togheter with MVG in 2002) wich operates the city’s pubblic utitilites: power, gas, water, sewage, litter and so on. Both are still fully pubblic companies owned jointly by the Munich city council and the government of the Land of Bavaria.
During the daytime, the U-Bahn system is operated semi-automatically using the LZB system. However, to maintain the drivers’ skills, the first train of the day is operated manually, and so are all trains evry day from 23:00 (when the LZB system is switched off) to the end of services. On Sundays all trains are manually operated from the start to the end of services for the same reason.
MVG actually has a mandatory quota of manual-driving hours evry driver on the roster must fullfill each month.
At 36Km/h, the Munich U-Bahn has the highest average speed of all U-Bahn networks in Germany.