Just read about German green zones requiring a tag. How is this handled with rental cars? Do the car rental companies equip their vehicles with the tags? If not, how does one leave a green area if the car is rented in one? And, how does one access a hotel in a green zone or return a vehicle within a green zone?
I'm regularly in Germany and usually have a car available for free, i.e. I only pay for gas. Still, in a lot of cases I leave it behind and take a bike or the train. And in a lot of cases I'm very glad that I do have access to a car, especially in rural areas. Public transportation gets much spottier there. And forget about it in the evenings.
One example: a couple of years ago we spent a week at a castle overlooking the Rhine. One evening I wanted to take my daughter to a concert in Cologne. We could have done the entire trip by train - in theory. And that was my first thought. Decided instead to take the car. Stuck in a traffic jam for an hour on the "speed-limit-free" Autobahn I thought I had made a mistake. We barely made it to the concert at the "Tanzpalast" in time. After the concert which lasted till 11 pm I was glad I had the car. There would have been no way to get back to the hostel by public transit at that time. The concert was a fantastic experience (Johnny Clegg and a bunch of other South African musicians - all for free!) and I'm glad that the car made it so much easier for us to take advantage of this opportunity. Without it, we would have had to stay overnight in Cologne, adding a substantial amount to the cost of the outing and impacting the plans we had for the next day.
Europe's public transit system is fantastic and as a traveler you should take advantage of it. But be aware of what kind of traveling you'd like to do, what kind of areas you're visiting. There are places and occasions when a car makes more sense.
I don't live in Germany any more but travel there regularly and have never heard of such "green zones". What is it? Do you have a link to a website on their description?
It looks to me like the cites requiring environmental tags are ones with good public transit, i.e., cars are not necessary.
I light of Germany's great public transit, you really should look at using it before just assuming you need a car.
Beatrix, here is the link http://www.umwelt-plakette.de/int_england.php?SID=js9eb7lu4kg3kcssqi8vq1ijq4
Lee, I am a fan of public transit, however, there are times when I prefer to drive. My query is not so much about driving within the cities themselves as it is about getting out of a city with a rental car, entering a city for a hotel, or entering a city to return the car. Yes, I know, I could rent a car at an airport and return to an airport, presumably outside a city's green zone. However, this involves higher fees which I prefer to avoid.
I think david refers to green (=highest) graded Umweltzones ("environmental zones" - a misnomer because it's only a classification of particulate matter emissions).
As of 2009 there are just red zones and a few yellow ones.
Yes, rental cars (at least in cities with those zones) usually do have these stickers.
That isn't a law or something, but it would be awfully hard for them to rent their cars otherwise, wouldn't it?
We've had a thread about this just a few weeks ago and all the details are mentioned there. All German rental cars come with the respective (in almost every case green) environmental stickers. The problem is if e.g. you want to take your Austrian rental car into Munich or something like that. In that case tell your car rental provider as early as possible about your plans as they can order those stickers online for a small fee.
I just recently read about this. From what I understand but have not experienced, rental cars typically would have a tag. If it does not you pay X euro when entering these areas. It seems it was a minimal amount. Have not been to Germany since the 70s. I am planning a trip in 2010. Glad to hear I will not need a car because I plan to use train.
I have spent over 100 days in Germany this century and only once drove a car. A friend leant me his to drive to a neighboring town after the rail lines were washed out in a flash flood the night before.
In 2004 I spent 5 days on the middle Rhine, using the trains to see Bacharach, Oberwesel, St. Goar, Boppard, Koblenz, and Braubach. I wanted to go to Burg Eltz, but that day it was raining, and I didn't want to hike a mile or so in the rain. If I had had a rental car, I could have gone to Burg Eltz, but they wanted $100 for a one day rental and I decided it wasn't worth it, and I found something else interesting to do that day.
Everyone here knows that you like public transportation and most of the times it is cheaper. Most if not all of us like public transportation because it works so well. Sometimes some people just like to open the windows and cruise down the road. It is relaxing to alot of people. The thread did not start because of a debate on what type of transportation to use. You changed the topic on this one.
Thank you Andreas for a to the point answer. Also thank you Paul, I was about to respond to Lee and point out that I had asked a specific question and that his response did nothing but use electrical energy to process.
Bill: "If it does not you pay X euro when entering these areas."
No, that's not how it works. These zones aren't a kind of congestion charges, they're zones were only vehicles with particulate matter emissions under a certain threshold are allowed to paticipate in road traffic.
We have something similar in America. Every year my car must pass an emission test to get it re-registered. The only problem is that some cars are grandfathered and exempted as they are too old.
Germany also has a plan where they give a person 2500 euros towards a new car if they scrap an old car, taking some older polluters off the road. Plus it might improve the overall gas mileage of the nation's fleet of cars. It is a stimulus measure and has spurred car purchases.
@Gary Mc: The German equivalent of that would be the bi-annual Abgasuntersuchung "emission inspection" (in 2010 this will be integrated into the bi-annual road-safety inspection).
The Umweltzonen are a much stricter local regulation of just fine particle emissions which are (rightly or wrongly) regarded as a more localized problem.
Andreas reply is spot on. It won't be a problem unless you are renting the car outside of Germany. I spent a lot of time last September trying to figure this all out-re-read Andreas reply and you will be fine.
I did a lot of research, as well as posts on this website. After talking to Europcar, they have the stickers. We are renting in Austria and driving to Germany, so they said we could buy one at the time of rental. Hope this helps! Deanna
Thank you Andreas and Deanna for responses that actually address the question. As I am renting in Cologne and returning in Munich, it appears that I should be confident that the car will have the green sticker.