The vast majority of the sights in Vienna are fortunately very close together. However, for the ones that aren’t, the Austrian city offers a variety of transportation options that are easy to navigate for wheelchair users.
1. Rolling through the city. Vienna’s sidewalks are in marvelous condition, with no shortage of curb drops. There are still a few sections that contain cobblestones, although the city is in the process of replacing the remaining sections with flat pavers. Unless you’re crossing a plaza (or platz), many times you can cross the street for a cobblestone-free situation on the other side. I use an electric scooter, and I found the city extremely easy and manageable to get around with it. There are so many little hidden gems in corners and at the end of narrow alleyways in Vienna, and honestly this is the best way to get a real feel for the city and the people.
2. The underground subway (U-bahn). The U-bahn is a great way to get to the farther reaches of the city very quickly. Pretty much all of the stations have elevators (lifts) to reach the platforms, and were in working condition the days I was there. Make sure you know which direction you’re going in by checking the station at the end of each line. You will also need to wait for one of the newer trains, as the older ones are not accessible. Make sure that when the train arrives, you line up with the LAST CAR. This car has a metal extender that bridges the gap between the car and the platform. You must also push the round circle on the door to open it. If you are using a power wheelchair or scooter, you will need some speed for momentum so you don’t get stuck getting into the car. It’s okay to be vocal to let riders know you need some space to enter, as fellow riders are very accommodating.
3. City trams. The tram line map can be a bit challenging to decipher, so make sure that you know which line you need and in which direction you’re going. When getting ready to board the tram, make sure you line up with the FIRST CAR, and wave to the conductor as the tram approaches so he/she can see you plan to board. You will need to press the round button with the wheelchair symbol on it to open the door. The conductor will then get out to unfold a wheelchair ramp embedded in the car floor. When you choose to exit, press the button next to you in the wheelchair compartment with the wheelchair symbol on it right before your stop. The conductor will then unfold the ramp again.
4. City buses. I did not personally use the bus while I was in Vienna. However, the vast majority of them are accessible and have low floors, deployable ramps, and reserved spaces for wheelchair users. Make sure the bus driver sees you at the stop so he/she knows you intend to board.
5. High-speed rail. In case you’re looking to explore other parts of Austria, or even nearby cities in neighboring countries, you’ll have access to an excellent high-speed rail system in Vienna. I used ÖBB’s Railjet service to travel direct to Munich at the end of my stay, and it was a piece of cake. I booked my wheelchair space via email (you can’t do it online or over the phone), which you’ll need to do at least two days before you travel. I was met at their ticket office at the Hauptbahnof station half an hour before departure, and they escorted me to the platform. When my train arrived, they used an electric lift attached to the railcar to load me in, and once aboard I was able to self-transfer to a more comfortable seat for the four-hour scenic trip. In Munich, they were expecting me and unloaded me via lift the same way. For more information about ÖBB’s mobility services, click HERE.
6. Uber. Surprise, Uber is in Vienna! If you’re able to transfer into a sedan and have either a collapsible wheelchair or an electric travel scooter that comes apart, you can call for and pay for an Uber in Vienna just like in the US. The UberBlack fleet consists of Mercedes E-class sedans or wagons, so there’s plenty of space for your mobility aid in the trunk. The prices for UberBlack are reasonable considering the vehicle and extra service.
For more details about the accessibility of public transportation in Vienna, you can visit their official website HERE.