Farewell – Help by Gregor Samimi, specialist lawyer for traffic law and specialist lawyer for criminal law in Berlin.
Updated on 26.07.2019, 13:13, by RA Gregor Samimi
If you use public transport without a valid ticket, you may have to pay a high price for it. Fare evasion is not a trivial offense, because the fraudulent use of services is a criminal offense according to. § Section 265a of the German Criminal Code (StGB). Thus, the Berlin judiciary alone deals with ca. 40.000 cases of fare evasion every year, about 300 of them have to serve their sentence in prison due to lack of ability to pay. The obscurity of numbers However, the number of fare evaders is even higher: it was estimated that in 2016 there were about 300 million fare evaders nationwide.
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What you need to know about "fare evasion in Berlin" can be found in the following article.
Increased transportation charge as a contractual penalty
If the passenger boards the subway, S-Bahn, streetcar or bus in Berlin, he or she enters into a contract of carriage and accepts the general terms and conditions of carriage of the Berlin-Brandenburg Transport Association (VVB). Excerpts from this can be seen at the stops and the underground and suburban railroad stations. For transportation, the passenger must pay an appropriate transportation fee in the form of a ticket. If the passenger is not able to show a valid ticket, he will be charged according to. § 9 of the conditions of carriage of the VVB on the payment of an increased fare Transport charge in the amount of 60 EUR obligates. In § 9 paragraph 2 of the VVB conditions of carriage it is stated:
"In the cases referred to in paragraph 1, the transport company shall charge an increased fare of 60.00 EUR in each case. However, it may charge twice the fare for a one-way trip on the route traveled by the passenger, if this results in a higher amount than under sentence 1; in this case, the increased fare may be calculated according to the starting point of the line, if the passenger can not prove the distance traveled."
In the event that the passenger is unable to identify himself/herself during a check, an additional 5 EUR will be charged for personal verification at the State Residents’ Office.
It is possible to pay the fare directly at the checkpoint. However, the passenger can also pay within 14 days after receiving a written request for payment. Payment in installments is also possible from time to time. This is further stated in § 9 paragraph 2 of the VVB conditions of carriage:
"If the passenger is not able to immediately pay the total amount of 60.00 EUR, he can pay a partial amount of 10.00 EUR. A receipt is issued for the paid amount of 60.00 EUR or 10.00 EUR, which is valid as a travel authorization within the framework of the tariff. It entitles to terminate the journey until leaving the used means of transport. If the increased fare cannot be paid or deposited on the spot, it is necessary to buy an appropriate ticket in order to continue the journey"
In case of non-payment or partial payment of the increased transportation fee, the passenger will receive a request for payment handed out or sent by mail. The outstanding amount is to be paid within 14 days to the respective transport company or to the transport authority. to be paid to a collection agency commissioned by the latter. If the increased transportation fee is not paid within the time limit set in the request for payment, a processing fee of at least 5.00 EUR will be charged for each written reminder."
Escape attempt – a good idea?
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Read also: What are ticket inspectors allowed to do, what rights do fare evaders have?? – Gregor Samimi clarifies in the Oberhessische Zeitung.
What happens if I do not pay the increased transportation fee?
If the passenger does not pay within the set time limit, he/she will receive a written reminder for which a handling fee of at least 5 EUR will be charged (§ 9 paragraph 2 of the VVB Conditions of Carriage). In all probability, a collection agency will then contact the fare dodger to demand the money. However, it is disputed whether the additional collection costs must also be paid. It is doubtful whether the payment slip that the passenger receives after the inspection or the renewed written request for payment in the form of the reminder will start the time limit for the payment. Only then there should be a delay and the possible collection fees should be justified. The simple payment slip is probably not enough as a rule.
Tip: Write the BVG resp. contact the VVB and ask for proof of receipt of the reminder. Only if the passenger has also received it, he must also pay the collection costs.
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It is also questionable whether the BVG or. VVB is allowed to outsource the collection of contractual penalties to collection agencies because they themselves have legally trained personnel and could therefore violate the duty to mitigate damages.
What happens if I have a valid ticket but do not have it with me during an inspection?
In this case, the passenger must prove to the administration of the transport company within one week from the control that he had a valid ticket at that time. If he can provide this proof, the increased transport charge of 60 EUR is reduced to 7 EUR (§ 9 paragraph 3 of the transport conditions of the VVB).
Defective ticket vending machines in the train or on the track
If a ticket vending machine is defective, the obligation to buy a ticket is not automatically cancelled. If there are several vending machines on a platform, all of them must first be tried out. If the existing machines do not work, the passenger should turn to the nearest emergency call and information column. People in this situation should first and foremost make a note of the ticket vending machine number. If the passenger then gets into a ticket control, it is then sufficient to refer to the information provided by the employee of the emergency call and information desk. The inspector will check this fact.
There is also often the possibility to buy a ticket from the bus driver or from a mobile vending machine in the streetcar. If this is also not possible because the mobile ticket vending machine is also defective and no service personnel can be found, the passenger may also use the means of transport free of charge to the next station with a vending machine. However, the passenger is obliged to buy a ticket when transferring to the next means of transport. Section 6(2) of the VVB Conditions of Carriage literally states:
"The passenger shall purchase a ticket before starting the journey. If there are no points of sale or ticket vending machines at stations or stops, the tickets must be obtained immediately and without being asked from the train or service personnel or from the ticket office. to purchase the ticket at the mobile ticket vending machine in the means of transport. If it is not possible to buy a ticket to the destination at the start of the journey, a ticket for the connecting route must be bought when transferring to the next means of transport, if necessary also from a ticket machine. There is no entitlement to have the first fare paid off against the fare between the point of origin and the point of destination."
Tickets can now also be purchased on the move as cell phone tickets. This way the passenger can be sure that he has a valid ticket in case of a control without having to get off again.
Furthermore, tickets must be validated before the start of the journey. If the validators at the track or at the bus stop are defective, the devices in the train or the bus are to be used here as well. If there are no validators in the means of transport, the passenger must hand over his ticket to the staff for validation without being asked (§ 6 paragraph 3 of the conditions of carriage of the VVB).
Obtaining benefits acc. § Section 265a of the German Criminal Code – StGB
As a general rule, anyone who uses local public transport without a valid ticket is liable to the fraudulent use of a transport service punishable according to § 265a StGB:
- Whoever deceives the service of a vending machine or a telecommunication network serving public purposes, the transportation by a means of transport or the admission to an event or an institution with the intention of not paying the fee, shall be punished by imprisonment for up to one year or by a fine, if the act is not punished by more severe punishment in other provisions.
- The attempt is punishable".