The jungle of tariffs in public transport repeatedly results in fare evasion penalties for passengers who accidentally buy the wrong ticket. These tricks help against problems.

Fare evasion inspectors in German trams, S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains often issue expensive fines to well-meaning passengers because they have carelessly purchased the wrong ticket. FOCUS online has discussed tips with Julia Zeller from Verbraucherzeller Bayern, with which you can avoid penalties and react correctly if you run into problems.

The case: A passenger with a ticket valid from 9 a.m. got on a train that was supposed to depart at 8.55 a.m., but did not leave until 9.10 a.m. due to the delay. The inspector referred to the timetable and punished the guest as a fare dodger, reports Zeller. The lawyer involved fought off the penalty.

The tip: In this case, the right was clearly on the part of the passenger, emphasizes Zeller. His ticket was valid for the train used, the controller made a mistake.

The lawyer is only worthwhile in comparable cases, according to expert Zeller. Anyone who was traveling with an invalid ticket should save themselves the lawyer. If the train punishes, it is right – even if the passenger accidentally bought the wrong ticket. No lawyer can change that: “The passenger has the responsibility to inform themselves before using a service.”

In these cases, passengers could only hope for goodwill from the company. “Sometimes that works,” says Zeller. You’ve seen it all; the companies decide on a case-by-case basis. The problem: If they show goodwill once, they would always have to do it in similar cases out of equality. So they often remain harsh and insist on the punishment.

Zeller advises turning on the consumer advice center before going to the lawyer – and best of all to prevent problems through planning.

The case: The Münchner Merkur reported on a Hamburg couple who, when visiting the Bavarian capital with two relatives, had bought the ticket for Ring Drei in order to take the S-Bahn to the city center. They had done everything right in their home country, they explained: Rings one and two are automatically included with the purchase of ring three in Hamburg. In Munich, however, the ticket only referred to ring three.

The controller caught the group of four in the area of ​​ring two. Four times fare evasion, 240 euros penalty. The railways rejected the objection.

The tip: In order to avoid similar nasty surprises, Zeller advises visitors to foreign cities to plan their journey.

If none of these options work, for example because passengers have to catch the train at short notice, other passengers are happy to help with choosing the right ticket. Zeller advises: “If in doubt, just ask.”

The case: A passenger had purchased several tickets from the machine in order to be equipped for his entire trip. As usual in his hometown, he stamped the tickets at the start of the tram journey. However, they had already been canceled by the vending machine. From the second day, the person unknowingly drove with invalid tickets, was checked and had to pay the full fine.

The tip: Anyone who has been used to a local transport system all their life can often hardly imagine what is different in other cities. Zeller advises paying particular attention to three details so that train passengers do not experience a nasty surprise despite planning:

Zeller says that with a little planning, you can use public transport even in a foreign city. “Buying a ticket for all zones, just to be on the safe side, I think is disproportionate.”

Everyone feels the high inflation in their wallets. Everyday goods have also become very expensive in recent months. In this e-paper we give you tips that pay off immediately in hard cash: be it because you adjust your consumption behavior here and there – or use clever helpers such as apps to save.

According to Zeller, anyone who, despite all the tips, is worried about penalties when starting their journey can hope for improvement: the EU rail passenger rights regulation has been revised. The German legislator must now adapt the national regulations. The Verbraucherzentralen Bundesverband e.V. (vzbv) calls for a distinction to be made between intentional wrong-way drivers and those who accidentally bought the wrong ticket. Changes are planned,” says Zeller. “What they will look like exactly is not yet foreseeable.”

Until the amendments to the ordinance are final, Zeller is hoping for the 49-euro ticket that will probably come beforehand. If you use it to drive cheaply in local transport in your own city, you don’t need to worry in other regions either. Farewell to the jungle of tariffs. But because by no means all Germans will buy the low-cost ticket, the rest will continue to need the tips on this page.