Screw the BVG!



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Proportionality and reasonability

To criminalize a person because not paying the metro is against essential principles of criminal law in democratic societies: ultima ratio, reasonability and proportionality.

BVG makes people go to prison. To maintain somebody in prison has high costs. This costs are payed with taxes. So a ridiculous amount of money for a company which earns billions turns into an expensive cost for the society.

Dora 184 days ago

Disastrous management

This can happen when incompetent, irresponsible, obsolete, and egocentric [im]mature men like Thilo Sarrazin take positions that responsible persons should develop under democratic control.

Dora 184 days ago

Best solution

.. is getting a bike ..

Thomsen 338 days ago

Porto's system

I'm a foreign student currently in Berlin, but since my University is still in Porto, Portugal, I can get no damn discount from the 79.50€ normal monthly ticket.

Back home, I paid 27€ as a student, but the normal fare is 36€ and you get around a good portion of the city, it's more than reasonable. Sure, you don't get to everywhere in the city like here in Berlin, but you go around downtown just fine as well as all Faculties and most sites of interest.

And as for 24h rides? Yeah, we have that on Fridays and Saturdays.

I do think the system's really good, very well connected and on time. But fuck, I should NOT have to pay 80€ when my colleagues pay 55 just due to paperwork, that's absurd!!!

Marta more than 1 year ago

Foreigner Fined

I am a foreigner and recently spent some time in Berlin. Riding the S Bahn was always very stressful for me because of how large of a system it was but also, and primarily, the ticketing process. There are so many options on the ticket system that it was almost impossible to choose the right one (even after putting the system in my native language). I decided I would be safe with by an "extended ticket". I quickly found out I was wrong - the checker came and I gave him the ticket which I paid 1.70 euros for. He asked if I had another ticket which of course I didn't, so he then took my off the train and took my passport. He never showed me any ID but, of course, I'm a foreigner so I didn't ask too many questions. He wrote me a ticket for 60 euros and told me I could pay it then or within 2 weeks. I was so upset I said I'd pay it later - honestly I won't be back to Berlin for a while and after reading all of this, I think I will not pay it. I asked him to show me the correct ticket that I should have bought and he refused saying "it is just normal ticket". I had to find some Americans to show me which was the right ticket to buy. Apparently the ticket was supposed to cost 2.60 euro. I wasn't trying to cheat the system or anything and I ended up buying that ticket anyway so I spent 4.30 euro and still got a ticket. I have been to many other major cities and every single one had a better public transport system. The guy was really rude and it really made me hate traveling around the city of Berlin. I know Germans aren't known to be bubbly and very friendly but still, he could have understood the situation better shown a little empathy. Will no be traveling to Berlin again anytime soon!

Anson more than 1 year ago


Hi the same situation happened to me. did you end up paying the fine? Im getting very threatening letters from i believe some lawyers saying that i must pay soon. I think it is really unfair for them to add on these additional fees especially when actually paying the fine is such a difficult process

fined foreigner 175 days ago


and finally u paid the fine :?

Hajnalka 143 days ago


F´Chain girl - god forbid you won't have your monthly ticket with you for one or another reason - you will pay extra 40 eur fine. Kiss this stupid company in one place...

BVG is really behind the leading cities, considering it's pretending to boast on international arena and be named along with New York, London etc.

BVG is simply not good enough and lowers BERLIN's image and status in the world.

Make it a bit more expensive - but professional with all options that DEFEND PEOPLE'S rights.

Jan van Bouwmeester more than 1 year ago


I take the S-Bahn every day at different times and I meet ticket checkers sometimes even three times a week. Never ever saw them behaving like gorillas. I´m wondering if the author tried to be "smart" with them. Maybe he didn´t want to accept the fine, maybe he didn´t want to step out of the bahn? The BVG is not expensive, maybe compared to 1 kg lidl salami??? Some things could better of course, but it is reliable and takes you anywhere in the city, what else? And for those complaining about the poor destitute people not being able to pay for their ticket, it´s funny how they feel sorry for them while writing a post but in real life they wouldn´t even look at them.

F´Chain girl more than 1 year ago


Hi everyone!
Yes BVG sucks really bad and I can write 10 pages about how many things are really pain in the a... about their rules, their service etc!
All decent cities have a 24-h ticket that starts when validated till the next day same time... and BVG has only the "till 3 AM" - wtf ?? Crazy! So the tourists that want to explore the city 2 days only have to buy a lot of different tickets instead of just 2 24 hour tickets! Robbery - really badly thought system.

Secondly the monthly tickets - cannot be registered on your NAME - so if you lose it - tough luck!
So terrible. BVG is super unprofessional in this sense! And if you left your monthly ticket at home and the inspectors "catch" you - you have no chance to escape the 40 euro fine! They tell you to come to their office and show them your monthly ticket - and then when you come they tell you - no its only for students/pupils who have monthly passes with an ID attached to them.
How crazy!
Germany is a country of technology, inventions, where transport, railway, roads were perfected and modernized and here we are with a shameful public transportation system in Berlin!
I could say many other things that are really strange. Sure no city has a perfect system..but sorry for the biggest economy in Europe - Germany really has to improve the Berlin transport.
Thanks god there are at least no traffic jams as bad as in other bigger cities.

Fuck BVG and let's put them DOWN!

They are worse than even the PRAGUE transport system which has much less funding/money/traffic/demand - and has electronic cads where you can top them on your name as monthly passes.

BVG ist eine fuerchterliche firma. Berlin verdient was viel besseres fuer ein Verkehrsbetrieb.

Ian more than 1 year ago


I just rode the BVG from inner Berlin to Potsdam for a little over €3. It took 45 minutes, was super clean and comfortable, had a very short wait time between transfers and was easy to figure out. Clearly the author and some commenters here have never been dependent on American public transportation. I only read this because someone posted it online. I stopped reading Exberliner a long time ago because I feel embarrassed at how awful it is. So sad that such a great concept is so consistently horribly executed.

Suzanne Kovacs more than 2 years ago


The author of this article might well ask what would happen if the BVG introduced turnstiles, just as they have in every urban transit system I've experienced outside of Germany. The concept of Schwarzfahren is anathema on the tube in Londonor the Metro in Paris, but if the BVG is so worried about lost revenue it might consider scrapping the random controls and ensuring that everyone who travels needs a ticket (or something like an Oyster card) to enter the platform.

I suspect the writer and those like like him who think everything they can't be arsed to pay for should simply be free (translation: paid for by other people) would be apoplectic if the BVG introduced such a system. As it is, riding the BVG is about as close to free transport you're going to get outside of your anti-capitalist utopia - if you don't want to pay for your journey, simply take your chances and don't buy a ticket. I don't know what the odds of getting kontrolliert are - probably under 10%.

Froon more than 2 years ago

I actually think

turnstiles would be fairer than the system we have now, coz THEN if you couldn't afford to go on the U-Bahn you'd be forced to walk. We're being tempted to use something we can't afford, well not me, but Penners and such like. Saw a Schwarzfahrer without shoes on being restrained the other week, he had no fucking shoes on, he was wailing with despair and the kontrolleure were waiting for the cops to arrive, it was really sad, yeah. And most of the people who go black have either just forgotten or are pretty desperate.

I once asked a guy who was studying Verkehrsplanung or something why they didn't introduce barriers - he said it was because of disabled access, although the system isn't perfect (it really isn't my mum is in a wheelchair, when she came over I was really shocked by how un-disabled-friendly it was) it is still quite good and so barriers aren't an option. He even said it would be illegal for a transport system to go backwards in Barrierefreiheit - it's illegal for a system to get WORSE - so the Tube is allowed to be a bit crap but the U-Bahn's not allowed to get crapper. If you get me.

I really think making it free is the best solution, simple, most practical, most efficient solution. locking up toothless Penners for riding without a ticket is obviously not a solution, how are the BVG getting any money back out of that? And at the very least it should be free for all kids under 12, so stupid the whole thing with the Schülerausweis we got SCHULPFLICHT you dur-brains all the kids are in school we don't need a fucking Ausweis. They should make it free for kids and Hartz-IV and maybe maybe maybe stop asking very destitute people to show their tickets to the kontrolleure? Something like that. I think it's what most Berliners want tbh

Jacinta Nandi more than 2 years ago

Good topic

...but it would be nice to quote some clear sources at the end of the article, otherwise it ends up being the usual XBerliner mix: a couple of "anonymous" sources (usually undercover journalists turned prostitutes for an evening), some random numbers, a lot of (cheap, childish, hipster) hatred against "the system" and a quick etimological history of the word Schwarzfahren.

A bit too much for a single article. Anyway the topic is indeed interesting and deserves further analysis.

Mr Come On Grow Up more than 2 years ago

suck it up

fact is, this is the most comprehensive metro transit system in the world. there's always something to complain about, but you can't compare it with any of the other cities you mention in this article.

Mark more than 2 years ago

Ride your bikes!

This article makes some good points and has some good information, but I don't even know what I can believe, because the actions it proposes are, frankly, childish. Cheating the BVG out of money with this kind of "passive-aggressiveness" will give the company another justification for raising the prices, causing the people who actually pay them to be exploited even more. Your suggestion to organise is good, though. I might suggest organising a Schwarzfahren protest day. That would be respectable. The best for yourself and everyone is going by bike, assuming you're able to.

Shaunessy Ashdown more than 2 years ago

what an ignoramus

are you serious? have you been to any other country and used their public transportation? get a bike and stop whining.

dee more than 2 years ago

who hired this writer?

I agree that BVG, as many other things in Berlin, could be improved, but the complaints in this article are beyond ridiculous.

“Why can’t you get a replacement when you lose a monthly ticket?” groans one staffer, who had to re-pay for a full month after the wallet containing her ticket was stolen on the 2nd." --- Because you can't cancel a lost ticket the way you cancel a lost credit card. If you could do that, you could effectively get free monthly tickets just by claiming that the original one got "lost" or "stolen".

"Another had a ticket valid from 10am and had to pay €40 after hearing the ominous “Die Fahrscheine, bitte!” at 9:55". --- So you're asking inspectors to be nice and let you travel without a valid ticket just because it's "close enough". By the same logic, businesses could start paying their employees 20 or 30 euros a month less than stipulated in their contracts, because, hey, it's "close enough".

"And why not go even further and ask for free public transport for everyone?" --- There is no such thing as "free public transport for everyone". Someone has to pay for the costs of operating and maintaining the BVG infrastructure. If that money doesn't come from ticket sales, it's gonna have to come from an increased income tax. Would you prefer that?

"It’s not so crazy to think about a transport system in which everything is paid for by taxes on luxury condos, Russian oligarchs and other things the city could do without" --- Wait, what? You want to get funds for BVG by taxing resident foreign millionaires and their high-end properties, and at the same time you look forward to a Berlin without resident foreign millionaires and high-end properties? How is that sustainable?

Maybe the ExBerliner should start looking for writers that can produce cogent arguments.

Dr. V. more than 2 years ago

So true

"Maybe the ExBerliner should start looking for writers that can produce cogent arguments." <-- so true! I'm ready to cancel my subscription, the articles are so poorly researched and written these days. This isn't the first article I've found myself scratching my head over.

Another expat in Berlin more than 2 years ago

Income tax could pay for public services?

What? We might use the equitable system that's set up already to fairly share the cost for public services among all citizens? That is indeed a crazy idea.

discontinuity more than 2 years ago


You need to visit some other cities, mate!
For my monthly AB ticket at less than €2 per day I get a clean, reliable, frequent, closely-networked transport system that stands proudly amongst the best in the world.
Same with the Deutsche Bahn.
In May I get to sleep my way to Hungary on a 4-er cabin plus return the same way for €98!

Mo in Berlin more than 2 years ago

that isnt a story

we know the prices, if you dont like it, walk or take the bike, same difference on time...
Or go to one of the many other places in the world, where it is cheap, has a 24-hour service on the weekend, ....

Penis more than 2 years ago

If you can't afford the train, walk.

If you can't afford a flat, sleep on the street. If you can't afford food, eat your own heart. Berlin: Love it or leave it.

Prince Saud more than 2 years ago

Try Public Transport in the USA

.....If you can find it...there is so little of it, in Florida, you really do ride with homeless mentally ill people who have no where to go all day...I lived in Berlin for 20 years...yes, it's a pain when it's not going well, and I hate the smelly S-Bahn in Summer...Germans must learn that opening windows will not give you germs.....Love the 10 UHR Karte... it works great.. just don't use it before 10 moron.

Al Janssens more than 2 years ago

Al Janssens and the mentally ill.

Al Janssens would make an excellent Nazi. No mentally ill people on my tram -- it's the best!

Schizoexpat more than 2 years ago

First world problem...

how is it terrible to have a 24h network that works well 90% of the time, for a reasonable price? Riding on public transport beats traffic any time, and you can rely on the BVG to take you to every corner of the city -in clean, comfortable trams/buses/ubahn, where you can sit quite frequently (ask Londoners how they ride over there!) Plus, compared to other big cities, with no reliable public transport at all, Berlin is almost paradise -check Mexico city, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Mumbai...

The trick is to get a monthly ticket if you live here, around 58 eur a month for AB, less than 2 eur a day. Plus you can take an adult and up to 3 kids, and a dog, with you after 8pm or on the weekends. If you ride a bike, in the summer, you can sell your tickets during those months. Yes...everything can be better, but it is pretty good as it is. I guess people who are used to having everything have to find something to complain just out of boredom.

Nothing_like_Alex more than 2 years ago

flipsides to every 2 bit story

sheep always happy to tow the status quo. Even if you have a monthly ticket, if it is not "übertragbar", if you forget your wallet at home (happens, we are HUMANS not robots), have your wallet stolen without realising (happens!!! Especially in Berlin near Warschauer etc), you still have to pay 40 euro if you get 'caught' without a ticket and treated like a 5 year old criminal by the patronising, sometimes barely human ticket inspectors - who I've seen act like a mixture of rabid dog and wild gorilla on many occasions. This happens to few enough people that the animal farm majority just don't care, well nice going guys. Would be great to know how much ticket inspectors, the ticket machines, validation machines, cost to install, run, manufacture, repair after vandalism, costs of ink and paper for the tickets and fines, cost of fine printing machines, debt collection costs, imprisonment costs etc cost not just in monetary terms but social terms. I think the system of you pay, don't pay get fined is good if you are a simple (minded) disciplinarian, or the issue of a socially responsible public(ally funded) transport system is just "too hard" for some to want to think or fathom. Sour grapes? Eh, just sayins y'all. I'm from Sydney where it costs a fortune and the service is far worse than Berlin so I can also relate to most of the comments here, so thanks for the article and comments, always good to spark discussion about this kinda thing.

Don Quixote more than 2 years ago

RE: Flipside

You do realize that if you forget your Ticket at home and then get checked, you can tell this to the Kontroleur who will then Issue you a "special ticket". You need to take this Ticket along with your Monthly Card to the BVG Zentrale within a week and all you pay is a €7 processing fee. While in Theory this applies only to the "Nicht Übertragbaren" Tickets, you can get away with it if you are nice enough and go there to explain it to them. Works even better if you payed by card and kept the receipt to prove that you didnt just buy it that day.

Learn the rules of the system before you complain about it.

Flipside more than 2 years ago

High prices only if you buy single tickets

It's quite affordable if you think about it. ABC is expensive, but a lot of people don't need anything beyond AB. 78 euros per month is not expensive if you use it everyday; you get it for free or discounted if you're a student or under a certain age. If you're like me and don't need to commute before 10AM, the ticket is 57 euros for the month. The days when I need to go somewhere earlier than that I buy the 4 pack tickets.... 8,80 for four tickets. If you're buying a single every time at 2,60 that's your own fault for not realizing you can buy the 4 pack of tickets and get a discount, or a daily ticket if you have to do a lot of hopping around. It lets you go nearly everywhere at a flat fee! I lived in a bunch of other cities and multiple trips start costing more when you go multiple places in one day.

And all this doesn't even begin to speak to the fact that you can get anywhere in this city at almost anytime of the day fairly quickly. Sure, it isn't perfect and there are delays and breakdowns, but for crying out loud there's a 24 hour network in place that actually works!

Stop complaining more than 2 years ago

Get real- don't expect everything to be cheap/free in Berlin

Interesting how the opening line of the article mentions "bad service", but the article really just goes on to rant about so-called exorbitant prices... Examples of bad service aren't given anywhere. Obviously, the author thinks he has a right to ride public transport for free (or nearly) and is frustrated about getting caught... Well, you know, Berlin has a pretty efficient transport system (you mention cheaper prices in Paris, but I lived there for 6 years and I can assure you I much prefer the Berlin system!), so you just can't expect it to be free. Mentioning the CEO's salary is neither here nor there. Also, the price for a single ticket may not be that low, but a "Tageskarte" and "Monatskarte" are quite cheap in comparison - and definitely cheap in comparison to other big (European) cities. In your great example, Paris, for instance, the "Tageskarte" doesn't even exist, so as a tourist you either spend a fortune on single tickets to get around (because one ticket is valid for one ride, not for 2 hours!) or spend a fortune on a rip-off tourist day card. Don't knock the BVG too quickly -- accept that a service has to be paid for, and you might actually enjoy it...

Peter more than 2 years ago

Can We Do Better Here?

Lets talk about how filthy these trains and train stations are! Are they never cleaned?! Has anyone heard of a bucket of soap and water or the concept of scrubbing? The windows at Hackescher Markt kill me. Not to mention all of the smokers on the platforms! Disgusting!!! I am so embarrassed by the lack of concern for the upkeep of this system. Berlin will never be a world class city until they do something about these trains.

Grossed Out Everyday more than 2 years ago


OMG EW why don't you leave Berlin then if its so dirty for you. Go to Monaco.

Klaus Wowereit more than 2 years ago


yeah, get a life somewhere else!

Klausi Wowereit more than 2 years ago

Berlin= one big trashbox

I moved to Berlin recently less a year and was shocked with smokers ! Those fuckers are smoking everywhere, on platforms in trains, I am breathing this fucking smoke all the time. Regarding BVG and Deutsche Bahn, it seems that they care about their income and people for them are equal to shit ! especially those stupid controllers who have no brains

David more than 2 years ago

Grossed out by your comment

Please leave

moshi moshi more than 2 years ago

high prices, sure, but the rest?

I don't hate it, and I don't see poor service either. It's very reliable most of the time. The prices are a bit high, but that would be my only complaint. Have you see the mass transit in other cities? Try using Muni in San Francisco and then you will see a major city's mass transit system worth complaining about.

Johnny Huh? more than 2 years ago

Exorbitant fares? You're kidding, right?

Exorbitant fares? You're kidding, right?
Now I know BVG isn't perfect guys, but go to London or Madrid for a few weeks and then tell me it's expensive AND a bad service :
London: Cheapest monthly ticket for just 2 zones out of 9: €110,00 (Berlin, for 2 out of 3 zones: €78) For all zones prices can go as high as €380!
Madrid: Cheapest monthly ticket for just 1 zone out of 5: €50 - all Zones €130.
Stockholm costs €89 per month is a quarter of the size of Berlin
And as for service, please, to repeat myself: go to London, come back, and see how you feel then :) Oh, but don't forget to buy a ticket:
BUS: "A typical fine for this offence is in the region of £165 together with £95 costs"
TUBE: "Passengers travelling without a ticket valid for their entire journey are sometimes required to pay a £80 penalty fare or face prosecution for fare evasion."

Jim Harrison more than 2 years ago


2.60€ ticket is valid for 120 min in every ubahn/sbahn/tram/bus so it is not true that you have to buy roundtrip for 5.20€.

I agree that the BVG prices are very hight but the author should maybe proofread his google translate terms&conditions of bvg tickets...

Hinoki more than 2 years ago

No mistake

Yes, but a single ticket is only valid for ONE direction so if you want to go somewhere and back home (even within less than 120 minutes) you have to buy 2 single tickets.

x more than 2 years ago

true, valid only in one direction. and if you try to go back using a different route they fine you anyway.
Also a lot of people believe the daily ticket is valid for 24 hours, not true, it is valid only until 3am of the following day. If you want to carry a bike, you need to buy an extra ticket for that.

fabio more than 2 years ago

maybe true in theory, but not in practice

hola hola guys, i am riding mostly on 2,60€ tickets and i did round trips several times, not into one direction, i was controlled on the way back so many times and no controlled bat an eye, so your argument is invalid in practice.

Anyway, I like BVG and I think that the author of this article is just complaining for nothing.

hinoki more than 2 years ago

Help Hinoki

before the controllers nab him.

2.59€ more than 2 years ago

Berlin ticket controllers DO suck, no matter what you think of the system itself

I think a lot of the above article is explained by the fact that the writer was threatened with being thrown on the tracks by a ticket check at one point. . This is REALLY typical of the BVG ticket checkers. They are actually pretty bigoted and I've never had a pleasant time with them, no matter how hard I was trying to be nice at the time. So, the BVG is pretty evil in the sense that it employs bastards who threaten you with GBH when you don't pay up on the spot. It's a fact. No one's going to waste their love on someone like that.

Ticket checkers aside, though, I like the public transport in this city and encourage everyone to respect its honour system.

Juniper more than 2 years ago

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