How many people were caught riding without a ticket in Berlin in 2023?

How many people were caught riding without a ticket in Berlin in 2023?

Figures from Berlin’s S-Bahn and U-Bahn service providers have revealed how many Berliners were unlucky enough to get caught riding the city’s transport network without a ticket in 2023.

469.000 Berliners were caught without a transport ticket in 2023

Ja, Guten Tag, die Fahrscheine bitte!” Only ever barked unexpectedly, it is a phrase capable of striking fear into the hearts of even the most rule-abiding passengers among us.

According to figures from S-Bahn Berlin and the local transport association that runs U-Bahn trains in Berlin, the BVG, 16 million ticket checks were carried out across the city in 2023. For 469.000 passengers, the “Fahrscheine, bitte!” demand came on an unlucky day: one, or perhaps one of many, when they had decided to take the train without a valid ticket.

Published in response to a parliamentary question, the 2023 figures revealed that although passengers are more likely to have their tickets checked on S-Bahn trains, U-Bahn passengers are more likely to get into bigger trouble if they are caught, with the BVG more inclined to file criminal complaints against Schwarzfahrer (fare dodgers).

The BVG filed 2.943 criminal complaints against fare dodgers in 2023, compared to the 441 filed by Deutsche Bahn for people travelling without a ticket on the S-Bahn.

Less prison time for unpaid Schwarzfahren fines

While many public transport networks in German cities run on a trust basis without barriers, authorities have an unforgiving attitude towards people who are caught travelling without a ticket.

Although not everyone who gets caught has to fear prison just for forgetting their ticket, those who are caught multiple times may find themselves in hot water. Only this month are the rules set to change around prison sentences for unpaid fines, which includes cases where people are caught without a ticket.

Until now, the rule has been that the amount of fines equalled the amount of prison time. For example, if someone got caught riding a “day’s worth” of transportation for free, they would be spending a day behind bars. Now, this prison time will be half, so the person in question would get just the morning or afternoon in prison for a day's worth of fines.

Thumb image credit: Christian Mueller /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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