There's been signs going up on trains and buses over the past month or two in the region (Hessen), over the new fare dodger fee which starts this Saturday. Every bus has a little blue colored sticker with the fee cost change.
The old fee? Forty Euro if you got caught on board a train or bus without a ticket..
The new fee? Sixty Euro.
What they will admit is that numerous countries and regions have a more hefty fee if you try to travel without any tickets. Brussels has a 200-Euro fee.....Rome has a 114-Euro fee.....Austria has a 100-Euro fee.....and even Helsinki has a 80-Euro fee.
The old fee of forty Euro has been around since 2003....almost twelve years. Some of the German transport folks think that people aren't worried about losing forty Euro if they get caught.....so it made sense to raise it to sixty.
How often do violators get caught? I'd say out of every ten bus trips I take.....an audit crew comes onboard and out of each two audit episodes.....at least one or two folks will be caught.
The most stupid episode I've seen in recent months was a twelve-year old kid who was dressed well and I kinda assume that Mom gave her the monthly amount to buy the 'card'. The kid probably looked at the thirty-odd Euro and just decided to pocket the money instead and hope that she didn't get caught. Maybe she'd done this for several months and just felt lucky. But the audit guy demanded the ID and there will be a letter coming to the house and asking for the fee (forty Euro). Mom will ask why the kid didn't have the ticket and the explanation will come out. Then Mom will ask what the kid spent the money on and it'll get into a bigger mess.
Last month, I witnessed two women (German gal's in the 30's) who were apparently here for some business episode and got on the bus to get from point A to point B without a ticket. I even sat and watched them get onboard on stop-X and it was the very next stop where the audit team got on and pressed for their tickets. The audit guys caught them and you could tell they were both a bit embarrassed. In a way, I felt sorry for them but the system requires you to be honest and buy a ticket.
On trains, it's usually foreigners that I've noticed without the tickets and getting caught. Over the last three years....I've probably seen six to eight train episodes and all were non-Germans. My belief is that they'd rather not pay it and just think they will save the money. You could ride the trains on a hundred occasions and only meet up with a audit guy once. It's especially true if you only ride in the rush-hours.....which the audit guys tend to avoid. It's the same way for the local bus runs.....you will almost never see an audit guy at 7AM.
The odd thing here in Wiesbaden that I've come to notice via the local news is that they've had several violent encounters with audit checks. One episode involved a couple of American punk kids from the Army post. A couple of violent encounters involved foreigners. The audit guys got pushed around, and the reaction has been to have more of the city-cops walking the bus with the audit guys. Any hint of trouble and the city-cop will lay you down on the ground real quick. It won't be a pleasant experience when you suggest you might use force to get past the audit guy or his associate (the cop).
As for the sixty Euro changing attitudes? No. If you really wanted to make an impression....I'd go the Zurich way.....160 Euro. And I'd even add a rule.....the second time around within five years....double the 160 Euro to 320 Euro. You'd get their attention real quick.