Munich advertises with the slogan: "cosmopolitan city with a heart”. Yet, anyone using its public transport experiences pure provinciality. When traveling to the transport logistic - air
cargo Europe trade fair, for example, visitors quickly become petty criminals because they unknowingly fail to correctly navigate the fare system: a system that is unparalleled in its
The author of this article is one such petty criminal since last week, as this field report shows.
Last Tuesday (09MAY23), was a very rewarding first day of the fair for me. It was successfully concluded with a Riege Software press conference in the traditional Löwenbräukeller, and a
subsequent relaxed get-together.
At around 21:30, I leave the location, walk to the nearest subway station, and want to buy a ticket to get to my hotel.
But the machine does not accept cash nor any other form of payment. It is out of order, as I am assured by two mechanics carrying out maintenance work on the ceiling in the station's entrance hall.
So, I get on the subway without a valid ticket because there is only this one faulty ticket machine.
Arriving at the main station - the next stop - I see the S-Bahn 8 pull in on the neighboring platform. That is my train, so I hurry and change from the subway to the S-Bahn.
What begins now is pure Absurdistan. Shortly after boarding, two ticket inspectors stand in front of me - a man and a woman - demanding that I show them my ticket.
Me: I don't have a ticket because the machine at the station where I got on was broken.
Her: Where did you get on?
Me: Stiglmaierplatz subway station, across from Löwenbräukeller, where I had an evening event.
Her: Then your ticket, even if you had one, would not be valid. You are sitting here in the S-Bahn and not in a subway.
Me: What's the difference? Munich has a transport association to which the subway, S-Bahn and buses are connected. Its abbreviation, MVV, is on every vehicle.
Her: Nevertheless, you have to buy an S-Bahn ticket when traveling by S-Bahn, like now. Conversely, a subway ticket if you intend to use the subway.
Me: I am a visitor of the Transport Logistic fair, attended by thousands of exhibitors and visitors from all kinds of countries. Please, how are these people supposed to understand this complicated system?
Her: When these people come to us, they have to inform themselves of the rules of our traffic system in advance.
Him: Your ID, please.
Me: I come from a city (Hamburg) where a one-way ticket is valid for all means of transport, whether train, bus or even harbor ferries. I thought that was also the case here. That would be very customer-friendly. After all, you have a transport association in Munich.
Her: No, different rules apply here.
Him: Your ID, please.
Me: Look, for the outward journey from the trade fair to the Stiglmaierplatz station, I also bought a ticket (I reach into my pocket and show it).
Her: (checks critically). This has not been validated. So, you've already evaded the fare there, too.
Me: Why? I bought a ticket, didn't I?
Her: But it wasn't validated. You should have validated it using one of the machines at the station before boarding the train.
Me: As an out-of-town visitor to the city, how would one know to do that? None of the many people who got on together with me, had validated their tickets. Like me, they got on the train and drove off. So, they violated your rules en masse.
Him: Your ID please, otherwise we will notify the railroad police.
Me: Then my ticket is still valid. Okay, I’ll get off the train at the next stop and validate the ticket.
Her: No, it only applies to the subway, not to the S-Bahn.
Him: Now finally show your ID card.
The end of the story: The controllers take down my personal details. The "fare evasion" will supposedly cost me 60 euros. However, I can complain to the responsible railroad office within 14 days, she says, and hands me a fine notification. “Maybe the colleagues there will accept your appeal,” the ticket inspector says somewhat patronizingly as a "farewell".
Me: Could I have both your names, please?
Her: No, the superior department can tell who we are from the combination of numbers on the fine notification. We will not tell you our names.
We have arrived at the Daglfing station, where I have to get off. That is where my ride through Absurdistan, pardon, Munich, ended last Tuesday.
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Heiner Siegmund (Monday, 15 May 2023 09:06)
Ursula, thank you for your interesting note. However, we publish comments only if the author provides his/her full name. Best, H
Hugo Duchemin (Monday, 15 May 2023 09:27)
Indeed a miserable stain on the otherwise so flamboyant Munich event. Unfortunately, "Absurdistan" can still happen in many places, and still remains a heavy obstacle to environmental advancement. Amongst the more intelligent places are Tallinn (420 000 people), Dunkerque (200 000 people urban community) and all of Luxemburg (660 000 people), with respectively 10, 5 and 3 years without charging fares on public transportation. It is time to invest in comfort, safety, security and reliability of public transportation, rather than in non-value-adding activities like (often dysfunctional) ticket administration.
Brian White (Monday, 15 May 2023 11:12)
Thank you for this report. It sheds light on the inefficient and non-transparent traffic policy of the city. If I had been checked, I would also be one of the victims of Munich's public transport system. I used subways and suburban trains daily on the 4 days of the fair, traveling to the venue and back to my hotel. So in case of controls I would have had to pay 480 euros in worst case (8 X 60 euros). I knew nothing about the validation of the tickets. This should apply to most participants of the trade show.
In view of this peculiar transport system, particularly for non German speaking attendees of the event, the organizers of the trade show should allow all exhibitors and visitors free rides on Munich's trains and busses for the duration of ther fair. That would be a customer (and visitor) friendly policy.