You see it on your metro ticket, you see it on the screen when you buy it, and occasionally you will see it on the train, but what does it mean?
We trust You
Well this may sound strange to some people, it definitely did to me when I first heard it, but Berlin’s metro system is on the HONOR SYSTEM!!! Can you believe it?? Such a populous and modern city such as Berlin cannot possibly have smoothly running public transportation by trusting in its citizens and visitors… Can it? Apparently it can, and does. Here is how it works. Instead of buying your ticket, inserting it in the machine and entering through the gates one at a time, Berlin has a more efficient system. Just buy your ticket, validate it at any of the strategically placed machines and that’s it! No waiting for the guy in front of you to feed his ticket through the slot 12 times because it got too crumpled in his pocket… or huge lines during rush hour, just get on the metro!
Don’t bet against the house
So, why does anyone do it?? Why not just get on the train and not even mess with getting a ticket?? Well, I suppose it’s not 100% honor system. They have a few people whose entire job is going from train to train in normal clothes asking you to show them your ticket, and if you do not have one, or even if you have one and it is not VALIDATED it is a 40 Euro fine… Uh oh, that just became an expensive train ride… So if you are a gambling man, technically you can risk it and not pay. But remember: in the end, the house ALWAYS wins!
See also the Berlin Survival Guide part one – Make money out of empty bottles and part three More Bang for your Buck
Yeah, I learned this when I went from the airport. I bought the ticket but did not validate it. I thought that was done automatically. Then this girl came and ask for the ticket. In my not so good German I explained that I bought the ticket on the airport. I got off with a warning. And I validated the ticket as soon I got off at my stop. It is a very good system.
That was Luck! Usually the try to charge you a lot of money. Best thing to do is just playing the tourist with absolute no idea of German or English language 🙂