Berlin fare-dodging cases up 7,000 percent
Almost 34,000 people were dragged before Berlin's courts for fare-dodging in 2014, as the capital's public transport company cracks down hard on travelling without a ticket.
Der Tagesspiegel reported that the number of court cases had increased from just 480 in 2013 to 33,723 in 2014 - an increase of 7,256 percent.
Meanwhile, cases brought against people riding the city S-Bahn – operated by Deutsche Bahn – almost doubled, to 18,174.
Public transport company BVG said that the increase in the number of cases came after it handed the contract to check tickets on its bus, tram and underground services to a different company.
But the S-Bahn could not offer any explanation for why its figure had increased so sharply.
The numbers are especially striking because passengers have to be caught ticketless three or four times in random spot checks before facing legal action.
Not paying the fine – raised to €60 this summer - can ultimately land those charged with fare-dodging in prison.
Opposition parties argue that fare-dodging should become a civil crime to avoid this, but the transport companies say that it has an important deterrent effect.
It's estimated that between three and five percent of passengers travel without a ticket on Berlin public transport.