Mobility for all!

End to prison sentences for travelling without a ticket!

End to discriminatory violence during ticket checks!

On our support tours we repeatedly experience that regular guests are not able to reach us for several weeks, due to having to serve a jail sentence for travelling without a ticket. By law, this is considered a criminal offence and can ultimately lead to a prison sentence. Primarily affected are those with limited financial resources, mental illness or addiction problems. We believe that everyone has a right to mobility and view a prison sentence as a consequence for travelling without a ticket as completely disproportionate.

In addition to the problems described above, many of our guests are regularly removed from the spaces managed by BVG and Deutsche Bahn. Often the removal from buses, trains, trams and stations is carried out with violence by security staff. Security personnel rarely engage in deescalation, a problem also highlighted in the #weilwirunsfürchten campaign in relation to racist violence during ticket controls.

With the initiative “Mobility for All”, Berliner Obdachlosenhilfe e.V. draws attention to this problem and advocates for a different practice of fining and criminal charges from the transport companies as well as for new legal regulations. In cooperation with other institutions for people living on the street, we provide monthly tickets for public transport, especially to people in difficult circumstances (e.g. no entitlement to social benefits), and in doing so protect them from a potential prison sentence. The tickets are financed by donations. Furthermore, with our initiative, we aim to raise public awareness of this issue.

Legal practices of public transport companies

The problem

Travelling without a ticket is considered a criminal offence under § 265a of the Criminal Code (Erschleichen von Leistungen). Even travelling once without a ticket can lead to a charge and a prison sentence of up to one year. If and when charges are brought is up to the transport companies. The common practice is that after the third time, or if the so-called “increased transport charge” of 60 euros is not paid, charges are filed. As a rule, this leads to a fine. If the money cannot be paid, the penalty must be compensated by community service or with imprisonment (Ersatzfreiheitstrafe according to §43 StGB). In the case of imprisonment, the offender will have a criminal record.

Such imprisonments primarily affect people who live at or below the poverty line. Thus, the reason for their sentence is often based on their social status. This clearly demonstrates discrimination against the poor, which has no positive effects on the people implicated. Those affected can lose their jobs, homes and vital social contacts as a result of these sentences. Thus, after serving their sentence, they are often in an even more unstable situation than before and even less likely to be able to buy a ticket for public transport, thereby only exacerbating the problem.

This mechanism is particularly evident in the case of the homeless. Often our guests are in urgent need of public transportation to get to social services, medical care facilities or emergency overnight stays, or to simply warm up. The ticket prices, as well as resulting fines, cannot be paid. For those with no fixed abode, this is compounded by the fact that they do not necessarily reside where they are registered and any demands for fines do not reach them. If they are caught travelling without a ticket again, they may then have to go directly to prison. Many are also denied the chance to work off their sentence through community service due to mental illness or addiction problems, as well as bureaucratic obstacles and complicated access to information.

Ultimately, the entire process also costs the state a considerable amount of money. A snapshot survey showed that on the day of the 9th October 2018, a total of 65 people were serving an imprisonment in Berlin for the fraudulent use of services. With average daily imprisonment costs of at least 150 euros per person, taxpayer money amounting to 9750 euros was spent for this day alone. Due to the state of prison overload, the German Association of Judges (Deutscher Richterbund e.V.) also supports transforming the offence into a misdemeanour.

Our demands on the substitute custodial sentence and the reporting practice of public transport companies

  • We demand a repeal of the substitute custodial sentence!
  • We demand the removal without substitution of the paragraph on fraudulent transport use (§ 265a StGB)!
  • We demand that the BVG stop the charges for “fraudulent use of services”!
The hostile practices of Deutsche Bahn und BVG against homeless people

The problem

Due to a lack of social spaces, homeless people depend on public spaces to stay and/or earn money, for example by collecting deposit bottles and selling newspapers. In winter, these are mainly public transport places, S- and U-Bahn stations, entrances and air shafts. These places are reasonably warm and sheltered.

Since the privatisation of BVG, and even before, there has been an increasing displacement of homeless people. BVG does not recognise the social significance of the spaces they manage, but rather sees them as their property, which need to be managed as a commodity. The most direct methods of removing individuals are often enforced through physical violence by security staff. They are instructed to enforce “house rules”. In the case of homeless people, the usage regulations of the BVG §3 abs. 8[1] are invoked. “Mere loitering without the intention of embarkment” is forbidden. The security guards rarely employ deescalation. Should a person complain, the case would be logged by the security guards themselves, which, as a result, rarely happens. As such, on our support tours we often hear about guests who were violently expelled from buses, trains and stations. In the house rules of the railway, the “searching of litter bins” is forbidden, and newspapers may only be sold after prior registration. Violations lead to physical removal, barring from the premises, criminal prosecution and/or claims for damages.

Our demands

  • We demand an independent complaints office on the behaviour of BVG security and control staff!
  • We demand obligatory de-escalation training for security staff and sensitisation on how to deal with the socially disadvantaged!
  • We demand a ban on financial incentives for control staff for catching individuals.
  • We demand the amendment of the house and usage regulations of BVG and Deutsche Bahn, in particular the abolition of the rule prohibiting loitering without the intention of embarkment.
  • We demand that BVG and Deutsche Bahn assume social responsibility!
Mobility for all! An intersectional concern

The problem

When it comes to mobility, different forms of discrimination also occur simultaneously, worsening the problem for people who are affected by different forms of discrimination. Homeless flinta* individuals (women, lesbian, inter, non-binary, trans and a-gender persons), who need special shelters and often have already had traumatizing experiences, often have to travel more often and for greater distance because the number of shelters for flinta* persons is far too small. This increases the risk of being caught travelling without a ticket. In addition, (potentially violent) controls by security can lead to retraumatization. People with physical disabilities are dependent on accessible accommodations as well as accessible U- and S-Bahn stations. We often experience that elevators in the stations, if at all present, are broken, which denies people with physical impairments access to the trains. People are also checked because of their skin color and sometimes treated particularly brutally by security staff. The list goes on and on.

Our demands

  • We demand an end to all discriminatory behavior by BVG security staff!
  • We demand an independent complaints office for violent assaults and discrimination!
  • We demand special shelters for Flinta* persons in the trains and S- and U-Bahn-stations!
  • We demand the guarantee of barrier-free access to all trains as well as S- and U-Bahn-stations!
The Berlin-Ticket-S

If you have a berlinpass, you can buy a discounted social ticket, the so-called “Berlin-Ticket S” at a monthly price of 27.50 euros. The ticket allows you to use all public transport in the AB fare zone.

Unfortunately, the berlinpass and, by extension, the Berlin-Ticket S are tied to certain requirements, which many people in need of assistance do not fulfil, e.g. if they do not have a registered address in Berlin or are not in possession of valid identification.

We demand

As an alternative or supplement to the Berlin Ticket S, we demand the recognition of written statements confirming lack of financial means from social workers as a ticket substitute.

Our long-term vision

Just as there is a human right to housing, there should also be a human right to (reasonable) mobility. This can only be ensured if the entire public transport system is transferred into public ownership. BVG and Deutsche Bahn cannot be for-profit enterprises! That is why we demand free public transport and the deprivitisation of BVG and Deutsche Bahn.


Keine Gefängnisstrafe wegen Fahrens ohne Fahrschein

Auf unseren Hilfstouren erleben wir immer wieder, dass Stammgäste einige Wochen von unseren Ausgaben fernbleiben, weil sie eine Haftstrafe wegen Fahrens ohne Fahrschein absitzen müssen. Vor dem Gesetz gilt dieses Delikt als Straftat und kann schließlich zu einer Gefängnisstrafe führen. Betroffen sind in erster Linie Menschen mit wenig finanziellen Ressourcen, psychischen Erkrankungen oder Suchtproblemen. Wir finden, dass jeder Mensch ein Recht auf Mobilität hat und erachten eine Gefängnisstrafe als Folge für das Fahren ohne Ticket als absolut unverhältnismäßig.

Keine diskriminierende Gewalt bei Ticketkontrollen

Neben der oben beschriebenen Problematik kommt noch hinzu, dass viele unserer Gäste regelmäßig aus den von der BVG und Bahn verwalteten Räumen verdrängt werden. Oft werden die Rausschmisse aus Bussen, Zügen, Trams und Bahnhöfen von Security Personal gewaltsam vollzogen. Das Security Personal handelt selten deeskalativ, eine Problematik, die auch in der Kampagne #weilwirunsfürchten in Bezug auf rassistische Gewalt bei Ticketkontrollen thematisiert wird.

Mobilität für Alle: Ein intersektionales Anliegen

Mit der Initiative „Mobilität für alle“ macht die Berliner Obdachlosenhilfe e.V. auf diese Problematik aufmerksam, setzt sich für eine andere Anzeigenpraxis der Verkehrsunternehmen sowie für eine gesetzliche Neuregelung ein. In Kooperation mit anderen Einrichtungen für obdachlose und wohnungslose Menschen stellen wir vor allem Personen mit besonderem Bedarf (z.B. kein Anspruch auf Sozialleistungen) BVG-Monatskarten zur Verfügung und schützen sie damit vor einer potenziellen Haftstrafe. Die Fahrkarten werden aus Spenden finanziert. Mit unserer Initiative wollen wir außerdem das öffentliche Bewusstsein für dieses Thema schärfen.

Das Berlin-Ticket-S

Wer einen berlinpass besitzt, kann ein vergünstigtes Sozialticket, das sogenannte „Berlin-Ticket S“ zum monatlichen Preis von 27,50 Euro erwerben. Mit dem Ticket dürfen alle öffentlichen Verkehrsmittel im Tarifbereich AB genutzt werden.

Leider ist der berlinpass und somit auch das Berlin-Ticket S an bestimmte Voraussetzungen gebunden, welche viele hilfebedürftige Menschen nicht erfüllen, z.B. wenn sie keine Meldeadresse in Berlin haben oder nicht im Besitz von gültigen Ausweisdokumenten sind.

Wir fordern:

Alternativ oder ergänzend zum Berlin Ticket S fordern wir die Anerkennung von Mittellosigkeitsbescheinigungen von Sozialarbeitenden als Ticketersatz.

Unser langfristiges Ziel

Ebenso wie es ein Menschenrecht auf Wohnen gibt, sollte es auch ein Menschenrecht auf (angemessene) Mobilität geben. Dies kann nur sichergestellt werden, wenn der gesamte ÖPNV in öffentliche Hand überführt wird. BVG und Bahn dürfen keine gewinnorientierten Unternehmen sein! Deshalb fordern wir einen kostenlosen ÖPNV sowie eine Vergesellschaftung von BVG und Bahn. 

Wir verzichten bei unserer Initiative bewusst auf den Begriff „Schwarzfahren“ und berufen uns dabei auf die Argumentation der Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland Bund e.V. .

Our long-term vision

Just as there is a human right to housing, there should also be a human right to (reasonable) mobility. This can only be ensured if the entire public transport system is transferred into public ownership. BVG and Deutsche Bahn cannot be for-profit enterprises! That is why we demand free public transport and the deprivitisation of BVG and Deutsche Bahn.