Depending on where you come from, you may find the payment system for public transport here a little confusing at first. You can either buy your tickets for individual trips at the many ticket-dispensing machines or buy passes valid for periods of one day, one week, one month or even an entire year. The longer the period, the better the deal. Passes can be purchased at any RMV counter (whose opening hours vary according to the station), at selected ticket machines and at many news kiosks.
Most RMV passes are transferable, which allows you to lend them to friends or family members when you do not need them. In addition to being a better buy, the weekly, monthly and yearly passes have another advantage: after 7 pm weekdays and all day on weekends, one adult and all children under 145can travel free with a pass-holder.
Most German municipalities use a modified honor system for travel on public transport. That means you buy your ticket or pass before you climb aboard, and you usually do not even have to show it when you enter. The exception is with buses, where after 8 pm you have to board at the front of the bus and show your ticket or pass to the driver as you enter. Do not think, however, that the honor system is an open invitation to ride for free. It is, as we say, a modified honor system, and those who prove themselves not honorable can expect to pay a penalty. Teams of ticket inspectors, most often in plain clothes, travel around the system, prepared to catch miscreants traveling without a valid ticket or pass. Because inspectors wait until the train or bus has started rolling, there is no way you can alight and escape being caught.
If you are caught "traveling black" (schwarz-fahren), you will be asked to pay a fine of 60 euros on the spot. If you cannot pay right then and there, you will be handed a ticket with your fine listed on it and where you can go to pay that fine. If you do not pay within the period listed, you will get a notice at your address (that is why ticket inspectors insist on seeing your passport or some form of personal identity) with an increased fine. Each time you ignore paying the ticket, your fine will increase until, finally, you will be hauled into court. Better just to buy the ticket in the first place. If you feel you have a valid excuse for not paying your fine (just about the only one is that the ticket machine at your station was not working), you can bring it up with the official at the payment office. Do not try arguing with the inspectors; they are trained to disregard all pleas and sob stories and to leave the matter of appeals to the people at the payment office. The payment office has a chart listing all the ticket machines that were out of operation - and on what days - so make a note of the machine number or station. If the date and time on your fine do not match their records, you pay the fine; if it does, they waive the fine and apologize for the inconvenience you have suffered. Sorry, no money back for your trip to the office.
RMV Ticket Machines
The first time you buy a ticket, it might seem complicated, but you'll soon get the hang of it. The machines are multilingual and can be operated in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Turkish. Most ticket machines are now touch screen and are relatively easy to use. Just follow these steps:
1. Select your destination. The most common destinations are listed first, i.e. Airport, Day Ticket Frankfurt, etc...
2. You can also enter your destination in the text field or by destination code. If you are traveling to Frankfurt, for example, the code is 50.
3. Select the ticket you wish to purchase based on passenger age (adult or child). Other options include a day ticket or group ticket .
4. Pay the amount displayed. Bank notes of 5, 10, 20 and 50 euros are accepted. Most machines now also accept EC debit/credit cards.