Avoiding Prague Public Transport Fines
Several times a year I help travellers on public transport, usually at a metro station, who have been caught up in an inspection and really don’t have a clue what’s expected of them. The ticket inspector’s English may not be that great and this will result in a stressful situation. Here’s what you need to know.
Within the bounds of public transport property you can be challenged by a ticket inspector sometimes in uniform but often not. He/she will identify themselves using a ring very often with the numbered plate concealed inside their palm. They should also carry photographic ID with the same number. The picture above is roughly what you’ll see.
What is a Valid Ticket?
There are two types of tickets/passes. Tickets bought from the large yellow machines, tabaks (news stands) and hotels etc require you to validate by stamping in the little yellow box the first time you use the transport system. The other sort of ticket is pre-validated i.e. the moment you get the ticket you are good to go. This includes discounted travel passes bought from a DPP office, tickets issued by the little orange boxes on trams and in metro stations and/or anything bought electronically. So these include:
- Printed ticket – to be validated when travelling, for a person.
- Printed ticket – to be validated when travelling, for a dog that cannot be put in a carry bag.
- Printed ticket – to be validated when travelling, for a large item of luggage i.e. suitcase or big rucksack.
- Printed ticket – pre-validated at time of purchase (the black and white ticket).
- Printed 24 Hour Pass (to be validated).
- Printed 24 Hour Pass (pre-validated black and white ticket).
- Printed 72 Hour Pass (to be validated).
- Electronic tickets/passes pre-validated at the time of purchase.
- One month printed pass from a DPP office.
- PID card/pass (aged 60-69) is required to support a discounted ticket.
- Passport (Non-EU Citizen) or National ID card is required to support 70+ free travel.
- Student ISIC Card (mostly used when buying an electronic pass).
- Litacka Card with activated duration ticket/voucher.
If you have valid transport you simply show the inspector your ticket/pass/document. He will have an electronic card reader if required. The check will take a few seconds.
If you don’t have validity you’ll be asked to step off so the inspector can sort things out. This may mean getting off the metro at the next station or leaving a bus/tram onto the street. You are what we call “travelling black” and people will spit at you as they pass. Actually it’s not quite that bad but the bad news is you will now be fined, the question is how much and how long this will take. The current fine for a person travelling without validity is CZK1500. This can be reduced to CZK1000 if you pay on the spot. You can pay in cash or using a contactless card. If you cannot pay the fine on the spot then you’ll be escorted to an ATM if available. If that’s not an option they will call the police if they are not already with them. Not Joking!! you’ll be arrested and it’s going to ruin your day.
A person willing to buy an annual ticket can reduce the fine further but that won’t be an option for tourists. A person can be fined CZK400 for each piece of large luggage and/or dogs being carried and again this fine is halved if you pay on the spot.
Prevention of Embarrassment
Here are a few tips on how to avoid being fined:
1) Evaluate your journey duration. The 30 Minute Decision post describes a basic “what ticket do I need?” scenario. If your journey can be completed within 30 minutes then you can buy the cheaper 30 minute ticket. Not sure? then buy the more expensive extended time ticket because it gives you twice the time. Look at the Prague Apps page for “pubtrans” or “DPP” which will calculate how long a journey will take.
2) Evaluate your journey frequency. If you plan on taking at least 5 single short trips per day then a pass works out better value than single tickets. A pass also means you don’t have to find machines and mess about with coins etc.
3) Evaluate your journey with any extras. If you are travelling with luggage then you will need either a pass where luggage is included or accept that you will need to buy additional tickets to cover the extras (one ticket per large item). Look at the video on the How to Use a Touch Screen Ticket Machine to get what you need.
4) A child is somebody who has not yet had their 15th birthday so if you use child tariff tickets then a ticket inspector may ask for proof of age and that would have to be a passport/ID. If in doubt buy adult tariff tickets.
5) If you are required to stamp your ticket, make sure the stamp is visible. If not, try another machine.
6) Understand restrictions. For example, the free travel option for over 70s below DOES NOT include luggage.
7) To claim discounted travel you will need supporting documentation like the PID card for somebody aged 60-69 or an ISIC card for a student.
8) To claim free travel you must have supporting documentation. This requires any non-EU citizen to show a passport, any EU citizen to show a National ID card or anybody that shows a Czech Residence Permit. A driving licence is NOT valid ID. (for points 6, 7 and 8 check the Exploring Prague Over 60 post)
9) Check if your credit/debit card is contactless. This will give you more options for buying tickets.
10) If you are happy to purchase tickets electronically then check the Litacka page and create a PID-Litacka account.
11) If using a ticket machine make sure that you are on the Adult tariff, not Discounted/Child. NOTE: the touch-screen machines will assume you are an adult unless you choose otherwise.
12) A luggage ticket still has to be validated.
13) If you have just been fined then leave the station and buy the correct ticket before continuing.