For anyone who doesn’t already know it, I travel a great deal by bus. Every college day I make my way to the local bus station, climb into a bus which takes me to Bremen, change over to a tram which takes me almost to the college door and, every evening, I do the same in reverse. It is fair to say, I believe, that I know a little about bus travel in this part of Germany although, it must also be admitted, not as much as some!
It is also fair to say that there are some things about life in Germany which irritate me. One of these things is covered very succinctly by the Jobsworth title given by many British people to those who insist on doing their job exactly according to the book, even when there is clearly either a major problem with what they are doing, or it is just plain wrong. The thing which irritated me this week took place as I was traveling to the Domweih (an annual festival) in Verden with a Weser-Ems-Bus – a company owned by Deutsche Bahn and operating in the VBN region of Germany (Bremen – Lower Saxony). A little bit of thought and less rigid sticking to a bad rule would have saved several children a good deal of their pocket-money.
Photo Source: Michael – Creative Commons
At the start of the year the VBN – which is an umbrella organization for the Bremen – Lower Saxony area and covers almost all bus companies and the prices on the railways within its borders – issued a series of new tickets designed, theoretically, to make life easier and cheaper for the customer, without taking anything away from the profits of the individual bus companies. One of these tickets allows people with a monthly, school or subscription ticket to travel outside of their normal area – that covered in the ticket price – for a set fee. The customer shows their normal ticket and pays 3.40 for the remaining journey, no matter how much a normal ticket costs.
The problem with this ticket, which is good for adults traveling quite a distance, is that it applies to children with their normal school ticket too. There is no reduced child price, the 3.40 applies to all.
Three children – under fourteen – traveled with a Weser-Ems-Bus to the Domweih. They showed their normal school tickets, whereby, last year, they would have had to pay one Euro extra for the extra zone (they got in in Dörverden – one zone – and traveled to Verden – the second zone – with tickets only for Dörverden). The Jobsworth bus driver charged all three 3.40 each for the additional zone.
Had they not shown their school tickets, or had the bus driver been slightly more thoughtful, the full price for a child would have been 1.70 each.
- Viktoria Michaelis.