Kraków’s Tram Network – You’re more likely to get robbed by plain clothes ticket inspectors than pickpockets!
We have just returned from a 5 day visit to Kraków where our experience was more than delightful but for one miserable and utterly horrendous experience we had on our single journey on the tram number 3 from Kazimierz to the vicinity of Kraków Old Town on Tuesday 9th January 2018 at approximately 9pm.
This was our first time in Poland. We purchased tickets BEFORE we boarded the tram unknowing to ‘validate the tickets’. As soon as we boarded tram number 3, we were almost immediately seized upon by two ‘ticket inspectors’ who demanded we pay a fine of nearly 300 Polish Zlotys simply because we didn't validate the tickets. Clear, visible public information and deterrents should be accessible to all and everywhere so that no one is deceived or misled. It is not sufficient to say that the need for validation is printed on the actual tickets – and in 4 different languages. The tickets are small, fiddly and not easy to read if one needs glasses.
We refused to pay the unwarranted fine and were subsequently marched off the tram like criminals several stops later where I continued to protest. After several phone calls by an aggressive ticket inspector, the police arrived on a blue light in a riot van shortly followed by two more ticket inspectors. We were told the fine was mandatory. We reluctantly paid the fine after 45 mins of protesting. It took the resources of two police officers and four ticket inspectors to extort money from a tourist couple. The ticket inspectors disappeared as quickly as they had appeared as soon as the money had been force from us. We were simply abandoned late at night somewhere between Kazimierz and Kraków Old Town. According to local knowledge, these are state sponsored thugs who target tourists on popular tram routes earning commission on fines and this is the common tactic. Commission based fines simply intensifies this kind of unforgiving thuggish behaviour. This greedy ‘fine’ is unacceptable and now leaves us with a bitter experience of your City. Such primitive and disgusting tactics to mine money from tourists fall well below Western culture standards.
Our firm impression now of Kraków is that we will never return to Poland again - there are better places to visit in Europe. Although Kraków has been westernised, the authorities in Poland still possess a post-Soviet attitude.