Hamburg and Saint Petersburg are twin towns, but family members do not always look alike – especially in terms of public transportation. FINK.HAMBURG visited Saint Petersburg and discovered unique professions in both cities.

Tourists who arrive in Saint-Petersburg by plane can get to the city center by bus. Fortunately they don’t have to look for a ticket office or puzzle out how the ticket machines work. As in Hamburg, there is staff you can buy tickets from in every bus. In addition they answer any question about the city, they give sight seeing advices and tell you the latest city news. These persons are called conductors.

Tear up the banknote

Elena Platitsina (Елена Платицына) works as a conductor in St. Petersburg. She also answers any questions about the city, gives advices on what to visit and tells you all the latest city news.

“My responsibilities include checkin tickets and selling them to those passengers who do not have transport cards. Additionally, I keep an eye on passengers’ safety: I show them vacant seats and remind them to hold on to the handrails. Safety does matter. I take care that people don’t fall and get injured.

I am working with money and with people. That’s not difficult for me. Counting change for example is easy. But I have to be aware of possible counterfeit banknotes. They are likely to be given to conductors. I do not have a counterfeit money detector like the ones they use in banks. I check the notes with my eyes and hands.

“I can call the police or I tear up this banknote and you pay with another one. What would you choose?”

Once a passenger tried to deceive me. He gave me a counterfeit banknote of 1000 ruble. I said to him: ‘I can call the police or I tear up this banknote and you pay with another one. What would you choose?’. He answered: ‘Tear it up’. He probably thought that I would not do it. Other passengers were watching the whole scene. An old lady said what everybody was thinking: ‘What are you doing? This is money and you should not tear it up.’

Finally, I tore up that banknote and the passenger paid with another one. The second banknote was real. I handed out the change and his ticket.


A Conductor is checking tickets with the tap device.
If you get on a bus in Saint Petersburg you have to tap your ticket at the entrance. Afterwards a conductor doublechecks it with a tap device. Picture: Nikolas Baumgartner

“There are less and less fare dodgers”

“Conductors do not have the right to kick out fare dodgers. We are also not allowed to swear because other passengers might feel disturbed. There is another profession, the controllers. They are responsible for expel troublemakers. In extremely difficult situations conductors can ask the drivers for support. I did that once. The driver stopped the bus and waited until the troublemaker got off.

Sometimes I can recognize a fare dodger even before he or she even enters the bus. For example: Those at the bus stop who purposefully head towards the rear door of the bus are unlikely to pay. However, there are less and less fare dodgers nowadays. Everyone is eager to pay so that the conductor would not distract them from their smartphones.

Currently I am working four days a week. I have morning and evening shifts. Thereby I can see the city by night and day. This is something I really like about my job. I think my profession suits me. I love it very much.”

Dieser Text ist im Rahmen des Studierenden-Austausches der HAW Hamburg und der School Of Journalism and Mass Communication der State University St. Petersburg entstanden. Russische und deutsche Studierende haben dafür in journalistischen Tandems zusammengearbeitet.

Authors from St. Petersburg: