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Here in Sofia (Bulgaria) when using the tram/metro/bus you not only need to buy a ticket for yourself but also one for each piece of (large) luggage you carry with you.

I read about this in a guide book but it is not well advertised on the vehicles, considering I don't speak Bulgarian and have not fully mastered the Cyrillic alphabet.

On the metro in Budapest the same rule exists, but at least there are signs in English and they also tell you how big your bags are suppose to be to fall under this rule.

You may think that as a foreigner you could try to avoid a fee when a inspector caught you and pretend you did not know, but I've heard of cases where this did not work.

So when should I buy the extra ticket?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Here's an excerpt from the current Ordinance On Passenger Transport And Terms Of Travel In Sofia’s Public Transport (last revision 01.01.2011) on the official website of the Urban Mobility Center in Sofia. You would usually find the terms also on the back of the driver's cabin (in Bulgarian), on an A2 poster filled with a wall of text.

Art. 9 (1) A passenger who holds a valid transport document has the right to free transit of hand luggage of dimensions of up to 60x40x40 cm. The measurement is taken using a measuring tool. The charge for each piece of luggage of dimensions exceeding those specified above is:

  • one single trip ticket (bought in advance from the driver or from on-board ticket vending machine in trams and trolleybuses)

So, in effect, you shouldn't be having problems unless you have bags with larger dimensions (in either direction), or more than one of them.

I lived in Sofia for more than three years, and bought tickets for my baggage maybe less than 50% of the times when I was supposed to. You will rarely get into trouble for this if you are not obstructing a sitting place or if the vehicle is not full.

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Some years ago in Ukraine I took the trolley bus from Simferopol to Yalta and I was charged a (small) extra fee for my luggage. However, the unique experience of doing this trip by bus was worth it ;-)

You may think that as a foreigner you could try to avoid a fee when a conductor caught you and pretend you did not know, but I've heard of cases where this did not work

Yep. Their argument is (rightly, IMO) that being the foreigner does not exempt you from knowing the rules ...

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I took that bus too (in September 2011) but wasn't charged extra plus I consider that more an intercity bus and in many countries you are charged extra for your luggage on overland buses. –  Peter Hahndorf Nov 23 '11 at 21:00
    
Well, the length of the trip (2+ hours) is more intercity, but the kind of bus (and the rather frequents stops) is more urban or local style. –  user766 Nov 23 '11 at 21:09
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I checked two other guide books and found this:

DK Eyewitness Travel Bulgaria:

This rule is, however, only really enforced to and from the airport. Within the city it is widely ignored.

The Rough Guide to Bulgaria:

Officially, you’re supposed to buy an extra ticket for each large item of baggage, but in practice this is rarely enforced - except on buses to and from the airport, where inspectors deliberately pick on foreigners on the grounds that they’re less likely than the locals to put up an argument.

I talked about this with the two local girls at the reception of my hostel and they said the statements above are not true, they also check on other routes in the city.

So to be on the save side, find out the size of you luggage and if it larger than 60x40x40 cm, always buy an extra ticket.

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I bought an extra ticket for my backpack for a bus ride from Sofia airport to the city center. The girl selling the bus tickets told me to do this.

The bus eventually got crowded, so I realized the ticket wasn't for a bus seat, but for taking up room in the bus. I would have felt embarrassed taking up two seats, when there are elders coming on the bus.

The ticket is only 1 BGN (0.67 USD), so I would buy an extra when going to and from the airport with your luggage.

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