German ministers approve monthly subscription of €49

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November 07, 2022

by Christopher Carey

Leaders of Germany’s federal government and 16 states have formally agreed on a new €49 ($49) monthly pass after weeks of political wrangling.

The ticket – a successor to the €9 pass tested over the summer – will give people unlimited access to regional train, metro and bus services across the country.

Raimund Brodehl, Deputy Managing Director Transport and Mobility Transition, City of Hamburg

Talk to cities todayRaimund Brodehl, Deputy Managing Director Transport and Mobility Transition Hamburg, said: “This [ticket] makes access much easier and also cheaper for people traveling long distances.

“I expect higher and more stable demand. But above all, the ticket is the prelude to a comprehensive reform of the public transport system not only in Hamburg, but throughout Germany.

“This is urgently needed from the perspective of climate protection.”

The new “Deutschlandticket” was officially approved last week, with January 1, 2023 being offered as a possible start date.

Commenting on the announcement, German Transport Minister Volker Wissing said that “the way is now clear for the biggest reform of public transport fares in Germany”.

The new note is expected to cost around 3 billion euros in taxpayer subsidies, to be shared equally between the federal government and the states.

Pros and cons

The €49 ticket will be seen as a compromise – environmental and consumer groups had called for an extension of the €9 ticket, but several politicians were determined to oppose it.

While the €9 scheme has proven popular with the public and has helped to mitigate the impact of soaring inflation and bring ridership back to pre-COVID levels, it has also cost the taxpayer German about 2.5 billion euros.

“The mentality of free is not sustainably fundable, not efficient and not fair,” tweeted the country’s federal finance minister, Christian Lindner, in August.

One of the central concepts behind the ticket was that it would lead to a reduction in car use and reinforce Germany’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

But the data on whether it happened and whether it can be attributed to the ticket is so far mixed.

According to the German Office for National Statistics, the first month of the program saw only a slight reduction in road traffic, but a huge increase in train travel – in June 2022 the average train travel was 42% higher to that of June 2019.

The biggest increase in numbers was seen at weekends, bolstering the argument that people were using the ticket for leisure trips they might not have taken otherwise.

According to public transport lobby group the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), the scheme saved 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 because commuters weren’t using their cars as much.

But the group also found that in the greater Munich area, just 3% of people left their cars at home in favor of local public transport. He said that overall, a quarter of public transport journeys taken over the summer would not have been taken without the ticket, calling these “additional journeys, not substitute journeys”.

A full assessment of the impact of the €9 note is expected from the government later this month.

Image: Albert Koch (Flickr)

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