The 9-euro ticket becomes a bestseller. At the start of sales on Monday, Deutsche Bahn sold more than 200,000 of the extremely cheap monthly tickets in just a few hours, with which you can use all local transport throughout Germany and as often as you like in June, July and August.
“There is incredibly lively interest, we are experiencing historically large access to our sales systems,” said DB Regio boss Jörg Sandvoß in a press conference. Other transport companies and the associations in Berlin and Hamburg had previously reported brisk demand.
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“There has never been an offer like this in Germany,” emphasizes Sandvoß. Using public transport as a whole costs just 30 cents per day. The ticket is “a great, big experiment”, it is extremely simple and you can use it to get on all local and regional buses and trains between Flensburg and Garmisch. So far, however, there is “no idea” how many additional passengers will come. For public transport and climate protection, however, it is “a unique opportunity” that should be used.
In view of the existing bottlenecks in infrastructure and trains, the DB Group wants to “move everything we have” in order to be able to cope with the expected rush of travelers from June 1st without major delays and operational disruptions. The DB Regio, with its 37,000 employees, has 50 reserve trains running and will thus increase the offer by 60,000 seats in the regional and S-Bahn trains with an additional 250 trips a day.
The number of staff on trains and at stations is to be increased, particularly along tourist routes, where the greatest rush is expected during holiday periods and on nice weekend excursions. More than 700 additional service and security staff will help with boarding and alighting, support travelers with luggage or bicycles and provide information. “That’s four times as many as in a normal summer,” emphasizes Sandvoß. In addition, the maintenance and cleaning of trains in the works and by mobile maintenance teams will be increased.
The way for the first nationwide local transport ticket was only cleared last Friday after some contentious debates with the approval of the Federal Council. The federal government finances the three-month discount with 2.5 billion euros in tax revenue, which goes to the federal states that organize regional transport. The federal states are constantly demanding more money for its long-term financing in order to be able to offer a larger range of buses and trains in cities and regions in the future.
The changes for the 9-euro ticket, for example in the sales system, had to be managed in a very short time, said Sandvoß and thanked the companies and employees involved. As the largest local transport provider, DB Regio alone ensures the mobility of commuters, schoolchildren and day-trippers with 22,000 train journeys and 10,000 buses every day. Last year, 1.5 billion passengers were brought to their destination, before Corona it was even 2.5 billion in 2019.
Some railway experts expect overcrowded regional trains around the weekend, especially on popular excursion routes. Because comfortable and fast connections such as from Berlin to the Baltic Sea, from Hamburg to Sylt or in the southwest to Lake Constance are in high demand in summer even at normal times. The Pro Bahn passenger association therefore advises using less congested trains in regions that are not as crowded when the weather is nice.
“We can’t bake trains,” Sandvoß is already campaigning for understanding and consideration. “Just as a sudden traffic jam on the freeway delays travel, this can also happen on the train when there is a high volume of traffic.” With intensive preparation, a little consideration and mutual understanding, everyone could contribute together to ensuring that “climate-friendly public transport and millions of passengers as Winners will emerge from this promotion”.
Sandvoss warns that it is not always possible to guarantee that bicycles will be taken along. In addition, the transport usually has to be paid extra and is regulated differently in the many transport associations. Because of the record investments in the rail network, which has been neglected for a long time, detours and longer travel times must also be expected on quite a few routes.
The construction measures are planned for the long term, continue unabated and cannot simply be suspended in the summer, argues the DB Group. Because the modernization will create more capacity for further passenger growth on the rails. The 9-euro ticket is also intended to encourage travelers and commuters to switch to buses and trains as permanently as possible. Commissioned market researchers are to evaluate in the next few months whether this has been successful.