30.06.2022, Berlin: Fahrgäste steigen am Berliner Hauptbahnhof aus einem Regionalexpress aus. Millionen Menschen haben im ersten Gültigkeitsmonat das 9-Euro-Ticket gekauft - und damit wohl auch den Berufsverkehr auf den Straßen entlastet. Dem Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen (VDV) zufolge wurden bundesweit rund 21 Millionen der Sonderfahrkarten verkauft. Foto: Christoph Soeder/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The nine-euro ticket is a tangible and at the same time popular measure in German politics. As one component in the package to relieve citizens of the massive increase in energy costs, the cheap all-you-can-drive ticket for local and regional transport proved to be a hit:

In June alone, around 21 million nine-euro tickets were sold in Germany. Added to this are the ten million subscribers who have automatically received the ticket. Surveys underscore the popularity of the offer. In a survey of Tagesspiegel readers, 67 percent said that the nine-euro ticket needed a successor. Transport Minister Volker Wissing described the ticket as a “huge success”.

E-mobility, transport policy and future mobility: the briefing on transport and smart mobility. For decision makers

The appeal of the offer lies in the unbeatable price, which is subsidized by the state with 2.5 billion euros. In addition, the ticket is convenient. You can just get in and drive off, anywhere in Germany. The nine-euro ticket cuts a path through the German tariff jungle of regional transport associations.

There is also criticism of the ticket, which has sometimes led to congested regional trains, which is particularly annoying for commuters. Nevertheless, there are increasing demands that the nine-euro ticket be continued in some form. Finance Minister Christian Lindner can still refuse and insist on the federal government’s debt brake, which is to be observed again in 2023, while the railway unions refer to the increased workload on railway staff as a result of the nine-euro ticket.

We are now looking at the ideas that are in the air for making local and regional public transport in Germany usable with a cheap monthly ticket in the future.

The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) proposes simply extending the nine-euro ticket by two more months as an interim solution. This would allow customers to travel cheaply by bus and train in September and October.

This would certainly make the transition to the uncomfortable autumn easier. As an argument, VDV Managing Director Oliver Wolff cites the relief of citizens from the high energy prices. Gas will be significantly more expensive from October. The VDV is in favor of a 69-euro ticket that is valid nationwide.

It costs 60 euros more, but offers the same service: According to the VDV, the 69-euro ticket, which is valid nationwide, could be a successor to the nine-euro ticket. This offer would still be cheaper than a classic monthly ticket, which in Berlin for zones AB costs 86 euros in the standard tariff.

VDV Managing Director Wolff told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that he could imagine a reduction in the monthly price from 69 to 29 or 39 euros for the needy. Politicians could decide on the reduction as a temporary measure, for example for the duration of the war in Ukraine.

The German Association of Cities, which represents the interests of local authorities, supports the proposal to introduce a 69-euro ticket. City Day President Markus Lewe spoke of a “good idea”. The dpa also quotes him as follows: “The prerequisite for this, however, is that the federal and state governments use the time involved and agree on a follow-up solution that they can also finance in a sustainable manner.”

A permanently available, inexpensive, nationwide valid monthly ticket would be a revolution in public transport in Germany – whether the ticket costs 69 euros, or even only 29, as demanded by the Federal Consumer Association (vzbv).

Chairwoman Ramona Pop told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “We are demanding a continuation with a 29-euro ticket from September.” At this price, climate-friendly mobility is affordable for many.

Pop, who is a member of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, sees a great benefit in the simplification that a €29 ticket would bring. Customers then do not have to understand the fare system before they board the bus and train. However, especially in rural areas, the transport service must be expanded. “The dismantling of railway lines in the past decades was a wrong decision.”

Many mobile phone tariffs include a certain volume of data per month, which can be used without surcharge or throttling. The transport scientist Klaus Bogenberger proposed a similar model for local public transport in the Bavarian TV show “Sonntags-Stammtisch”.

Customers could then, for example, book 200 kilometers by public transport at a price of 20 euros. The debit should be made directly via mobile phone, which is technically possible today. Printed tickets are also possible.

Klaus Bogenberger also suggested offering cheap monthly passes for entire federal states. It makes sense to have a 70-euro ticket based on the Austrian model, which is then valid throughout Bavaria or the Berlin-Brandenburg region, for example.

This offer could also be designed as a 365-euro-a-year ticket, possibly only for certain groups such as schoolchildren, students, trainees and older people. For comparison: A BVG subscription paid annually in the Berlin tariff zone AB currently costs 728 euros.

It would be even easier for all customers to make access to local public transport completely free of charge. The radical proposal is put forward by the Left Party, which claims that this vision could be realized within five years. The project is to be financed, among other things, by reducing climate-damaging subsidies for air travel and company cars.

In view of the current majorities in the Bundestag, where the left as the smallest parliamentary group has only 39 MPs, implementation is unlikely in the near future.