Transport Minister Volker Wissing wants to use the nine-euro tickets to achieve far-reaching improvements for a permanently more attractive local public transport system. “We have to seize the opportunity to get more people excited about public transport,” said the FDP politician to the German Press Agency. “We want to attract new passengers.” To achieve this, the offer should be more understandable, more uniform and thus more customer-friendly. Wissing also advocated practical local transport apps and simpler tariffs.
In addition, small-scale organizational structures would have to be broken up, the minister made clear. Uniform tariffs and offers across all transport associations are also a real added value for customers. “People don’t live in tariff zones. People want to get from A to B. All the technical things that play a role in the background have to become invisible to users. Digitization helps us there, and we have to use it more. We should think about public transport more beyond our own zone and our own special-purpose association.”
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Wissing described the nine-euro ticket launched at the beginning of the month as a “field test”. It is an opportunity to examine to what extent the price is the entry hurdle for public transport or whether more attractive offers are important. “In this way we can gain important insights into exactly this question and adjust our public transport offer accordingly.” And greater use of public transport helps to achieve the climate protection goals in the transport sector.
The nine-euro tickets are valid in June, July and August and allow unlimited travel on local and regional buses and trains throughout Germany for one month – much cheaper than normal monthly tickets, which are also only valid in the network area.
“Together with the federal states and transport companies, we have made possible what some federal states seemed impossible just a few weeks ago – namely, we got this ticket up and running in a very short time,” said Wissing. “In doing so, we have fundamentally set something in motion to improve public transport.”
Consumer advocates have already warned to avoid impending price increases after the end of the campaign. Wissing said in this context: “If we can increase the utilization of local transport with the ticket and customers stay with it, then the associations and transport companies will have more income per month, and the financial situation will also improve.”
If it is also possible to win many people who are now trying out the offer as permanent customers, then this will also have a positive effect on income in the future. “Incidentally, the federal states get the revenue losses from the nine-euro ticket financed by the federal government.”
The planned evaluation of the special campaign will also provide information about the regions in which the ticket is not used, explained the minister. “And then you will have to ask whether the offer there is not user-friendly enough.”
The federal states are constantly demanding more regionalization funds from the federal government, with which they or transport associations can order local transport services from providers. However, Wissing initially urges reforms. “The analysis of the nine-euro ticket will give us clear indications of where we need to go,” he said. The federal states want to present the results of a working group proposed by Wissing by autumn, in order to then talk about the regionalization funds for the 2023 budget.
“This gives us the opportunity to put public transport financing on a solid footing in the long term and to make public transport much more convenient and attractive for everyone,” said the minister. The system must become more efficient and powerful. “We have to think about public transport based on the needs of customers and not on our local transport structures.” This includes user-friendly local transport apps for which associations and companies would have to make customer data available to each other.
As state minister in Rhineland-Palatinate, he merged individual special-purpose associations into larger units. “The resistance was initially massive, but as a result we were able to achieve many improvements for public transport. It’s about adapting the structures to the reality of people’s lives and bringing them up to date. Many small associations that have to agree on tariffs with each other do not make progress as quickly as a large association.”