In the traffic light coalition, the dispute over the extension of the nine-euro ticket is intensifying. Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) strictly rejects further funding from the federal government once the offer has expired at the end of August. “The nine-euro ticket is a temporary measure, just like the fuel discount. That is why the federal budget does not provide for a continuation of the tank discount or funds for a follow-up regulation for the nine-euro ticket,” Lindner told the newspapers of the Funke media group.
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Opposition comes from the Greens leader Ricarda Lang. She calls for a follow-up regulation – and also suggests a way to finance Lindner. “More than 30 million tickets have already been sold, and according to a recent survey, around 80 percent of those surveyed are in favor of continuing: Apparently, the potential for affordable public transport in Germany is huge and the nationwide nine-euro ticket is a successful model for which we are finding a follow-up regulation should – not least from a climate policy point of view,” Lang told the Tagesspiegel.
“But it is also true that if we want to meet the current demand in the long term, the transport companies must be financially able to invest and expand the networks. That would be important steps towards social and climate-friendly mobility.” The Greens’ financing solution: “As far as the search for funds is concerned, we are of course always ready to talk about the cancellation of environmentally harmful subsidies,” said Lang.
In Lindner’s view, the taxpayers are financing an offer that does not cover costs with the cheaper local transport. “Even those who cannot use the offer even in rural areas pay with it.” The concept does not convince him. “In any case, the federal government could not pay for it, since the debt brake must be complied with again in 2023.”
The nine-euro ticket, which is valid for three months, is part of the relief packages of the traffic light coalition, which are intended to compensate for the increased energy and fuel prices. On the other hand, switching to buses and trains should become more attractive. With the ticket, passengers can use public transport throughout Germany for nine euros a month. It was introduced in June and limited to three months.
In view of the high demand, various proposals for possible connection solutions are currently being discussed. However, the financing is unclear. According to the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), the federal government is providing around three billion euros for the three months.
Transport Minister Volker Wissing made it clear in the middle of the week that he sees it as the federal states’ turn to decide on a successor. “I can’t even design a ticket, the federal states have to do it,” said the FDP politician. In principle, Wissing was open to a successor plan. “We have to take a close look at the price at which such a ticket could be offered throughout Germany,” he said.
Union parliamentary group manager Thorsten Frei considers a continuation of the ticket “not a good idea”. The CDU politician told the editorial network Germany that there was no problem that people had to be relieved of local transport because the costs were too high. From his point of view, it is “much smarter” to invest in the expansion of local transport infrastructure and to buy more wagons. “We experienced that in the summer that many people changed with the nine-euro ticket, but the infrastructure simply didn’t grow with it,” said the CDU politician.
In a survey by the Kantar Institute on behalf of the news magazine Focus, 79 percent support a similar ticket that is supported by the state. 16 percent are against it. At 90 percent, approval is greatest among the under-30s.
The local transport industry is campaigning for the nine-euro ticket to be extended by two more months. “We need a successor solution quickly,” says Oliver Wolff, Managing Director of the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. “It would be best to extend the campaign by another two months as a temporary solution. The ticket could continue to be valid in September and October, thus relieving citizens of the high energy prices,” emphasized Wolff.
Wolff said the proposal for an interim solution of two months would give politicians and the industry time to develop a permanent offer for a nationwide local transport ticket. Wolff called on the federal and state governments to get together quickly. “People shouldn’t fall into a hole at the end of August.” After all, energy prices are still high.
The VDV had long proposed a nationwide valid 69-euro ticket. Politicians could lower this monthly price to 29 or 39 euros for the needy “for socio-political reasons – for example for the duration of the war,” said Wolff.
Support for the proposal comes from the German Association of Cities. The proposal is “a good idea,” said Markus Lewe, President of the City Council. “However, the prerequisite for this 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 solution is needed quickly on how to proceed.
The first results of a large-scale study on the nine-euro ticket confirm that the nine-euro ticket is definitely effective. 35 percent of the study participants from the Munich area traveled more frequently by bus and train, as the research group at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) just announced. In addition, three percent used their own vehicle less often and 22 percent of the participants used the bus and train again, although they had not previously done so.
In addition, the researchers also observed an effect on traffic in Munich: the flow of vehicles there decreased by around three percent in June compared to May – although it normally increases by around the same amount from May to June.
A special feature of the Munich study is that it not only relies on surveys, but also uses smartphones to measure actual mobility behavior. Data from around 700 to 750 participants flowed in every day, as study director Klaus Bogenberger, professor at the Chair of Traffic Engineering at TUM, explains. A total of around 1000 people take part.
“It was not to be expected that daily behavior would change radically because of a new offer,” Bogenberger classifies the first data and emphasizes: “The proportion of people who use alternatives to their own car for the first time is all the higher.” At the beginning, many people tested the bus and train, he says. You can now see a slight fading of curiosity.