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Call for €1 per day annual public transport ticket throughout Germany

Germany is looking at ways to encourage people to leave their car at home and take public transport. Now the Social Democrats are pushing for annual public transport tickets to cost €1 per day.

Call for €1 per day annual public transport ticket throughout Germany
The tram network in Mainz, Rhineland Palatinate. Photo: DPA

The centre-left SPD says reducing the price of public transport will help Germany meet its climate targets and make it more affordable for people to get around.

“We want everyone to be able to travel by bus and train at affordable prices, whether in the big city or in the countryside,” the party said in a 30-page proposal on climate protection presented by the parliamentary group in the Bundestag. 

Local authorities should therefore be supported “in the gradual introduction of a €365 annual ticket,” said the report, which was seen by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

As The Local reported in July, Michael Müller, the SPD mayor of Berlin, wants to introduce the ticket in the capital. 

READ ALSO: Germany's most expensive (and cheapest) cities for public transport

Müller said he was “inspired” by Vienna's public transport ticket system which successfully introduced a €365 annual travel card in 2012. 

Some German cities now offer this ticket, but it’s mostly only for school pupils and trainees. The SPD, however, wants everyone to benefit from it.

“Mobility is a fundamental right of every individual,” said SPD deputy faction leader Sören Bartol.

The SPD plans to vote on the paper internally on Friday. 

READ ALSO: These are the ways Munich should improve its public transport system

On September 20th, the government intends to pass resolutions on how its climate targets for 2030 can be achieved. With this paper, the SPD parliamentary group is in a good position for the upcoming negotiations with its coalition partner, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU). 

Overall, public transport is highly popular in Germany, with the number of journeys increasing regularly over the past 20 years, reaching 10.3 billion in 2017.

But critics have warned that it were free or the price heavily reduced, more investment and planning would be needed to accommodate the extra passengers on trips that are already crowded in busy hubs.

The SPD believes costs can be offset by the introduction of a carbon tax which would result in a so-called climate bonus being paid out to people who consume less CO2.

Proposals unveiled earlier this year by Environment Minister Svenja Schulze were for an initial €35 tax on each metric ton of CO2, to be increased to €180 by 2030. However, the draft was rejected by the CDU.

READ ALSO: How riding Germany's public transport really helps you get under a city's skin

How can Germany bring down air pollution?

Germany aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 40 percent by 2020, by 55 percent by 2030 and up to 95 percent in 2050, compared to 1990 levels. The share of renewables in gross final energy consumption is to rise to 60 percent by 2050.

Air quality has surged to the top of the agenda in recent years due to pressure from climate change activists and Volkswagen's devastating emissions cheating “dieselgate” scandal in 2015, which unleashed a wave of anger at the auto industry, a huge part of German industry.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have brought court cases aimed at banning diesel in city centres, creating polarization on the topic across Germany.

Cities such as Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg offer initiatives like free bus travel on certain days of the week in a bid to get people to leave their cars at home. Monheim in western Germany will also offer free public transport from April 2020.

READ ALSO: Why this German city plans to make public transport free

Yet, according to the Federal Environment Agency, car traffic increased by 18 percent between 1995 and 2017, resulting in more pollutants being emitted than ever before despite cleaner car engines.

LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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