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What we know so far about Germany’s €9 monthly travel ticket plans

The coalition government has agreed on a relief package to ease the pressure on people in Germany dealing with high energy costs. Cheap travel tickets are part of the plans. What do we know so far?

People use the U-bahn in Munich.
People use the U-bahn in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

What’s all this about?

The traffic light coalition has put together a massive relief package to support residents struggling with high fuel costs. The plans include a €300 one-off payment to taxpayer, fuel tax cut and a cheaper travel ticket offer. 

READ MORE: What Germany’s energy relief package means for you

Why cheaper public transport?

The €9 monthly travel ticket is aimed at encouraging people to ditch their cars and use public transport, protecting the environment in the process. 

“In the current situation especially, public transport is for many citizens a necessary, efficient and cost-effective alternative to their own cars and at the same time the most environmentally friendly means of transport next to the bicycle,” writes the coalition in its resolution paper on the relief package.

“That is why we are introducing a ticket for €9/month (“9 for 90″) for 90 days, and will increase regionalisation funds so that the states can organise this.”

The ticket will be valid for three months and cost a total of €9 per month or €27 in total.

Following a meeting with state transport ministers on Friday, Transport Minister Volker Wissing said that the government wanted to use the ticket as an incentive to switch to public transport and to save energy.

He put the loss of revenue for transport companies at €10 billion and said it would be covered by the federal government, including possible additional costs.

Who can buy the €9 ticket?

Anyone and everyone will be able to get it, it won’t be aimed at a particular group of people.

What if I already have an annual or monthly subscription (known as an Abo)?

This is on the minds of a lot of people. Berlin’s public transport provider BVG alone has almost 290,000 subscribers who pay a monthly or yearly fee for a ticket.

An annual pass for Berlin and the surrounding area, for example, costs €978 – which translates to about €81 a month. If monthly tickets were also available for 90 days for €9, transport bosses say it is clear how many regular customers would react.

“They would cancel – with huge consequences for the transport companies,” one company said, according to the Berliner Zeitung. 

For this reason, the advice to these valuable customers from the likes of BVG, S-Bahn Berlin (and other transport providers across Germany) is to sit tight.

“We would like to ask all customers not to cancel their subscriptions, but to wait for our active communication,” the Berlin-Brandenburg VBB transport operator said on Thursday.

BVG is now discussing measures, such as giving subscription customers three months of free travel. A special ticket is also being discussed that regular customers can purchase as soon as the validity of their current ticket ends.

However, the German government is also set to address this issue. 

According to Federal Transport Minister Wissing, the planned cheaper tickets will also apply to people who have subscriptions.

He said there was no reason to cancel a subscription ticket because of this new offer. Subscription customers would have to be reimbursed the difference to the price of their tickets. 

But Wissing did not give concrete details of how it would work in practice. 

Where will the public transport ticket from the relief package be available?

The decision paper does not specify any restrictions – so it can be assumed that the ticket will be valid for all regional and local public transport.

When will the special ticket be available?

We don’t know about this either. It will depend on how fast the package can be pushed through, how quickly the government pumps the money to federal states and how long they then need to implement the ticket.

There is some speculation. According to DPA sources, the start date could be May 1st or June 1st this year. 

The day after the announcement of the new “9 for 90” ticket, the ‘traffic light’ coalition parties (SPD, Greens and FDP) said there was still a need to clarify and get the small print together. Various regional transport companies also said they had been given no advance information from the government on this move. 

However Transport Minister Wissing said he thought the low-priced ticket could be implemented relatively quickly if online tickets were offered.

What’s the reaction?

It’s mixed. The passenger association Pro Bahn slammed the planned ticket.

“In our view, ‘9 for 90’ is a populist quick fix with no lasting effect,” Karl-Peter Naumann, spokesman for Pro Bahn, told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

Pro Bahn said it would make more sense to invest the money in the expansion of public transport. They also said there were still too many unanswered questions about the practical implementation.

Some people have also raised that this measure is aimed at people in towns and cities, and won’t benefit communities with far fewer transport links. 

Others, including state have said suggested that the government could make transport free rather than €9 per month.

Economist Veronika Grimm welcomed the plans.

“I think it is right to relieve people with low incomes, those who need it most too,” she said.

“Making public transport cheaper is also the right thing to do.”

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TRAVEL NEWS

Who benefits from Germany’s €9 public transport ticket offer?

With Germany set to roll out the €9 monthly transport ticket soon, we looked at how it could benefit you (or not) - whether you're a car owner, tourist or a day tripper.

Who benefits from Germany's €9 public transport ticket offer?

For just €9 a month, passengers will be able to travel by bus, train and tram on local and regional transport throughout Germany over summer.

The ticket, which is in place for three months from June, is an unprecedented attempt to relieve German residents financially amid spiralling inflation, and to convince car owners to switch to more climate-friendly choices.

This Thursday, the Bundestag (German federal parliament) will make a final decision on the financing aspect to it, and on Friday it will go to the Bundesrat, which represents the 16 states.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block €9 ticket

Supporters see a great opportunity for more climate-friendly transport, while critics fear a flash in the pan and warn that overcrowded buses and trains are more likely to scare off potential new users. Of course, people with less disposable income will be helped most by this offer. But which other groups will actually benefit from the €9 ticket?

Long-term public transport customers (ÖPNV-Stammkunden)

If you have a subscription – known as an Abo in Germany – for local transport with a monthly or annual ticket, the ticket is a huge boost. That’s because you will only be charged €9 for the months of June, July and August or you’ll receive a refund or credit note. Many transport associations even hope to gain permanent subscription customers with the the lure of three low-cost months.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

Car commuters (Auto-Pendler)

In a survey by Germany’s KfW, three quarters of households that use a car said they would consider switching regularly to buses and trains. So those who are well served by public transport, and who have suitable bus and rail connections to work, may well decide to make the switch because of the cheap offer. This will especially benefit people in large and medium-sized towns. 

If this is you, you’ll definitely save cash by leaving your car at home and taking public transport. The €9 monthly ticket costs less than 50 cents per working day. You won’t get back and forth by car to your destination that cheaply, even if the cut on fuel tax comes as planned.

READ ALSO: How many people will use the €9 ticket?

People driving to and from Cologne.

People driving to and from Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

Day trippers (Ausflügler)

For many day trips and weekends away, and even for some longer holidays in Germany, it can be worth buying a car. But the €9 ticket does hold the promise of offering excursions throughout the country, as long as you use regional trains since long-distance trains – like the high speed ICE – are not included. 

The Local has even gathered some of the best trips possible with the ticket, and tourism is expected to see a big boost. However, at the start and end of long weekends, such as the upcoming Whitsun (June 5th and 6th) and Corpus Christi (June 16th) in some states, the passenger association Pro Bahn expects chaos on trains heading for the coast and mountains. So perhaps choose your times to travel wisely. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

Residents in villages and small towns (Dorfbewohner)

As some Local readers have pointed out, the low-cost ticket for public transport is not so much use if buses – or even trains – rarely stop at the place you live. This is the case in many villages across Germany. According to calculations by the railway subsidiary Loki, many rural stops don’t even have an hourly service. 

Drivers can save on fuel and parking fees with a €9 ticket, but you need the transport connections to be able to benefit from it. Otherwise you’ll have to shell out more on taxis on top of the public transport cost. 

Cyclists (Radfahrer)

First thing first, the €9 ticket does not include a bike ticket, so you’ll have to buy one if you want to board a train with your bicycle. However, even if you buy a ticket for your bike to carry alongside your €9 ticket, the quality of your trip will very much depend on the day and time of travel, as well as the route you’re going on.

It often gets cramped on trains for passengers with bicycles, plus the number of bike parking spaces is limited. If it gets too crowded, train staff can decide not to let any more people with bikes on – even if you already have a ticket.

Trains are expected to be very busy during summer because of the low-cost ticket offer. Some operators are asking people not to take bikes on board. Berlin and Brandenburg operator VBB, for instance, urged all passengers to refrain from taking bikes with them during the campaign period and recommends travelling outside of rush hours. 

A cyclist enjoys a break in Ingelheim, Rhineland-Palatinate.

A cyclist enjoys a break in Ingelheim, Rhineland-Palatinate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

Tourists (Touristen)

A group that will definitely benefit form this ticket is people visiting Germany. The ticket costs €9 per calendar month (so €27 in total). But a single day ticket in Munich costs €8.20 normally (and even more depending on the zone). In Berlin, a single day ticket costs €8.80. So even if you’re staying in Germany for two days, if you plan to be on public transport, you’ll get a good deal. 

READ ALSO: What tourists to Germany need to know about reduced-price public transport

Families (Familien)

According to Deutsche Bahn, 6-to 14-year-olds need their own €9 ticket or another ticket; as free transport is excluded from the cheaper transport offer.

Children under six do, however, generally travel free of charge. If you have a lot of children and only want to make a one-off trip, you may be better off with a normal ticket; it includes free travel for children up to the age of 14. For this one, it’s best to check on the local public transport provider’s options before you commit to the €9 ticket. 

Long-distance travellers and commuters (Fernreisende und Fernpendler)

As we mentioned above, the €9 ticket is not valid for long-distance travel, whether on ICE, Intercity and Eurocity, or the night trains of different providers, or on Flixtrain or Flixbus.

The DB long-distance ticket also includes the so-called City Ticket in 130 German cities: free travel to the station and on to the destination by public transport. So if you have this ticket, the €9 ticket is probably not needed.

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