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When will Germany introduce the €9 monthly travel ticket?

The German government recently announced it was bringing in a relief package to ease the pain of rising energy costs, and it will include a €9 monthly travel ticket. When is it likely to come into force?

Tram users in Potsdam, Brandenburg.
Tram users in Potsdam, Brandenburg. Germany is introducing a €9 monthly ticket for a limited time. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Monika Skolimowska

What’s happening?

Germany wants to significantly reduce the cost of public travel in order to ease the pressure on households during the energy crisis. 

As part of their energy relief package, the government, made up of a coalition between the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) has proposed a €9 per month travel ticket for a limited period of three months (costing €27 in total).

It would allow people to use their local bus, tram, U-Bahn and train network at a heavily discounted price – monthly travel tickets in Germany typically cost around €80 to €100. 

Other measures include a €300 one-off payment to taxpayers, more support for struggling households and fuel tax cuts.

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

When is this ticket coming?

Many people are eager to know when this travel ticket will come into force since it will make a massive difference to the lives of many, especially those struggling financially. 

At the moment, details are still thin on the ground but more information is emerging. 

On Friday Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the ticket should be introduced by June 1st at the latest. 

“We should not postpone it too much into the summer, because we want to give an incentive to save energy now, in the acute situation,” said the FDP politician after a meeting with Hamburg’s mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD).

“By June 1st at the latest, I would say, it has to come.”

During his visit to Schleswig-Holstein, however, Wissing signalled that the ticket could be implemented as early as May 1st. Earlier, a spokesman for his ministry had also said that Wissing believed introducing the ticket on May 1st was possible.

However, transport companies have proposed June as the better start date.

In a letter from the Association of German Transport Companies (Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen or VDV) to Wissing, they stated that, following internal consultations, the industry considers a start date of June 1st for the discounted public transport ticket to be realistic – provided the relevant framework conditions are established in time.

READ ALSO: Where public transport costs are going up in Germany

People wait for an U-Bahn train in Munich.

People wait for an U-Bahn train in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

‘Field trial’

In Hamburg, Transport Minister Wissing said that the €9 ticket could also be used to evaluate customer flows and the future of transport in Germany. 

He spoke of a “huge field trial” to find out how it would affect travel behaviour and how the discount would be accepted by people.

Wissing reiterated that he recommends offering the discount via an online ticket. “I don’t think it makes sense to print extra tickets for this or to convert ticket machines,” he said.

The cheap public transport ticket could also help to take a step forward in the digitalisation of systems. There are “not quite modern administrative structures in the area” of public transport, he said.

However, the transport association has suggested that tickets should be available at ticket machines because many passengers use them, especially older customers. 

The operators also say there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

They want to know how the ticket will work for people who have different types of ticket subscriptions (known as Abos in Germany) with transport companies, and they say clear regulations from the government are needed.

It’s also unclear if it would work in individual regions or be valid across Germany – for example, would customers be able to use it in Munich and Hamburg?

With its patchwork of local operators, Germany’s public transport network and system of tariffs is complex, which could create headaches when it comes to implementing the new ticket.

According to a VDV spokesperson, the necessary political decisions are still pending.

As soon as they are available, the industry will need about four weeks to implement them. For instance, distribution systems would have to be adapted and customers informed.

“If we do not know where and for whom the ticket is to apply and when the funding for it will be available to the companies and associations, we cannot begin with the implementation,” said the spokesperson, reported Zeit on Friday.

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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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