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How many people in Germany will use the €9 ticket?

There's a big buzz around Germany's hugely reduced public transport ticket that comes into force in June. Just how many people plan to use it?

A tram at Erfurt's Domplatz.
A tram at Erfurt's Domplatz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Martin Schutt

As energy bills and the cost of everyday goods skyrocket due to inflation, there is hope on the horizon: the coalition government has put together a financial package that will provide some relief to people

Among the measures are a €300 one-off allowance for tax-payers, a fuel tax cut and a €9 monthly travel ticket.

READ ALSO: The key dates for Germany’s energy relief payouts

The €9 ticket – which will be valid on local buses, trains and trams throughout the country from June until September – has arguably created the most buzz. Many are watching to see how successful it will be – because it could be the key to getting people to switch to public transport from their cars in future.

How popular will it be?

The jury is out in how many people will actually make use of the €9 monthly ticket, but a new survey sheds some light on people’s plans.  

According to the survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of DPA, a majority of people in Germany are positive about the ticket. About 33 percent of respondents said they would use it to travel by bus or train, and 22 percent said they “probably” would try it out.

However, more than a third of respondents – 37 percent – said they did not plan on using the €9 ticket at all.

A large majority – 80 percent of those questioned – said they didn’t yet have a ticket subscription (known as an Abo) for local public transport.

The willingness to use the ticket also seems to be a question of age: 48 percent of the 18- to 24-year-olds said they would definitely want to use it, while 26 percent said they probably would. In the group of people aged 55 and over, only 26 percent said definitely planned to use it, and 18 percent said they probably would.

Of those who do not want to use the ticket, a majority (51 percent) said it was because they don’t need it. 

Just over one in three (34 percent) said they would prefer to use other means of transport. A quarter (26 percent) said the additional expense of using buses and trains was too great.

In contrast, however, only 9 percent of respondents said they thought the ticket was a political mistake. And only a very small minority (3 percent) think the ticket is still too expensive at €9 per month.

More than 2,000 adults in Germany were asked for their opinion in the survey. 

Experts think the offer could be improved upon to cater to more of the population. 

“We think that more is needed than a €9 ticket,” said Bastian Kettner, public transport expert at Verkehrsclub Deutschland.

“What is important is the expansion of public transport as a whole and its solid financing.”

Kettner said rural parts of Germany seem to have been forgotten.

“Particularly in rural areas, where the offer is thin, the added value of the ticket is not very great, even if it is cheap,” he said. “We say that there must be at least an hourly public transport service in every town with a population of 200 or more.”

How will Germans use the ticket?

When it comes to how the ticket will be used, 51 percent of respondents said they wanted to use it mainly for tourist trips. According to the German Tourism Association, the offer is particularly attractive for day tourists and a good way to explore your own surroundings by bus and regional train.

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

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of the respondents want to use the ticket for private journeys. Just under a third (31 percent) intend to use it primarily to travel to work.

The Bundesverband Schienennahverkehr (Federal Association of Local Rail Transport) said trains, buses and trams would be busier this year.

“More than 50 percent of the respondents say that they will use or probably want to use the 9-Euro-Ticket – this will certainly lead to an increase in passengers on public transport and thus also to a higher utilisation of the SPNV (regional and local) trains,” said Chief Executive Frank Zerban.

Zerban said action plans are needed from local transport bosses to enable more staff and additional vehicle capacities – with a focus on weekends and tourist regions.

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TRAVEL NEWS

€9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany’s cheap travel deal

Germany's €9 monthly transport ticket is coming. Here's everything you should know about the deal that will allow you to to travel the country for next to nothing this summer.

€9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany's cheap travel deal

What’s all this about cheap transport?

Germany is about to launch a mega cheap transport ticket – and a lot of people are getting very excited about it.

The “€9 for 90” ticket is a monthly travel card that people can buy for just €9 per month over a three-month period. It’s a fraction of the price of a normal monthly travel card and – even more incredibly – can be used anywhere in the country on local and regional transport. 

The deal was initially announced back in April as part of an energy relief package put together by the government. And despite some anger from state leaders over funding for the scheme, the ticket cleared its final hurdle in the Bundesrat on Friday.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

So far, the €9 ticket has received a lot of publicity and attention. That’s probably because it’s one of the more fun measures to combat the energy crisis – one that doesn’t involve complicated claims and write-offs in your tax return.

Instead, the government is hoping that the new ticket will cut monthly transport costs for households and encourage people to use more eco-friendly transport options. With fuel prices spiralling, it’s a great time to leave the car at home and travel around for next to nothing, while doing your bit for the environment. 

Sounds great. Can everyone buy it?

Yes! It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tourist on a weekend trip from Austria, a part-time Germany resident or Chancellor Olaf Scholz himself: everyone will be able to purchase the €9 ticket. (We imagine Olaf may already have his own transport, though.) 

It will, however, have your name on it, so it can’t be pooled between friends (as tempting as an even cheaper travel deal would be). 

READ ALSO: What tourists in Germany need to know about the €9 public transport ticket

Busy train in Stuttgart

People board a busy train in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

When will it be available?

It’s currently available in a handful of cities, including Hamburg, Stuttgart and Freiburg – but everyone else will be able to purchase it from May 23rd onwards. 

The deal itself will be a summer travel offer. That means the first monthly ticket will be valid from June 1st and the last monthly ticket will expire on August 31st. Each of the tickets will be valid for the full calendar month so you won’t be able to mix and match with existing tickets.

For example, if you’ve already bought a ticket that’s expiring in mid-June, you wouldn’t then be able to buy a €9 ticket running from the middle of June to the middle of August.

Instead, you would require two €9 tickets  for June and July – though you can get a refund for the part of the prior ticket you didn’t end up using.

Where can I get hold of it?

The ticket will be available via Deutsche Bahn’s DB Navigator app, on the DB website, at in-station terminals and at ticket desks and offices.

Regional transport operators are likely to have their own ticket purchasing options as well – most likely online, but in some cases also at ticket machines and in-station offices. 

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

A regional train near Hornberg, in the Black Forest.

A regional train near Hornberg, in the Black Forest. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

What types of public transport can I use it on?

The ticket is valid throughout Germany, but only on regional and local transport.

That means you can use it on all local trains like the U-Bahn and S-Bahn, as well as on trams and buses. You can also travel on the Regionalverkehr (regional trains) across Germany. 

You can’t use the ticket for private services like Flixbus and Flixtrain or on other long-distance rail services like IC, EC and ICE trains. If you’re travelling around your state and aren’t sure if the ticket will be valid, check if the train you’re taking has an ‘RE’ in the name. That’s the shorthand for regional trains.

It probably goes without saying, but taxi services won’t be included in the price. And, yes, you will still need to pay for those e-scooters as well. 

Can I use it to travel first class?

If you’re hoping for a month of budget transport but also want to be treated like royalty whilst on board, we may have to disappoint you. The €9 ticket can only be used in second-class carriages.

This is largely because there’s likely to be huge demand for the budget offer – so there could be scuffles for first-class seats with that extra bit of legroom. 

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

I’ve already got an Abo. What can I do?

This has been a big concern for the folk who have already opted to pay full price for their public transport. (What fools they were…) 

Luckily, this group of keen transport users won’t miss out either. According to the DB website, people who’ve already shelled out on a monthly or annual ticket will be contacted by their local transport provider and informed about how they can get a refund.

If you’ve got a standing order set up, the transport operator will likely just debit the €9 from your account instead of the usual amount. Otherwise, you may get sent a refund via direct debit. 

Your subscription ticket will be valid for local public transport throughout Germany during the three month offer period – not just in your area.

Will students also benefit from the ticket?

Absolutely – though this is one area where things may be a little less well-organised. If you’re a student with a semester ticket, you will be entitled to a refund of the extra amount you paid, which will likely be handled by your university. 

One thing that seems a little unclear is whether the semester ticket will suddenly be valid outside of your local region, just like the €9 ticket is. We assume it will, but we’ll try to clarify this with DB and other service providers in the coming weeks. 

Can I take my bike on board?

Unfortunately, bikes aren’t included in the offer – and this seems like a deliberate choice. 

DB is recommending that people leave their bikes at home during the three months that the €9 ticket is on offer. This is because trains are likely to be extremely busy and they can’t guarantee that they’ll have room for everyone, let alone a hundred or so bikes. Instead, you can usually hire a bike at your destination.

However, if you’ve already got a subscription that allows you to take your bike with you (i.e. a student semester ticket or another type of Abo), you’ll still be able to do so. 

What about my dog? 

You will unfortunately not be able to purchase a €9 ticket in the name of Rover T. Dog (well, you could try, but it probably won’t work). However, the usual rules will apply to travelling with a furry friend. 

In some places, you may need to buy an extra dog ticket for Rover, while in others, he’ll be able to accompany you free-of-charge. 

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

A woman carries her dog through a Berlin train station

A woman carries her onesie-clad dog in a Berlin train station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Do children need to pay for a ticket? 

Children under six can travel for free on public transport, while children over the age of six will need their own €9 ticket. 

What about seat reservations? 

Transport operators are trying to keep things as flexible as possible to cope with demand over summer, so you unfortunately won’t be able to use the ticket to reserve a seat in advance.

Won’t public transport be rammed? 

At the moment, nobody really knows. According to the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), there could be as many as 30 million public transport users per month over summer – but this is only a rough estimate.

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

One way around this is to try and travel on weekdays and off-peak services where possible and (as mentioned) to hire bikes rather than bringing them in the train.

It could also be helpful to familiarise yourself with different transport connections and routes in your area. 

The other thing that could help ease the crush on public transport is the fact that the government is also planning to cut taxes on fuel in tandem with the €9 ticket. That means that, for three months over summer, drivers will be able to get cheaper petrol and diesel – so some may indeed decide to take the car after all.

The ticket ends at the end of August. What happens next? 

Once again, it’s hard to say. Critics of the €9 ticket say that the scheme will leave gaping holes in transport budgets and could ultimately lead to ticket prices going up in autumn.

On the other hand, proponents of the offer believe that it could have the effect of luring people back to public transport after the Covid crisis. That would mean that more people would be buying subscriptions after summer and using local buses and trains, which can only be a good thing for transport budgets in the long-run. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 transport ticket

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