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EXPLAINED: How to get hold of the €9 travel ticket in Berlin

Local transport providers are getting ready to introduce the €9 monthly ticket for summer. Here's how it will work in Berlin and Brandenburg.

People talking a regional train from Berlin's Hauptbahnhof.
People talking a regional train from Berlin's Hauptbahnhof. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Monika Skolimowska

More details are emerging on how Germany’s heavily reduced monthly transport ticket will work in practice. 

The ticket will be valid for three months – June, July and August – and will cost €9 per calendar month or €27 in total. People can use it on any local or regional buses, trains or trams. It will not be valid for long distance buses or trains, such as on ICE, IC and EC services.

Trips to Poland or France, for example, are not included in the tariff, and either are journeys on the Flixbus and Flixtrain.

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

One thing to keep in mind is that local transport providers can implement the offer in their own way so there will be slight difference depending on where you are based. 

On Friday, the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (VBB) published extensive information about what season ticket holders and new customers should consider when it comes to the special offer. 

Here’s a look at what you should know if you’re in the capital or the surrounding area, or you’re visiting this part of Germany in the summer. 

What do I have to do if I have a subscription (Abo) ticket?

As is the case throughout Germany, seasonal public transport ticket holders will benefit from the offer.

The VBB says that that most people affected in the Berlin/Brandenburg area will not need to do anything. “The reduction of the fare to €9 for the months of June, July and August 2022 and the associated reimbursement or settlement will be made automatically by the respective transport company holding the contract,” the VBB says.

Those who pay their subscription monthly will automatically be charged only €9, while customers who pay annually will receive reimbursement.

Holders of annual tickets sold in cash can also benefit from the campaign and should check out online information on how to get the difference refunded. 

“As a season ticket holder, you don’t have to worry about anything, the billing/refund or credit is done automatically by the transport company where the season ticket was purchased,” a VBB spokesman told The Local.

“If you have a monthly travel pass, you should not throw away the sections of the months, but submit them to the transport company afterwards and you will be reimbursed.”

The ticket can be used throughout local public transports in Germany. Does that mean I can use my Abo anywhere?

Yes. For the three months, you can use your subscription ticket to travel on local public transport throughout Germany. That means on regional trains, as well as local transit in the various cities and towns around Germany – but not on long-distance transport.

“All over Germany means all over Germany, right!” the VBB spokesman told us. “Season ticket holders have the ‘FahrCard’, which is recognised nationwide when presented.”

You can also use the card at any time of day in the Berlin/Brandenburg area or Germany-wide on local transport even if your Abo has a time limit (such as the 10am ticket which is only valid after 10am).

People wait for a train on Berlin's U5 line.

People wait for a train on Berlin’s U5 line. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

What happens if I want to take my bike on board?

It’s a good question. Germans love getting out to explore ‘the nature’ and may want to use the ticket to travel to the countryside on a regional train and often bring their bike with them. 

But dogs and bicycles are not allowed to be taken along free of charge on the ticket. People are also not allowed to take people with them, the only exception being children under the age of six. A pram and luggage can be taken along at no extra cost.

If you want to take your bicycle with you, you need a ticket for it. You’ll need to find out about the implementation in the respective transport association for nationwide journeys on local transport. The same applies for taking dogs.

However, the VBB has actually urged all passengers to refrain from taking bikes with them during the campaign period and recommends travelling outside of rush hours. Rail bosses are expecting travel to be super busy. 

As a general rule of thumb: within the VBB area, season ticket holders keep their fare conditions, whereas outside – in other public transport regions – the €9 ticket is seen as a 2nd class ticket without extensions (so you don’t get the perks you have in your local ticket). 

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

Can I return a VBB monthly ticket I have already bought for one of the campaign months?

According to the VBB, tickets with a printed validity date (such as monthly tickets) can be returned to the respective ticket office before the first day of validity. In the case of sliding monthly tickets, however, no partial refund is possible – so a customer could not, for example, have their monthly ticket, which starts in mid-May and ends in mid-June, refunded proportionately for June and use the €9 from June 1st instead.

NON-SUBSCRIBERS

How can I buy the ticket if I don’t have a subscription?

The €9 ticket can be purchased as a single monthly ticket in the relevant period (June, July, August), in customer centres, at ticket machines or via an app. You can also buy the ticket directly from the driver on some buses – but not on BVG buses.

There will be no separate three-month subscription for the entire period. And in contrast to other monthly tickets, the offer cannot be purchased over monthly limits – it is always valid from the “1st” of the respective month until the end of the month. So if you get the ticket on June 16th, it will still cost €9 and remain valid until June 30th. 

Are there any other conditions I need to know?

Yes. The only person who can use €9 the ticket is the person whose first and last name is on the ticket. So you technically can’t give the ticket to someone else to use. 

“All those who purchase the ticket in paper form must note that it is only valid when the first and last name of the person travelling is entered on it,” says the VBB.

When can I buy it?

It is not yet 100 percent clear when the ticket will be available. The VBB says people will be able to buy it “from the second half of May” – but theoretically, advance sales would only be possible from May 20th anyway because that is the day the Bundesrat is due to formally approve the €9 ticket (let’s hope the states and government sort out their funding row by then). 

Will there be more trains in operation?

That is not yet clear, but it doesn’t look like it. In fact, there could be some other obstacles that make transport busier. The VBB says that the campaign period falls during the summer holidays, which are usually used for construction work. This is planned in the long term by the network operator (Deutsche Bahn) and can’t be postponed at short notice. The VBB therefore has urged all users to inform themselves about the route before they travel.

READ ALSO: What is Sylt and why is it terrified of Germany’s €9 holidaymakers?

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TRAVEL NEWS

UPDATE: When will Germany’s €49 ticket start?

Germany announced a €49 monthly ticket for local and regional public transport earlier this month, but the hoped-for launch date of January 2023 looks increasingly unlikely.

UPDATE: When will Germany's €49 ticket start?

Following the popularity of the €9 train ticket over the summer, the German federal and state governments finally agreed on a successor offer at the beginning of November.

The travel card – dubbed the “Deutschlandticket” – will cost €49 and enable people to travel on regional trains, trams and buses up and down the country.

There had been hopes that the discount travel offer would start up in January 2023, but that now seems very unlikely.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s €49 ticket

Martin Burkert, Head of the German Rail and Transport Union (EVG) now expects the €49 ticket to be introduced in the spring.

“From our point of view, it seems realistic to introduce the Deutschlandticket on April 1st, because some implementation issues are still unresolved”, Burkert told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland on Monday. The Association of German Transport Companies, on the other hand, said on Wednesday that they believe the beginning of May will be a more realistic start date.

The federal and state transport ministers have set their sights on an April deadline, but this depends on whether funding and technical issues can be sorted out by then. In short, the only thing that seems clear regarding the start date is that it will be launched at some point in 2023. 

Why the delay?

Financing for the ticket continues to cause disagreements between the federal and state governments and, from the point of view of the transport companies, financing issues are also still open.

The federal government has agreed to stump up €1.5 billion for the new ticket, which the states will match out of their own budgets. That brings the total funding for the offer up to €3 billion. 

But according to Bremen’s transport minister Maike Schaefer, the actual cost of the ticket is likely to be closer to €4.7 billion – especially during the initial implementation phase – leaving a €1.7 billion hole in finances.

Transport companies are concerned that it will fall to them to take the financial hit if the government doesn’t provide enough funding. They say this will be impossible for them to shoulder. 

Burkert from EVG is calling on the federal government to provide more than the €1.5 billion originally earmarked for the ticket if necessary.

“Six months after the launch of the Deutschlandticket at the latest, the federal government must evaluate the costs incurred to date with the states and, if necessary, provide additional funding,” he said. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why Germany’s €49 travel ticket is far better than the previous €9 ticket

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn has warned that the network is not prepared to cope with extra demand. 

Berthold Huber, the member of the Deutsche Bahn Board of Management responsible for infrastructure, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that a big part of the problem is the network is “structurally outdated” and its “susceptibility to faults is increasing.” 

Accordingly, Huber said that there is currently “no room for additional trains in regional traffic around the major hub stations” and, while adding more seats on trains could be a short terms solution, “here, too, you run up against limits,” Huber said.

So, what now? 

Well, it seems that the federal states are happy to pay half of whatever the ticket actually costs – but so far, the federal government has been slow to make the same offer.

With the two crucial ministries – the Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry – headed up by politicians from the liberal FDP, environment groups are accusing the party of blocking the ticket by proxy. 

According to Jürgen Resch, the director of German Environment Aid, Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Transport Minister Volker Wissing are deliberately withholding the necessary financial support for the states.

Wissing has also come under fire from the opposition CDU/CSU parties after failing to turn up to a transport committee meeting on Wednesday. 

The conservatives had narrowly failed in a motion to summon the minister to the meeting and demand a report on the progress of the €49 ticket.

“The members of the Bundestag have many unanswered questions and time is pressing,” said CDU transport politician Thomas Bareiß, adding that the ticket had falling victim to a “false start”. 

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