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What tourists visiting Germany need to know about reduced-price public transport

Public transport in Germany is about to get a lot cheaper with the introduction of the €9 ticket this summer. We looked at whether you have to be a resident in Germany to get it.

Passers-by and tourists walk across Römerberg in Frankfurt.
Passers-by and tourists walk across the Römerberg in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

What’s all this about cheaper transport?

You may have read on The Local (yes, we’ve been writing about it a lot!), that Germany is bringing in a reduced price travel ticket. For the months of June, July and August, people will be able to purchase a €9 monthly ticket which they can use on public transport all over the country. 

The ticket is valid on buses, trains, U-Bahn services, trams and regional trains. People will be able to use it in all local networks – whether it’s Hamburg, Bavaria, Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia or anywhere else.

It’s not valid on long-distance transport – that includes ICE and IC trains, as well as Flixbus and Flixtrain services. So you need a separate ticket for these services. 

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

Is it available to tourists?

Definitely. Anyone in Germany can buy it. That includes tourists or anyone else visiting the country, as well as residents who live in Germany. 

How can I get it?

It’s not available quite yet, but you should be able to get your hands on it in the second half of May. All going well, it is set to be approved by the German parliament and states on May 19th and 20th (although they are bickering about the funding of it right now). 

Local transport providers are already updating their ticket machines. 

How does it work?

The ticket is being implemented by local transport organisations across the country so there are slight differences depending on where you get it. But the general idea is that people will be able to buy it at ticket machines, customer service centres and even via the transport provider’s app. 

The ticket will cost €9 per calendar month, or €27 in total if you buy three separate tickets. It will always be valid from the 1st of the month. So even if you buy the ticket on June 14th it will still cost €9 and it will only last until the end of that month (not into the next month). 

You can’t buy a three month version of the ticket – you’ll have to buy a separate ticket each month. 

The ticket will have your first and last name on it, so you can’t give the ticket to someone else. 

Two women take a photo in central Frankfurt. Tourists and residents can use the €9 travel ticket this summer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Can I bring children with me?

Usually, local transport providers allow children under the age of six to travel for free with an adult who has a ticket. But check the terms and conditions of the area you are in. 

Can I bring a bike with me?

No. You’ll need to buy a special ticket to bring your bike on board. You can bring luggage on board without an extra ticket. 

Is it worth tourists buying the €9 ticket?

If you plan to take public transport in Germany, it’s definitely worth getting it. A single day ticket in Munich for example costs €8.20 normally (and even more depending on the zone). In Berlin, a single day ticket costs €8.80. 

Are there any downsides?

Expect services to be busy during these three months as more people turn to local transport. Rail operators have also urged people to watch out for building work on the lines. Since most people normally travel in summer, the warmer months are used to upgrade service and lines. 

READ ALSO: What is Sylt and why is it terrified of the €9 holidaymakers?

Why is the ticket being brought in?

It’s part of the German government’s energy relief measures, which include a €300 payout to German taxpayers and a fuel tax cut. The aim of the transport ticket is also to encourage people to leave their cars at home which protects the climate. If successful, it may lead to price reductions of local transport in future. 

Are there still Covid measures in Germany?

Yes – on public and long-distance transport, people in Germany still have to wear a face mask. You also have to isolate for at least five days (or a maximum of 10 days) if you get a positive Covid test, and there are still restrictions on entering the country

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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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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