According to reports in regional newspaper Tagesspiegel, the transport administration has pitched a three-month €0 ticket for customers that would run alongside the €9 ticket with the aim of pulling in new long-term customers.
In a letter obtained by Tagesschau and regional broadcaster RBB, the transport administration department told parliament that the free ticket would be exclusively available for new and existing season-ticket and subscription holders.
“It is currently being discussed in Berlin to lower the prices for season tickets to €0 in the campaign months as an alternative to the €9 monthly ticket,” they wrote.
This could win over new customers and encourage them to start rolling subscriptions, they argued.
The free ticket would run from the start of June until the end of August – just like the national €9 ticket – though it’s unclear if it would only be usable for local public transport in Berlin or if, like its €9 counterpart, regional and local routes nationwide would also be included in the offer.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, Berlin and Brandenburg’s transport operators have lost a number of their original customers. Some have switched to cars or bicycles while others are simply travelling less due to continued home office or less post-pandemic socialising.
Fewer subscriptions – known as Abos – have been sold by S-Bahn and BVG this year. The operators are concerned that this could lead to significant revenue losses over time.
By dangling the carrot of free transport, the Senate is hoping that it can encourage some of these customers to return over summer and start paying for subscriptions when autumn rolls around.
However, the transport administration has pointed out that talks with the federal government, other federal states, transport associations and the companies involved have not yet been concluded.
“There are different models and therefore many parties to be involved,” transport administration spokesman Jan Thomsen told RBB. “A decision is still open.”
According to the Senate’s estimates, the €0 scheme would cost Berlin around €22 million.