Many people in Germany had hoped the €9 monthly transport offer would be extended – or a new ticket introduced – from September 2022 onwards.
But Transport Minister Volker Wissing, of the Free Democrats (FDP), said a possible new ticket could only be introduced after an evaluation of the three-month experiment had been analysed.
He said data would likely be available at the beginning of November. That would mean a possible new offer would only be introduced at the end of the year or the beginning of 2023 at the earliest.
Wissing said authorities would look at how the €9 ticket has impacted people’s lives.
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“There is a lot of speculation, but we don’t really know,” said Wissing. “That’s why we need the results of the evaluation.”
People in Germany – including tourists – have been able to use public transport throughout the country for just €9 per month this summer. The offer started in June and runs until the end of August. It was introduced to relieve people of high energy bills as the cost of living spirals upwards. Long-distance transport is not included in the offer.
Proposals for a new ticket include a €365 annual ticket and a €69 monthly ticket as well as a €29 ticket.
Wissing said one major issue is how a reduced-cost ticket would be paid for.
The €9 ticket is financed by the federal government to the tune of about €2.5 billion. “We need a model that fits into the budgets of the states and also the federal budget,” Wissing said.
If there is an agreement between the government and the states, however, things could move quickly.
“After all, we have seen that we were able to put a proposal on the table within a few weeks and offer a digital ticket,” he said. “In this respect, I am optimistic that it can also happen quickly this time.”
Wissing said the €9 ticket was a “huge success” already.
“We have triggered something with it that was very important for public transport, namely a modernisation push,” he said. “As a result, public transport has become a bit more digital, it has become simpler, and it has become more passenger-oriented – and that within a few weeks.
“We have sold 21 million tickets in addition to the 10 million subscribers. Public transport hasn’t seen that in a long time.”
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Among these 31 million users are people going on day trips as well as commuters. Less than 0.1 per cent of the trains were so busy that security staff had to intervene. Meanwhile, passenger numbers have risen to pre-pandemic levels.
The important thing, Wissing said, is that the price and the service offered has to be right.
“It is not as if the lowest price always brings about the greatest satisfaction,” he said. “If the service behind it is not right, then it is of no use to anyone to be able to travel for one euro,” said Wissing regarding the proposed €365 annual ticket.
Wissing also wants to make tariffs on public transport across the country clearer.
“We have many stations where there are several ticket machines that no one really understands,” he said.
Environmentalists call for ticket to replace €9 offer
Meanwhile, the environmental organisation Greenpeace said it is in favour of a successor ticket.
According to Greenpeace, a permanent low-cost public transport offer would provide solutions to two urgent problems: it would noticeably relieve the burden on households hit by the energy crisis and it would advance climate protection in transport, said Greenpeace transport expert Marissa Reiserer.
According to Greenpeace surveys, the modal shift through such a ticket could reduce CO2 emissions by two to six million tonnes per year. And depending on the cost of the ticket, households could save several hundred euros a month. To finance this, Greenpeace proposes eliminating subsidies it sees as climate-damaging, such as the commuter allowance.