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5 things to know about public transport in Germany after the €9 ticket

The €9 monthly public transport ticket has expired. Here are a few things to know about public transport in Germany and what to expect in future.

People wait on a platform at Duisburg station.
People wait on a platform at Duisburg station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roberto Pfeil

1. You won’t be able to travel throughout Germany with one ticket

People in Germany enjoyed a very cheap transport offer this summer. For the months of June, July and August, public transport cost just €9 per month – or €27 for the whole period – for everyone, including tourists (although children under six generally travel for free). 

One of the nicest things about the €9 ticket was that it was available to use on all the different local public transport networks across Germany. 

That means you didn’t have to buy a new ticket when you travelled to another region. The ticket could also be used on regional trains (as well as buses, the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and trams). You could travel long distances – and even into foreign countries in some cases. 

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From September 1st, things get a little more complicated again. You’ll have to buy a ticket in the area you want to travel in. So if you visit Hamburg from Cologne, your monthly card will no longer be valid there (and the €9 ticket will be no more). 

Readers of The Local told us recently that the affordability and simplicity of the €9 offer is what makes it such a draw.

2. Tickets vary in price across Germany

The cost of public transport varies hugely depending on where you are.

According to a study by German Automobile Club ADAC in November 2021 (although prices are mostly the same this year), weekly tickets – at €36 – were most expensive in Berlin, while in Munich they cost just €17.80.

The difference in monthly tickets was similarly striking. In Munich, these can be purchased for as little as €57, while in Hamburg they cost almost twice that amount at €112.80.

A person holds the €9 ticket in front of a regional train in Frankfurt.

A person holds the €9 ticket in front of a regional train in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

Day tickets for adults were most expensive in Berlin, Bonn and Cologne at €8.80 and cost around 60 percent more than in Frankfurt, where the price is about €5.50.

For a single journey adults in Munich paid €3.40, while in Hamburg a single ticket cost €2.40. 

These general prices, which are available on the websites of the local public transport operators across the country or by asking a member of staff at a ticket office, will return from September 1st so be aware of the ticket you need and the zone you are travelling in. 

And remember to validate your ticket before travel if it is required in your area to avoid having an unpleasant experience with a ticket checker. 

3. … But public transport will likely go up in price soon

Transport associations  across Germany have been saying that customers will have to reckon with price increases as they try to expand the infrastructure and deal with the rising costs of energy. 

Passengers wait for a regional train in Stralsund.

Passengers wait for a regional train in Stralsund. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

German press group DPA surveyed operators – and they said they were planning to increase the cost of their tariffs in the near future.

READ ALSO: Will German transport companies hike fares after €9 ticket?

In and around Stuttgart, for instance, fares are set to rise by an average of 4.9 percent at the start of the new year, while in the greater Nuremberg area they will go up by three percent.

In the region covered by the Rhein-Main transport association, which includes Frankfurt and the surrounding area, a 3.9 percent increase was put in place in July.

Several of Germany’s regional transport operators are due to meet in September and October to decide on future tariffs.

The travel association Verkehrs und Tarifverbund Stuttgart explained: “Currently, transport companies are facing major financial problems in view of rocketing energy prices.”

They said that more funding was needed from the government simply to keep public transport running as normal. 

4. There may be another reduced transport offer soon 

The €9 ticket has been an overwhelming success, at least in the eyes of public transport users in Germany. Even when trains were packed and there were reports people had to be turfed off platforms on busy services – nothing could dampen the spirit of the €9 ticket. That’s why #9Euroticketbleibt (€9 ticket stays) has been trending on Twitter. 

But Germany’s coalition government – made up of the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats – have had a lot of discussions on the future of low-cost travel tickets. 

The climate-friendly Greens, and other groups, have been pushing for a follow-up to come into force as soon as possible after the €9 offer ends. 

There have been lots of proposals put forward, including a €29 monthly ticket, a €69 offer – and a €365 annual ticket.

Transport Minister Volker Wissing, of the FDP said he had convinced his colleague, Finance Minister Christian Lindner, who pulls the purse strings, to consider a follow-up ticket after Lindner had initially ruled out.

The sticking point is where the money would come from. The government has ploughed €2.5 billion into the €9 summer offer, but with a difficult winter coming up amid the energy crisis, politicians won’t be keen to offer out more than necessary for public transport. 

READ ALSO: German transport operators float plans for €69 ‘Klimaticket’

5. Germany’s public transport is popular – at least in cities

Regardless of whether there’s a new cheap transport ticket on the way, it’s fair to say that people really use the train, bus and U-Bahn network. 

In 2021, around 7.88 billion passengers were transported on Germany buses and trains alone. Cities are packed with bus stops, train stations and trams. 

But it’s not great for everyone. According to a 2021 study by Deutsche Bahn subsidiary and mobility startup ioki, access to public transport is significantly reduced and often not up to scratch for about 55 million people living in the suburbs or rural areas.

Vocabulary

Public transport – öffentlicher Personennahverkehr (ÖPNV)

Ticket – (die) Fahrkarte

Costs – (die) Kosten

Cheap – billig 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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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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