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Can German ministers agree on funding for a €9 ticket follow-up?

Germany's state and federal transport ministers are thrashing out plans for the successor to the €9 ticket. But concerns about funding public transport amid the energy crisis are still a big sticking point.

Travellers use a regional train in Hanover.
Travellers use a regional train in Hanover. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Moritz Frankenberg

The €9 ticket, which was in place in June, July and August, brought public transport in Germany to the top of the agenda. 

It meant that people were able to ride buses, trams, the U-Bahn – and even regional trains – across German local transport networks at a heavily reduced price.

Due to the success, the federal government has pledged to make €1.5 billion available for a follow-up to the €9 ticket.

The ticket is set to be introduced by January 2023 and will rely on Germany’s 16 states matching or exceeding the federal government’s cash injection.

READ ALSO: What we know so far about the successor to Germany’s €9 ticket

So far, the proposals are for a monthly ticket that would be valid on public transport nationally, with the price somewhere between €49 and €69.

However, politicians and associations are pointing out that public transport in Germany has been underfunded for some time, and that will get worse due to the energy crisis. 

The biggest problem is that “in view of the massive increase in energy costs, the funds are not sufficient to finance existing local public transport,” said Reinhard Sager, president of the German Association of Districts (DLT).

Prices for construction services, staff and energy costs have risen “dramatically,” he said. “Therefore, under no circumstances should we risk liquidity bottlenecks or even operational closures at transport companies,” said Sagar. He warned that without proper financing there could be “cancellations” across services and said, “more money in the system” is necessary.

The current discussion has been going in the wrong direction for weeks, Sager said. “The experience with the €9 ticket shows that expanding the offer is more important than a very cheap ticket,” he added.

€9 ticket Munich

A woman in Munich purchases a €9 ticket from a ticket machine. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lennart Preiss

However, there does appear to be strong support for a new ticket – as long as it includes a plan for general funding for public transport.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s transport minister Oliver Krischer (Greens) has called for a quick agreement on the €9 successor model, and an overall strong financing plan for local public transport. “The €9 ticket was a successful model. What is clear is that a new ticket must continue to be cheap and simple,” he told RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

“I now perceive a high level of willingness among the states to quickly hold concrete talks on a follow-up arrangement and bring them to a conclusion,” the Green politician stressed. “Nevertheless, we need overall financing that also includes the expansion of public transport.”

Krischer said he feared a reduction in the range of services on offer because of the high costs of the transport associations.

“The best ticket is only worth half as much if the federal states and local authorities have to significantly reduce the range of services on offer because of the enormous cost increases,” he said. “But that’s exactly what could happen if the federal transport minister doesn’t keep his financial commitments.”

The German Association of Towns and Municipalities urged a quick agreement from the federal and state governments.

“The federal government’s proposals are on the table, now it’s the states’ turn,” chief executive Gerd Landsberg told RND. “In the course of the new regulation, the price of the ticket is not the most important thing, but ensuring the efficiency of local transport.”

Landsberg also warned of rising energy costs, which already posed major financial challenges for transport operators.

“However, we must not only absorb these costs, but also ensure that the expansion of local public transport makes progress and that the frequency is improved,” he urged. “Only an attractive public transport offer will inspire people to use public transport, even after the €9 ticket.”

Transport ministers will be debating the ticket via video link on Monday. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has held out the prospect of implementing a successor model at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, the state of Berlin has already moved ahead and announced a €29 city ticket for the months of October, November and December.

READ ALSO: What we know so far about Berlin’s €9 ticket follow-up 

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EXPLAINED: How will Berlin’s new €29 transport ticket work?

Germany’s capital launched its follow-up to the €9 ticket on Tuesday, but the ticket will only be valid for those with subscriptions. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will Berlin’s new €29 transport ticket work?

Tickets for the new €29 Berlin city ticket went on sale on Tuesday and eager passengers will be wondering how they can get their hands on the discount offer. However, unlike the nationwide €9 ticket, Berlin’s travel deal will only be valid in the AB fare zone of Berlin and for customers with a yearly subscription.

Why has Berlin brought in the ticket?

The Berlin state government and transport companies in Berlin developed the ticket to set an example for climate protection and make public transportation more attractive for Berliners. The state of Berlin is financing the offer which will bridge the gap between the end of the €9 ticket offer and a nationwide successor which should arrive in January.

READ ALSO: Berlin gets green light to launch €29 transport ticket

Where and when will the ticket be valid?

The €29 ticket will be valid on all buses, trams, U-bahns and S-bahns within the AB fare zone in the city of Berlin. Those wanting to travel into the C zone will need to buy an extension ticket.

Who is the ticket for?

Some people might be disappointed to find out that the ticket will only be available as part of a yearly subscription. All other tickets will retain their usual prices.

That means that people won’t be able to buy a monthly ticket for €29 unless it’s part of a yearly package, so certain groups of people, such as tourists, may not benefit from the offer.

From October 1st to December 31st, 2022, the monthly price for the following subscriptions in the Berlin AB fare zone will be reduced to €29:

–   VBB-Umweltkarten subscriptions with monthly and annual payments

–   10 o’clock ticket subscriptions with monthly and annual payments

–   VBB company tickets with monthly and yearly payments

–   Education monthly subscription ticket with monthly payments

The offer will not apply to ABC semester tickets. 

How will payment for the ticket work?

According to information from BVG, subscribers who pay monthly will automatically be charged the lower amount, while compensation for those who pay annually is expected to arrive at the end of the promotional period.

Can I get a yearly subscription starting from October and still benefit?

Yes. If you sign up for a yearly subscription on the BVG or VBB website, starting from October, you will be charged the lower price for the first three months of the subscription. If you start in November or December, you will pay the lower price for just those months. 

What happens once the promotion is over?

For those who don’t cancel their subscription by December 31st, their subscription contract will run for a total of 12 months. However, passengers can also switch to another VBB fare product, to another fare zone or to the successor product to the €9 ticket, which is expected to be valid throughout Germany from January 1st.

READ ALSO: Germany to set out plans for €49 transport ticket in October

When can the subscription be cancelled?

It seems that people will be able to cancel their yearly subscriptions. The BVG website says: “If we were not able to convince you of our performance and you decide not to continue the subscription beyond the promotional period, you can cancel your subscription at any time at the end of the month without any disadvantages.”

Vocabulary

Subscription – (das) Abonnement

Extension ticket – (der) Anschlussfahrausweis

Yearly – jährlich

Monthly – monatlich

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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