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'Simple is better': German states unite over €49 ticket offer

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
'Simple is better': German states unite over €49 ticket offer
An S-Bahn train waits to depart at Berlin Alexanderplatz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

German state and federal transport ministers have finalised plans for a successor to the popular €9 ticket deal.

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At €49 per month, the new ticket is set to cost significantly more than the €9 summer offer, but the ticket will once again be valid on local and regional transport all over Germany.

At a press conference in Bremerhaven, Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) revealed that the €49 offer would be sold as a paperless ticket and would only be available as part of a monthly subscription.

"It's important that it's a paperless, modern ticket," he said, adding that people who only needed the transport deal for a month could cancel their subscription at any time. If not, the subscription for the ticket would automatically renew. 

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Referring to the fact that ticket can be used across state borders, Wissing described the new offer as a "massive deconstruction of hurdles" in the current tariff system. 

"The new ticket will be just as uncomplicated, just as simple, as the €9 ticket," he added. "Simple is better." 

The agreement was reached after two days of intensive debates between the federal and state transport ministers, with the states arguing for increased funding from the federal government to cover the expansion of the transport network and soaring energy costs.

So far, the government has pledged to increase transport funding by €1.5 billion per year to help cover the costs of the new ticket, on the condition that states also pledge to increase funding by the same amount.

However, states run by the opposition CDU and CSU parties in particular have called for additional regionalisation funds to support the roll-out of public transport in rural areas. 

READ ALSO: German transport ministers thrash out plans for €9 ticket successor

Speaking at the press conference, Brandenburg transport minister Guido Beermann (CDU) said it would "make little sense" to introduce a cheap ticket without ensuring that transport connections were available.

"Where there is no bus, no train, no cheap ticket will help us," Beermann had previously said. "This is especially true for rural areas, of course." 

Since the start of Ukraine war, German states have also been seeing an ever-larger black hole in their transport budgets due to rising energy costs, Beermann explained. 

'Ball in their court'

Striking a more conciliatory tone, Bremen's transport minister Maike Schaefer, who chaired the transport ministers' conference, said discussions between the state officials had been "constructive". 

"We're all very close together on this issue," she said, adding that ministers had worked together across party lines to come up with a recommendation for the next affordable transport deal.

With the details of the €49 ticket fleshed out, the states are now waiting for the remaining funding issues to be clarified at the next State Premiers' Conference (MPK). 

The last MPK took place without Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), who was recovering from Covid at the time, which prevented state leaders from discussing their budgets.

"There's an understanding that the states are prepared to contribute to the core financing (of the ticket), but we need a signal from the MPK that the regionalisation funds are coming," Schaefer said. 

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

Volker Wissing and Maike Schaefer

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) and Bremen Transport Minister Maike Schaefer (Greens) arrive at a press conference in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

"The ball is in the MPK's court - only they can sink this penalty," she added.

The government has set a target of introducing the new ticket by January 1st, 2023.

Wissing said that the government would check the feasibility of rolling out the ticket by that deadline and try to solve the remaining funding issues. 

However, he described the outcome of the transport ministers' conference as a "massive step forward". 

"Above all, I'm thrilled for the people who have been waiting for a successor to the €9 ticket," he added. 

The success of the new offer will be reviewed after two years to see if improvements can be made. 

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