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Transport For Members

Who benefits the most (and least) from Germany's new €49 ticket?

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
Who benefits the most (and least) from Germany's new €49 ticket?
A regional train in Coburg, Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Nicolas Armer

The pre-sale for Germany's new €49 ticket kicked off on Monday - and while some people clearly benefit from the deal, for others it's not so clear-cut. If you're wondering whether to switch, here's what you need to know.

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Unlike the odd long-distance train, Germany's new Deutschlandticket looks set to arrive punctually. On Friday, the Bundesrat waved through the financing for the ticket, just in time for the pre-sale to begin on April 3rd ahead of the launch in May.

As a successor to the immensely popular €9 ticket, which ran for three months last summer, the €49 ticket has been pitched as an affordable and simple way to travel the country. But if you're already on a subscription of some kind - or generally travel by car - does it really make sense to get it? 

To borrow a German phrase, the short answer is "jein" (yes and no). For some people it's a no-brainer, but others may need to think a little bit about their needs and consider whether the plain old regional ticket makes more sense. 

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Firstly, it's worth recapping some of the benefits - and rules - attached to the Deutschlandticket. Then we'll look at whether it could be a good option for your life situation.

What to know about the Deutschlandticket

The new €49 Deutschlandticket is set up in a very similar way to the €9 ticket from last summer - but there are some key differences. Just like the €9 ticket, the €49 ticket lets you travel anywhere in the country on local or regional trains, trams, ferries and buses. However, the ticket isn't valid on long-distance ICE, IC and EC trains, or on the ferries that go to the North Sea Islands in Schleswig-Holstein. 

You can purchase the ticket online via your local transport company or (from April 3rd) at Deutsche Bahn ticket offices or via the Deutsche Bahn website or app. The ticket is primarily availability digitally on your mobile phone or as a chip card. 

Unlike the €9 ticket, this monthly travel deal is only available as an Abo (subscription), which you can set up on a rolling monthly basis. This will be done on the basis of calendar months rather than a four-week or 30-day period, so if you purchase an Abo halfway through the month, you'll be paying full price for half the time. 

In most states, you won't be able to use it to take your bike with you or any other guests and some states may also have issues with you travelling with your dog using the €49 ticket. However, children under six can travel with you for free. 

The ticket will also have your details on it so it can't be shared between more than one person. 

READ ALSO: €49 ticket goes on sale across Germany: What you need to know

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Families

If you tend to take the train with your brood in-tow, it may also be tricky to decide whether switching to the Deutschlandticket is the right move. That's because - aside from children under six who travel free anyway - you'll probably need to buy additional tickets for each of your kids, and your partner will need to get one too.

That's in contrast to many local transport tickets, which often give you special rights to take extra passengers with you at the weekend or in the evening. For example, people who purchase Berlin's Umweltkarte get to take up to three children (aged 6-14) and one adult with them between 8pm and 3am on weekdays, and for the entire day at weekends and on public holidays. 

Berlin's S-Bahn in summer.
Berlin's S-Bahn in summer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

The standard Umweltkarte generally costs €64.50 per month on a yearly subscription - so a good €15.50 more than the Deutschlandticket - but for people who generally use local transport with their families at certain times, it may still be the better deal. There are also indications that a continuation of Berlin's regional €29 ticket could be on the cards, which could be a clear winner over the €49 ticket for families. 

READ ALSO: State by state: Who will get a discount on Germany's €49 transport ticket?

Students

If you're studying at a German university, chances are you have a Semesterticket that you pay for alongside any admin or tuition fees each semester. This is usually around €200 per semester, which works out at around €35 per month, and often has certain benefits like taking a bike with you for free.

Students have been calling for a discounted version of the €49 ticket because - according to the national Student Union - the current price tag would stretch their budgets. But so far, nothing firm has been decided on this front.

Instead, the last conference of German transport ministers pitched a plan to let students "upgrade" their Semestertickets by paying the difference between their student ticket and the €49 ticket. This would allow them to travel throughout the whole of German rather than simply their local state or city. 

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When (and if) this comes into force, it could be a good option for many students who want the Deutschlandticket but don't want to pay twice. Nevertheless, there are some questions students need to ask themselves before they shell out the extra cash.

The first is whether a Germany-wide ticket is really needed most of the time - or whether the state - or city-wide Semesterticket generally fits their usage. If the latter is the case, it may be better to simply buy an extra €49 ticket on one busy travel month over summer, for example. 

There are also numerous questions that haven't been clarified yet. The key one is whether the "upgraded" Deutschlandticket would still have the same benefits students enjoy on the Semesterticket, like taking a bike along for free.

Another consideration: several states - including North-Rhine Westphalia and Bavaria - are working on their own special subsidies for students at present, so it may be worth holding off on buying a ticket until the full details become clear. 

Commuters 

For commuters who regularly travel by train or bus to work, the Deutschlandticket could make a lot of sense. That's especially true for people who live a bit further outside of the city and have to purchase a much pricier monthly ticket in order to get to work.

If you work around 20 days in each calendar month, using the Deutschlandticket works out at just over €2 a day for your commute - and you also get to use it for trips around the country at the weekends. This is much cheaper than, for example, a monthly ticket for the Frankfurt metropolitan area, which will set you back almost €100 if you pay for it on a rolling monthly basis.

An S-Bahn train in Cologne.

An S-Bahn train in Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

The other thing commuters should know is that there are discounts available in the form of a 'Jobticket'. This is when employers strike a deal with the local transport companies to offer monthly travel cards at (at least) a 25 percent discount. If your employer doesn't already do this, you may want to consider pushing for it along with other staff members. If you succeed, you may be able to snap up a Deutschlandticket for the bargain price of €34.50. 

READ ALSO: Which workers will get a discount on Germany’s €49 ticket?

Cyclists 

If you're a keen cyclist, you may find that you tend to use public transport in a very specific way. Perhaps you'll cycle to the S-Bahn and take your bike into town, and then use it to get around - or you'll cycle to meet your friends for a night out and take your bike back on the U-Bahn after you've had a few beers.

If that sounds like you, you may need to think whether switching from your current Abo makes sense, since the Deutschlandticket doesn't allow you to take a bike with you free of charge.

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As with the students' Semesterticket, it looks like there are going to be different solutions to this issue offered by different regions and transport companies. In North-Rhine Westphalia, for instance, cyclists have the choice between a €39 add-on in the whole of Germany or a €29 add-on exclusively in the Rhine-Ruhr area. In Berlin you can buy a regional bike ticket for just €12 per month.

To decide what's right for you, think about when, where and how often you're likely to use your bike. If you generally use it to help get around the city but won't be taking it on holiday with you, then the Deutschlandticket and a monthly local bike ticket may be the way to go. 

READ ALSO: Germany's most popular state plans discounted 49 ticket

Jobseekers 

If you're receiving benefits or income support from the state, you may also have some questions about whether to shell out the extra money for a Germany-wide ticket.

In most cases, a discounted "Sozialticket" for local travel will set you back around €30 a month, which is significantly less than the €49 ticket - and will often come with perks like being able to take your family with you. That said, some states are considering introducing their own discounts on the Deutschlandticket for jobseekers, so you may be able to upgrade to a nationwide ticket without shelling out too much.

In the state of Hesse, for example, unemployed people can get the Deutschlandticket for just €31 a month. 

A ticket machine at a Deutsche Bahn station

A ticket machine at a Deutsche Bahn station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Martin Schutt

Drivers

When the government was planning the €49 ticket, one of the main stated goals was to encourage people to make the switch from car to public transport. But will the low price and flexibility be enough to encourage people to do so?

There are few things to think about if you're considering it. Cost-wise, the €49 ticket works out much cheaper than the average monthly spend on petrol, which is around €130 in Germany. Add the cost of purchasing and maintaining a car to this and the more affordable option is obvious.

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However, mobility isn't all about cost - it's also about convenience. So if you have a good transport network near you, it may be time to consider using your car much less and opting for the Deutschlandticket instead, but if you're in a more remote area, the car may still be the only reasonable option.

Are you planning on switching to the €49 ticket? If not, why not? We'd love to hear your thoughts, so please do get in touch

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