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Berlin's BVG nets over a million subscribers 'thanks to €29 transport ticket'

The Local Germany
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Berlin's BVG nets over a million subscribers 'thanks to €29 transport ticket'
A U-Bahn train arrives at the Museumsinsel station in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Berlin’s transport company BVG gained tens of thousands of new subscribers last year, mainly due to the discounted €29 ticket, according to newly published figures.

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The €29 ticket, which allowed users to travel anywhere in Berlin’s AB zone for just €29, ran from October 1st until April 30th, after which it was replaced by the nationwide €49 ticket. 

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

BVG also received a boost in subscribers of the environmental card (Umweltkarte) and job ticket (Firmenkarte), which nearly doubled to around 174,000 new customers, according to the annual report for 2022 published by the state-owned transport company. 

Overall, the total number of ticket holders rose to more than 1.06 million.

"This strong increase is due to the time-limited €29 ticket subscription campaign launched in the fourth quarter," BVG said in a statement. 

The total figure also includes around 372,000 free subscriptions for schoolchildren and the ticket for state employees, as well as tickets for trainees, senior citizens and ‘10-Uhr-Karten’, which allow users to travel unlimited within the AB zone, between 10 am and 3 pm.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of people ditched their Abos, or subscriptions, for public transport. While the number of passengers slowly crept higher in the first part of the year, it would most likely have taken a long time for the numbers to reach pre-crisis level again without the special offers, the company said.

The number of regular customers is an important parameter for BVG. Last year, monthly and annual ticket holders accounted for more than 45 percent of their fare revenue. 

However, total revenue dipped to about five percent less than the previous year, which is mainly due to the discounted subscription offers, which included a €9 'social ticket' said BVG.

Passengers use Berlin's U-Bahn network.

Passengers use Berlin's U-Bahn network.  Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

Will the €29 ticket return?

It remains unclear how the €49 ticket subscription - which allows holders to travel nationally on all regional transport - will affect the other BVG subscription models, according to the BVG.

The BVG wants to keep other offers for the capital, such as the Umweltkarte. While these tickets cost significantly more, but can also be transferred to other users and allow someone to ride along with the holders at nights and on the weekend.

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

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"Of course, among those who have switched to the Deutschlandticket are also many previous subscribers to the Umweltkarte," BVG said in response to an inquiry from the Berliner Morgenpost.

BVG has not yet announced plans to bring back the popular €29 ticket. However, the Social Democrats (SPD) - alongside their former coalition partners, the Greens and the Left Party - are pushing to bring back the popular ticket long-term.

So far, BVG alone has sold around 500,000 €49 tickets, 70,000 of which are new customers. All the others had switched from existing tariffs.

In the entire area of the Berlin-Brandenburg Transport Association (VBB), around 600,000 Deutschland tickets have been sold so far, according to a spokesperson. Of these, 90,000 are first-time subscribers.

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