Germany's public transport must become more efficient and digital friendly, says minister

James Jackson
James Jackson - [email protected]
Germany's public transport must become more efficient and digital friendly, says minister
Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), at the launch of the Deutschlandticket in April 2023. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

Germany’s transport minister has demanded that some of the country’s myriad of regional transport associations combine in order to be more efficient and digital-friendly.


"We still have over 60 transport associations, that is too many," Volker Wissing, of the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), told the German regional newspaper, Augsburger Allgemeiner.

"The states should look forward with the federal government to analyse their structures and consider how the public transport network can become more efficient and digital."

Melting these transport associations – which can be small and cover only sparsely populated areas – would save money on administration costs, which could then be used to improve public transport. He pointed out that Germany’s 16 states are responsible for this decision.

Germany’s complicated transport tariff structures were one of the main difficulties in rolling out the initial €9 public transport ticket and its follow-up the €49 monthly pass, also known as the Deutschlandticket.


Forcing all of them to agree to allow people use one tariff was a “revolution” in the way transport was operated in Germany, the minister said. This is not because of its low cost but because the ticket was not based on price structures of regional transport associations.

"The many complicated tariff structures were therefore laid to one side and traveling in tariff zones abolished," he added.

Other states could follow the example of Berlin and Brandenburg, who combined their transport associations in 1996 to form Verkehrsbund Berlin Brandenburg, VBB. This now claims to be one of the largest in Europe covering an area of over 30,000 square kilometres with 949 bus routes, 46 regional trains as well as 16 S-Bahn and 8 U-bahn lines in Berlin and the surrounding area.


Wissing has been criticised for refusing to offer further federal funds for the €49 ticket, with only €3 billion of the €4.9 billion necessary to continue the Deutschlandticket next year secured, with half coming from the federal government and half from Germany’s states. This funding gap could be plugged by increasing the cost of the ticket, something that Wissing hinted at in the interview.

"Of course, the cheaper it is the more comfortable that will be, but price isn’t the only decisive factor for this ticket…. We are currently at a very low price," he said.

Living in Germany: Dropping articles, tapping beer kegs and what will happen to the €49 ticket?


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