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Cars and TransportationGermany

Deutsche Bahn hails 9-euro public transport ticket

August 28, 2022

Over the summer, the ultra-cheap ticket gave Germans access to train, metro and bus services nationwide. Rail operator Deutsche Bahn said it sold 26 million tickets, but the final tally is likely to be much higher.

German rail users wait on a platform as a regional train arrives
The €9 public transport ticket has been hugely popular, but runs out next weekImage: Stefan Sauer/picture alliance/dpa

Germany's national rail operator Deutsche Bahn on Sunday said it had sold 26 million tickets under the government's low-cost public transport scheme, introduced to offset a huge rise in the cost of living.

During June, July and August, German residents could travel on train, U-bahn (Metro) and bus services nationwide for a monthly fee of just €9 ($9) — although high-speed rail services were excluded.

The cheap ticket program, which cost more than €2.5 billion, runs out next week.

Germans leave cars at home

"One in five €9 ticket users has rediscovered public transport," Evelyn Palla, Deutsche Bahn's new regional transport director said, referring to roughly 20% of tickets sold to people who don't normally use trains, buses and metros.

She said more passengers used regional public transport over the summer than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exact number of €9 euro tickets sold will be revealed by the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) next week, with the final tally expected to be much higher.

Earlier this month, the association said some 38 million tickets were sold in the first two months, on top of the roughly 10 million passengers who already held season tickets.

Car use reduced

Transport industry analysts say the scheme encouraged people to make journeys they would not normally be able to afford and helped reduce car use in some areas by about 3%.

The ticket also offered a huge discount for daily commuters at a time when food, fuel and energy prices have soared. For example, Berlin's monthly public transport ticket normally costs €86.

Is Germany's €9-ticket a gimmick or a role model?

Successor planned but at what cost?

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz last week labeled the scheme a "big success" and announced plans for a successor.

But with an estimated annual cost of €14 billion, Finance Minister Christian Lindner warned that it would take away from state investment in other areas, like education and infrastructure.

Instead, Lindner said, people would welcome simplified transport tariff structures.

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is also in favor of a successor to the low-cost ticket.

On Sunday, its president Dirk Messner said while €9 would be unaffordable to the state in the long term, a Germany-wide ticket costing between €49 and €69 could be financed by reducing subsidies for car users.

"People switch if it's easy, if it's cheap and if it can be used flexibly," Messner told DPA news agency.

The head of Scholz's center-left Social Democrats (SPD) Lars Klingbeil has mooted the idea of paying for the cheap tickets with a windfall tax on energy firms.

mm/kb (AP, DPA, Reuters)

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