Skip to main content

All You Can Travel: Germany’s €9 Public Transport Buffet

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

A study conducted on Germany’s €9 monthly transport pass on the first week of its operation reveals some interesting findings.

As part of the German federal government’s efforts to combat cost of living pressures and high fuel prices, lawmakers introduced a heavily discounted nation-wide travel pass for June, July and August this year. The ticket allows for travel on buses, trams, subways, light rail, regional and regional express trains, but excludes the high-speed rail services such as the ICE (Intercity Express), as well as private operators such as FlixTrain.

Now a study has been released by Rogator, a company that specialises in feedback and software, which examines the use of the €9 ticket at the beginning of the validity period. The OpinionTRAIN 2022 study interviewed 3,200 consumers in Germany on 7th June (one week after the €9 ticket scheme had been operating) about their use, awareness of and satisfaction with the program.

Some key results of the study were:

29% of Germans aged 18 and over have the 9-euro ticket

In addition to the high level of awareness of the offer of around 97%, 29% of those surveyed already reported that they own a 9-euro ticket. In addition, the survey found that around a quarter of the owners of the 9-euro ticket are people who did not use public transport at all or only sporadically before June 2022. 66% of ticket holders also stated that the 9-euro ticket is a reason to use public transport more frequently than before.

The focus of use is on local trips near the place of residence

Nine out of ten ticket holders have already used the ticket during the first 7 days of validity. Around two thirds of the uses relate to local journeys near the place of residence, 30% go beyond the borders of the place of residence, but remain under 100 km travel distance. Traveling more than 100km accounts for less than 10%.

Significant shift in journeys from cars to buses and trains

Users were asked what the choice of transport would have looked like without the 9-euro ticket. 47% of the journeys would have otherwise been made by bus and train, and 44% have been switched from other modes of transport – with more than half of them being by car. Less than 10% of the journeys are induced new traffic, i.e. the journeys would not have taken place at all without the 9-euro ticket. With regard to the modal shift from cars, this was more pronounced for the longer distances that extend more than 100 km beyond the place of residence.

Despite occasional overloading of the vehicles, a high level of satisfaction

Every second customer is dissatisfied with the available seat capacity on journeys longer than 100 km. However, this only applies to a sub-segment of usage making up less than 10% of trips travelled with the ticket. Correspondingly, less than 10% of customers were note satisfied with the last journey they took with the ticket. This is opposed to more than 60% of users who classify themselves as completely or very satisfied. 48% of ticket holders said they would accept full buses, trains and train stations when traveling with the 9-euro ticket. 55% of the ticket holders would also use the ticket if the price was higher than EUR 9 (rejection 17%).

“The study results give a first – certainly not final – picture of how the 9-euro ticket works… the survey points to promising changes in the choice of transport through the offer of a low-priced monthly pass. At the same time, the survey approach underlines how quickly reliable data can be provided through online surveys,” summarizes Johannes Hercher, CEO of Rogator AG and co-author of the OpinionTRAIN study.

Personal Comments

by Maria Schnurr (Focus area leader "Urban Mobility" at RISE):

Indications from this early study suggests that the primary objective of the €9 ticket to offer cost of living relief for those who already use public transport is working. When seen against initiatives to reduce fuel tax, which has the same objective but is targeted at motorists, the €9 ticket scheme is significantly more cost effective since it mostly makes use of existing capacity.

Enabling modal shifts from car to public transport is the highest goal that exists in sustainable mobility, and the goal that is most difficult to achieve. Therefore, it is quite impressive that the study reports almost a quarter of trips using the €9 ticket are in fact replacing car trips! Very few measures have succeeded in achieving such a large modal shift in such a short time.

I am excited to follow future findings that are sure to be reported about this scheme. I’m particularly interested in finding out a) if the traffic can maintain the high modal shift effect from cars; and b) if the scheme will inform decisions to reduce public transport ticket prices in the long run (maybe not to €9, but something in between).

by Göran Smith (Director of Mobility in Transformation at RISE):

As Maria mentioned, the €9 ticket should probably primarily be understood as an attempt to ease the economic strain caused by the high energy prices. Other recent public transport measures taken around the world to reduce public transport costs include the price cut in New Zealand – Public transport services across Aotearoa New Zealand will have half price fares from 1 April 2022 to 31 August 2022 – and the Austrian Klima ticket, which provides access to all public transport in Austria for a year for €1095. These public transit oriented approaches (even though they are often paired with fuel tax reductions in those countries) can be contrasted with the measures recently taken in Sweden, which – as far as transportation goes – only compensates car users.

As to the effectiveness of the €9 ticket, it seems to have had an immediate effect with high public awareness and usage rates just in the first week alone. This is good for the objective of lowering the cost of living for users. But there are already political organisers wanting to extend the ticket beyond the three planned months – to a permanent €365 yearly ticket. This would bring such a scheme beyond the narrower goals of cost-of-living relief into the broader objectives of the free public transport movement. On this point, I personally think there are better ways of distributing public transport subsidies to the people that need it – the €9 ticket scheme is budgeted to cost Germany’s federal government 2.5 billion euros (over the three months) to the federal states as reimbursement for income their public transport companies will lose. Furthermore, I think directly investing money in improving public transport could also have better effects as a general pro-public transport measure as price is far from the only reason why people choose other travel options over public transport.

In terms of the relevance for Mobility as a Service (MaaS), the €9 ticket needs to work nationally across a large multitude of regional operators and different modes of transport. Should this scheme be extended, it would make sense that it would add to pressure for the creation of a nationally integrated ticketing system – this may even align with the interests of the different regional transit authorities as it would enable them to better track users in their network and claim reimbursements from the federal state. User friendly and integrated ticketing between different transit authorities is a key condition for most MaaS programs. However, it remains to be seen how short lived the €9 ticket is and what changes to more long-term public transport ticketing and pricing it contributes to.