German transport ministers agreed to introduce a public transit pass that costs €49 a month and valid nationwide – if officials approve the funding. The ticket is likely coming on 1 January 2023.
This last summer Germany conducted an experiment where they drastically reduced the price of local public transport to just €9. The aim was to help people switch to environmentally friendly transport, reduce gasoline use, and combat inflation. Although the results of the experiments showed an increase in the use of buses and trains, it also caused overcrowding.
After a meeting with counterparts from Germany’s 16 states, Transport Minister Volker Wissing said that the €9 ticket has shown that simplicity is better. He also said that the new ticket would be paperless and could be bought for a single month or as a rolling pass. Like the 9-euro ticket, it won’t be valid for intercity trains.
Financing for the €49 ticket is still an open question and must be resolved. However, Germany’s federal government has offered a €1.5 million annual subsidy to support the scheme. States are also willing to do the same, pending an agreement on federal funding for regional train services.
However, this new initiative has been opposed by other parties. Greenpeace, for example, said that €49 was too expensive for many people. According to the research of the environmental group a ticket for €29 would allow double the number of users while requiring no additional subsidies compared to the more expensive proposal.
We previously discussed the positive results of the €9 ticket in the Smart Mobility newsletter. I recommend reading it, if you missed this news. The study reported the impressive results, where a quarter of trips using the €9 ticket replaced car trips. Shifting modes of transportation from car to public transport is both one of the highest goals in sustainable mobility, and one of the most difficult to achieve. The experiment with the 9-euro ticket suggests a way forward. It seems that a decisive reason why people prefer a car to the public transport is basically cost, because the €9 ticket was significantly cheaper people chose that option. So, the question is if the €49 ticket will have the same success as the €9 ticket?
It is obvious that by introducing this ticket the focus is on people who use cars most of the time, which means that these people must see clear benefits of shifting from car usage to the public transportation. In the end we might have two scenarios. First, the price of a ticket is still too high, and most people don’t benefit in the long run. This would not lead to an increase in the number of people shifting to public transportation. Second, if we assume that in the long run using the public transport is much cheaper than using a car, then we might see many more car trips replaced than we did in the €9 ticket experiment. However, in this case the overcrowding problem mentioned in the article would have to be addressed, as that could act as a further barrier to public transportation adoption. As I see it the cheaper the cost the more long-term adoption of public transportation will happen, and the more sustainable mobility will be. Time will tell how much impact this proposal will have.
Written by Kateryna Melnyk,
RISE Mobility & Systems