Resolution document 49-euro ticket in sight
Bremerhaven · A 49-euro ticket is to replace the 9-euro ticket across all of Germany. The transport ministers of the federal and state governments want to implement this attractive ticket. It is tied to an important prerequisite, however.
For millions of passengers, a nationwide 49-euro monthly ticket for buses and trains is coming into sight at the beginning of 2023. In Bremerhaven, the federal and state transport ministers agreed on this follow-up to the popular 9-euro ticket which was valid in summer.
However, there is a big catch: It is still subject to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the state premiers agreeing on the general financing of local public transport (ÖPNV) in times of rising energy costs. Preparations for the new ticket, which is scheduled to start on January 1, are already underway.
The chairwoman of the state heads of department, Bremen's Senator Maike Schaefer (Greens), spoke of a breakthrough. A nationwide ticket for 49 euros would be "a mega relief for quite a few commuters." But this would also be an enormous financial effort for the federal and state governments, she said, referring to recently discussed models for tickets at 29 euros or 69 euros a month.
Federal Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said that "a decisive step forward has now been made". Technical and content-related issues have been clarified, so that preparations for implementation can begin. The introduction of the system on January 1, as planned, "should be our goal”.
Important financing issues still need clarification
However, important financing issues are still unresolved. The states are now prepared to finance the new ticket together with the federal government - it would probably be 1.5 billion euros each. But they make it a condition that the federal government also provides more money on a permanent basis, which they can use to order buses and trains - this year, 9.4 billion of such regionalization funds, plus one billion euros from another pot.
The states warn that because of high energy costs and losses due to the coronavirus crisis, services would otherwise have to be cut. "It's no use having the most attractive ticket if there's no bus service," Schaefer made clear. It is very important that the federal government and the states agree on a model for a nationwide local transport ticket for the price of 49 euros.
The planned 49-euro ticket is "good for climate protection and important for social justice," said Katharina Dröge, chairwoman of the Green Party's parliamentary group in the Bundestag. What is urgent now, she said, is a quick agreement on the financing of local public transport as a whole. She stressed, "The expansion of bus and rail must move forward alongside affordable tickets."
A week ago, the state premiers and Scholz had been unable to reach agreement on the financing of comprehensive relief for citizens and companies. A next meeting is expected in November.
The ball is back in the court of the Conference of State premiers, Schaefer said. "It can now score this penalty kick and make the whole thing a success." Bavaria's Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter (CSU) said cheap tickets only made sense with a stable offer. Specifically, the states want an increase of 1.5 billion euros from this year. In addition, an extra 1.65 billion euros is to come in 2022 and 2023 because of energy prices.
Ongoing subscription, can be canceled monthly
The first practical details for passengers have already become clear. The 49-euro ticket will be available digitally, but also as a plastic card. It is planned as an ongoing subscription that can be canceled monthly.
"We don't want people to have to make a new decision every month," Wissing said. The ticket could be a "game changer," said Baden-Württemberg Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens). It would be much cheaper than previous subscriptions in many major areas and an invitation to use public transport and thus contribute to climate protection. Wissing said, "The ticket will of course shatter the complicated fare structures."
The 9-euro ticket, which was bought by millions, enabled rides on buses and trains for one month each in June, July and August. The ministers are planning a two-year introductory phase for the 49-euro successor. From the second year on, the ticket could become expensive. This is because "dynamization" is planned in the form of automatic inflation compensation. Wissing said that the more people bought the ticket, the greater the chance that it would not become more expensive.
An agreement must be reached
The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) now expects the federal and state governments to reach an agreement on the outstanding financing issues before a 49-euro ticket can be implemented. "We run the risk of having to massively discontinue public transport services across the board because they can no longer be financed due to cost increases," said VDV CEO Oliver Wolff.
Criticism came from environmental associations. Jens Hilgenberg, transport expert at the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland, said: "The 49-euro ticket is above all a compromise solution. For broad sections of the population, this ticket will simply be too expensive." The ADAC motorists' club expressed disappointment that the federal and state governments had not yet been able to reach a final agreement on a successor model.
(Orig. text: Lukas Müller, Sascha Meyer, Andreas Hoenig, dpa; Translation: ck)