If you want to know whether the Germans want to participate or not, ask in Wuppertal. Stadtwerke was the first in Germany to activate presales via the app on Wednesday – even before the official decision. 1,700 tickets were sold out within a few hours. This clearly exceeded the expectations of the planners. “We weren’t expecting such a number.” Following the decision in the Federal Council on Friday, nationwide sales will begin next week. The campaign of reductions aims to at least partially exempt citizens from higher energy prices and encourage them to switch from cars to public transportation in the long term. The Southgerman newspaper It answers the most important questions and answers about one of the greatest experiences in the history of domestic transportation:
What do tickets offer?
If you buy a ticket worth nine euros, you can use it for unlimited travel on buses and trains on local public transport throughout Germany in the relevant calendar month. This means that if you buy it in Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, you can also use it on buses and trains in the North Sea and Baltic Sea, in the foothills of the Alps or Lake Constance. Holiday trips to the sea or the mountains can also be taken if you use the local trains. If you have enough time, you can also cover cross-country routes on regional trains. Long-distance traffic on the Deutsche Bahn, such as ICEs, ECs, ICs, and group long-distance buses, as well as Flix trains and buses, have been banned from passengers. The ticket is only valid for second class.
Where and when can I buy tickets?
The sale will start in the coming days. From May 23, Deutsche Bahn, the largest provider, will sell tickets via websites, apps, vending machines and travel centers. Large transport associations also begin to sell. The transport company in Berlin has announced that it wants to display tickets from Saturday, according to what the transport company in Munich announced, starting work at the end of May. Tickets are offered in digital and paper format. They are valid from the first day of the calendar month at midnight until the end of the month in which they were purchased at midnight and do not renew automatically. However, according to Bahn, tickets must also be available for all three months at once.
How do subscription customers benefit from cheaper monthly rates?
Even those who already have a subscription to local transportation should take advantage of the campaign. According to the plans of the Federal Ministry of Transport, local carriers will have to automatically compensate the difference between the ticket price and the nine-euro ticket. Either through direct debit reduction or through counter payment. A similar solution is planned for semester tickets. Subscription tickets must also be valid nationwide for the period through August. Ticket holders shall be automatically informed by the transport associations of how the discount campaign is calculated. If you have a train season ticket for local transportation, you’ll get your money back, too. This does not apply to long-distance season ticket subscribers.
Is there a danger of crowded trains and buses in the summer?
Experts are already anticipating running on buses and trains. The local transport association VDV assumes that 30 million old and new passengers will use the ticket. This will allow more passengers to board the plane than is usually the case on local transport during the summer months. Railroads and local carriers have already indicated that more or longer trains can run only on very few tracks. It is said that additional vehicles or personnel will hardly be available.
Therefore, the largest railway union EVG is already warning of chaos in the summer months. “I expect crowded trains to be cleared and stations to be closed due to congestion,” EVG President Klaus-Dieter Hummel said. Simply, there were not enough cars available. Tourist destinations, such as Lake Constance, the Baltic Sea or the Alps, are likely to be particularly affected by the high passenger numbers.
On the other hand, the Federal Department of Transportation expects carriers to control the problems. However, ticket users will have to be aware of the fact that there can be high occupancy rates, as is also the case at peak times.
Can you bring children with you for free?
It depends on the age of the child: according to the exact conditions, children under six travel for free on a nine-euro ticket. Children over the age of six require their own nine-euro ticket.
What should you consider when taking bicycles with you?
The ticket is not generally included in taking your own bike. For example, the “receiving rules” of the respective transport associations apply. Extra costs for the bike are usually organised. The railway warns that bicycle transport cannot be guaranteed from June to August due to expected full trains. So it recommends renting bikes at your destination. Passengers should also avoid traveling by bike on public holidays.
Is the ticket also valid for on-demand offers, such as shared taxis and bus taxis?
The discount ticket is not valid for additional offers such as shared taxis, which are often also offered by transport associations. For respective local transport association offerings, which are provided at an additional cost, the normal rate continues to apply.
What are politicians actually hoping for from the cuts campaign?
Primarily at the behest of the Greens, the federal government is working to make local transportation cheaper through a local transportation ticket to offset fossil fuel subsidies – for example through cheaper fuels. That’s what the relief package says. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wessing (FDP) also sees cheap tickets as an incentive to permanently use buses and trains. Talk about an opportunity to make local public transit visible again. In addition, the hoped-for switch for many Germans to local transportation would help save energy.
Why isn’t the ticket offered for free right away?
In some federal states, there was already a plan to do without tickets altogether – and thus no controls as well. This would have greatly reduced bureaucracy. But from a political point of view, there were some arguments against it. On the other hand, at least part of the domestic transportation costs can be financed with the nine euros. Revenue remains with the federal states, while costs are borne by the federal government. In the case of paying customers, the usage can also be better analyzed. Therefore, surveys are also planned. Because for carriers and politicians, this is an interesting question about the conditions under which Germans want to switch to local transportation more often.
Politicians hope Germans will switch from cars to local transportation in the long run. Can a discount campaign help?
In order to meet the federal government’s climate goals, politicians want to persuade Germans to switch on a large scale. By 2030, it will use twice as many people as buses and trains today. Whether this succeeds is controversial. Experts are constantly asking for more money for local transportation. Several federal states warn that the effect of the ticket could wear off if domestic transportation tickets were to become more expensive than in the fall due to cash register restrictions. The federal government agreed to cover the costs of the nine-euro ticket: up to 2.5 billion euros. However, countries expect billions more in aid, for example due to increased energy costs. Minister Wesing has so far refused. The local transportation industry now considers that it is possible that companies will have to reduce their offerings or raise prices in the future due to increased costs. Both run counter to the government’s goal of doubling the number of passengers by 2030 for greater climate protection.