Millions of Germans are expected to take advantage of a summer of cheaper travel from next month under government plans to boost public transport use and give financial relief to consumers facing a cost of living crisis.
A €9 a month ticket scheme is to be introduced from 1 June allowing travel on all modes of city and regional transport. A different ticket will apply for each region and it will be available for three months until the end of August.
Germany’s upper house of parliament approved the move on Friday, following on from the Bundestag on Thursday. The scheme will cost the government €2.5 bn as it is due to pay back to transport companies the shortfall in income as well as the cost of administering the sale, including giving back to commuters who already have season tickets, the amount they are effectively out of pocket.
The cost of the ticket is a fraction of the normal cost of travel, amounting to around a sixth of the price of the cheapest monthly ticket available for Berlin’s central zones.
The scheme is in response to rising energy prices and is intended to offer everyone from commuters and weekend trippers who might normally choose to take the car, the chance to out the benefits of public transport.
然而, detractors have warned of overcrowded trains, buses and trams – some of which are already full to capacity – and restrictions on taking bicycles and prams due to lack of space. They suggest that when the experiment is over, ticket prices might have been pushed up considerably by a further expected rise in inflation making public transport less attractive.
Volker Wissing, Germany’s transport minister, of the pro-business FDP called the €9 ticket a “huge opportunity” for climate-friendly mobility in Germany. He told parliament the scheme was already a success before it had launched “as everyone in Germany is talking about public transport”.
Katharina Dröge, the parliamentary head of the Green party, said the ticket would be welcome by those who are feeling the strain of inflation. “For those who are looking for ways of saving, the €9 ticket is an important measure,“ 她说. “We hope as many people take advantage of it as possible.”
Deutsche Bahn, the national rail operator and the biggest participant in the project, said it planned to start selling the tickets on Monday. Some sales of smaller operators have already sold tickets. Hamburg is to start today and others do so at the weekend.
Jens Hilgenberg, a transport expert for the Association of Environment and Nature Protection (Bund), told DPA he welcomed the move. 然而, he said it would send an even more important signal if the government were to improve ticket prices and transport across the country, particularly in rural areas where people are most reliant on their cars.
“The €9 ticket does not mean that any extra bus will be available in rural areas but this is where alternatives to the car need to be increased greatly,“ 他说.
Critics who welcome the attempt to lure people from their cars have at the same time decried the fact that the government is planning to reduce the burden on all car drivers over the same period with a reduction in the energy tax on petrol, which in turn means a fall in the VAT on it. According to the finance ministry, petrol will be reduced by 35.2 cents per litre, and diesel by 16.7 cents.