From June 1st, 2022, passengers in Germany are supposed to have the right to use the 9 Euro Ticket on public transport and Deutsche Bahn’s regional trains. But some federal states just threatened to strike down the whole thing. What is going on here?
Sofia, Bulgaria, May 18th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Apart from the three main crises the world is confronted with, the war in Russia, the pandemic and climate change, the 9 Euro Ticket is probably the most-discussed subject in Germany. Tens of millions of Germans and residents of other nationalities intend to make use of it.
Now, just before the 9 Euro Ticket was supposed to be introduced, it might be in jeopardy. Several federal states are far from happy. They are threatening to stop the government’s plans in the Bundesrat on Friday, in order to put pressure on the government. In Germany, there is something called ‘regionalization funds’, money Berlin (as in capital) pays to the states so that they can cover the costs for their public transport. They are basically being reimbursed for lost revenue.
At this stage, the government intends to pay 2.5 billion Euro (2.63 billion U.S. Dollars or 2.11 billion Pounds Sterling). But the federal states want more. ‘Give us more money or else ….’ is their approach. German-language publications quoted Bavaria’s Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter as saying if the government believed there would be applause for a three-month consolation, while others paid the bill, it was mistaken. The 9 Euro Ticket is supposed to be available for three months, namely June, July and August.
Bernreiter, a member of the conservative CSU, which is Bavaria’s version of the CDU, is getting support from colleagues on the left too. Maike Schaefer, the Green Senator for Climate Protection and Mobility in Bremen, was quoted in German newspapers as well. She said in case the 9 Euro Ticket was dumped, Germany’s Transport Minister Volker Wissing would be responsible. She stressed that many citizens had high expectations in regard to the ticket. The state of Baden-Württemberg is threatening the federal government too.
So, is this sensational ticket really in jeopardy? The simple answer is yes, but the more complicated one looks somewhat different: No state government really wants to disappoint its voters, which is why those threats can be registered as hot air. On the other hand, the argument about those ‘regionalization funds’ could escalate, and the conservatives could use the difference of opinion against Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ ‘traffic light coalition’ which consists of his center-left SPD, the left-wing Greens and the center-right FDP. In fact, they already are.
Germany’s 9 Euro Ticket is part of a giant relief package that is supposed to reimburse citizens and other residents for the skyrocketing energy prices. It has a second purpose: In theory, the plan is to lure more Germans into using public transport instead of their private vehicles. But the question whether the ticket is actually the right tool to reach this goal. This aspect has led to another argument in the Federal Republic.
Berlin’s Transport Senator Bettina Jarasch stated the 9 Euro Ticket would not increase the number of public transport passengers after those three months because it was a short-run measure that was not sustainable. She had more bad news to spread: According to her, the 0 Euro Ticket the Berlin Senate had discussed is probably off the table because it might be too late to implement this plan. The city state of Berlin had intended to turn the 9 Euro Ticket into a 0 Euro Ticket for public transport passengers with subscriptions.
This is what is supposed to happen in the next 14 days:
Thursday, May 19th, 2022:
The Bundestag approves the measure.
Monday, May 20th, 2022:
The Bundesrat approves the measure.
Saturday, May 21st, 2022:
Berlin’s public transport provider BVG offers the 9 Euro Ticket through its apps, at its ticket machines and ticket counters. Transport operators in other cities will probably follow suit here.
Monday, May 23rd, 2022:
Deutsche Bahn starts offering the 9 Euro Ticket through its apps and other digital ticket sales channels.
Wednesday, June 1st, 2022:
From this day forward, the 9 Euro Ticket is valid for rides on all vehicles run by state-owned public transport operators and on Deutsche Bahn’s regional trains.
Private public transport companies are not taking part. On Deutsche Bahn’s IC, EC and ICE trains, regular tickets have to be purchased. Those 9 Euro Tickets are being sold for each of the three months June, July and August of 2022 separately. There is a downside: Deutsche Bahn expects its regional trains to be crowded, and this is probably an understatement. By the way: How do I put together my trips on DB’s regional trains? We explained the procedure in this feature.
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