Will Germany introduce a new transport offer after the €9 ticket?

German welfare and transport groups are calling for a new cheap transport deal to replace the €9 ticket in September.

€9 ticket
A ticket machine in Berlin advertises the €9 ticket. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Germany’s €9 monthly travel ticket has so far been incredibly popular, with 16 million people snapping up the deal within just a few weeks of the ticket coming on sale.

But social welfare advocates are already looking ahead to September – when the offer is due to end – and are calling on the government to keep affordable transport high on the agenda.

“Politicians must now seize the opportunity and set the long-term course for sustainable and affordable mobility by improving local and regional public transport and making it affordable for everyone,” Adolf Bauer, president of the German Social Welfare Association, told the Funke Mediengruppe.

Pointing to the level of demand for the €9 ticket, Bauer said the deal had shown how great the potential for local public transport use could be.

“It is imperative to use this momentum to develop a permanently discounted offer for public transport tickets,” he said.

One option that states are said to be considering is a €365 annual ticket that would work out at just €1 per day for unlimited local or regional travel. 

This idea has already been adopted in some German cities, but so far it has only been rolled out at a state level for individual groups like seniors or students.

To finance the subsidised travel, Bauer suggested raising taxes on large inheritances, assets and capital gains and “reallocating” the money into public transport and road redevelopment projects. 

READ ALSO: €9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany’s cheap travel deal

Munich U-Bahn ticket machine

A passenger on the Munich U-Bahn purchases a €9 ticket. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Felix Hörhager

Left Party joins calls for €365 ticket

The Left Party (Die Linke) has also been upping pressure on the government to find a more long-term cheap transport solution when the €9 ticket ends. 

Left Party parliamentary leader Dietmar Bartsch told the Funke Media Group on Wednesday that ending the ticket without an alternative offer could be “fatal” for public transport use. 

“We should permanently replace the €9 ticket with a €1 ticket,” he suggested. “€1 a day or €365 euros a year – that’s all local transport should cost citizens.”

According to Bartsch, this would be “a sensible instrument against the effects of inflation, for social cohesion and climate protection.”

Kristian Ronneburg, the transport spokesperson for the Left Party in the Berlin House of Representatives, also urged the federal government to step in and provide funding for cheap trains and buses. 

“Increases in ticket prices after the expiry of the €9 ticket would be a disservice to the transport transition in our metropolitan region,” he said. “There needs to be continued public pressure on the federal government not to let things slide now, but to support the ticket permanently and enable attractive fares without neglecting the refurbishment, modernisation and expansion of the rail infrastructure.”

The Vienna example 

In Austria’s capital, Vienna, a €365 annual transport ticket had been a huge success, with less than 30 percent of city residents using a car to get around and almost 40 percent relying on public transport. 

However, some experts point to the fact that Vienna’s public transport network has also been consistently expanded and improved over several years, making it a more attractive proposition than, for example, public transport in Berlin. 

According to Karl-Peter Naumann, honorary chairman of Pro Bahn, the rail network and rail transport should first be expanded and prepared for greater demand before offering low-cost local transport.

Vienna night train

A night train pulls out of Vienna central station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/APA | Georg Hochmuth

At the same time, driving has to be made significantly more expensive, for example through higher parking fees.

“This is the only way to achieve a mobility transition and a shift from road to rail,” Naumann told the Funke Media Group.

The chairwoman of the conference of transport ministers, Maike Schaefer, also argued that in addition to the best possible nationwide ticket, the federal states needed higher regionalisation funds for better timetables and infrastructure. 

“All this should be put together in a big package for the transport turnaround in order to sustainably save CO2 in the transport sector,” the Bremen Senator for Climate Protection and the Environment told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Germany need to know about the €9 public transport ticket

FDP rule out €9 ticket extension

The €9 ticket is due to run throughout July and August as part of the government’s energy relief package. 

Although there is also a temporary fuel tax cut for drivers, the traffic light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) is hoping that the transport offer could encourage people to ditch their cars for the summer and take trains and buses instead. 

However, despite the enthusiastic take-up of the ticket, the pro-business FDP has been quick to rule out any extension of the deal beyond autumn, with Finance Minister Christian Lindner citing costs of more than a billion euros per month. 

“Steps towards free public transport are controversial because shortages (e.g. in seating) cannot then be controlled by price,” he said, adding that people could overwhelm the capacities of trains and buses. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s €9 ticket won’t continue in autumn, says minister

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IN PICTURES: German workers down tools in unprecedented strike action

In a rare show of combined force, Germany's service-sector union Verdi teamed up with rail sector union EVG in a nationwide day of industrial action on Monday. Here's how the morning unfolded.

IN PICTURES: German workers down tools in unprecedented strike action

Though strikes are far from uncommon in Germany, Monday’s ‘mega strike’ – which paralysed bus and train services across the country – was an extraordinary move on the part of two unions. 

It came after months of public-sector walk-outs that had affected everything from Kitas and hospitals in Berlin to administration and air traffic in Munich. However, until March 27th, most strikes had been taking place on a more scattered and localised level – and Deutsche Bahn had generally stayed in service amid multiple local transport strikes.

This time around a coordinated effort between services union Verdi and rail union EVG means that both Deutsche Bahn and local transport are disrupted across the nation.

Pictures emerged early on Monday morning of train stations standing eerily empty ahead of the strike.

Halle Hauptbahnhof

An empty platform at Halle Hauptbahnhof. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hendrik Schmidt

Almost all long-distance and local train services were out of action on Monday thanks to the Deutsche Bahn walk-out, leading to extraordinary scenes like this one at Mainz Hauptbahnhof – a station that normally caters to around 60,000 passengers each day.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What to expect during Monday’s ‘mega strike’ in Germany

Mainz station during strike

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Halisch

However, some people pointed out that the communication from Germany’s state-owned rail operator wasn’t quite as clear as it could have been.

Tweeting from Berlin’s famous Zoologischer Garten station, journalist Jörn Hasselmann noticed misleading info on trains that weren’t supposed to be running.

“The @DB_Bahn manages to cause confusion even when there are no trains,” he wrote. “Apparently it is not that easy to switch off ALL the monitors.”

Aside from Deutsche Bahn services, a number of workers from regional transport operators also took part in the ‘mega strike’ on Monday.

These included workers from Transdev, AKN, Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen, erixx, vlexx, eurobahn, and the Länderbahn – meaning that local U-Bahn, bus and tram services in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saxony were all affected.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get compensation for delayed or cancelled trains in Germany

In Cologne, which has been wracked by industrial action in recent weeks, commuters were once again left short of options. 

Cologne local transport during strikes

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roberto Pfeil

And it wasn’t just people taking short-haul journeys that faced headaches on Monday morning: aviation workers were also taking part in Monday’s strike, leading to flight cancellations across the board.

A passenger checks the departures board at Munich Airport on Monday

A passenger checks the departures board at Munich Airport on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Angelika Warmuth

With passengers warned to stay away and rebook their flights, most airports remained all but empty on Monday.

A cleaner at Düsseldorf Airport on Monday.

A cleaner at Düsseldorf Airport on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Reichwein

READ ALSO: What are your rights in Germany if a flight is delayed or cancelled?

The major day of action was timed to coincide with the start of three-day negotiations between the services union Verdi and government employers over public-sector pay.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) was among the senior ministers taking part in the talks, which are aimed at resolving a fierce dispute over wages.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser Verdi

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) arrives at negotiations in Potsdam. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Carsten Koall

Shortly before the negotiations kicked off, Verdi tweeted images of demos taking place outside of Potsdam’s Congress Hotel.

One protester held a sign saying: “Soon to be working 24/7 – still can’t afford my rent”.

Verdi is negotiating on behalf of some 2.5 million public sector workers, including those in childcare, health, transport and local administration.

To help cope with inflation, the union is demanding 10.5 percent more pay or a minimum of €500 extra per month for workers. 

Workers Verdi strike Potsdam

Workers from various sectors gather at a demo outside the Congress Hotel in Potsdam. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Carsten Koall

Police workers strike Monday

Police bang a drum outside the Congress Hotel on Monday as part of a demonstration for higher wages. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Carsten Koall

Social media was filled with messages of solidarity and support, with one commenter posting a graph depicting the real-term cut in pay that workers have suffered over the previous two years.

There were also demonstrations by rail union EVG members at train stations across the country.

EVG strike demo Duisburg

Demonstrators from the EVG rail union gather in front of Duisburg Hauptbahnhof on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Reichwein

EVG is demanding a 12 percent pay rise for its workers to compensate for the spiralling cost of living.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why are there so many strikes in Germany right now?