When will Germany’s €49 monthly travel ticket start?

Germany has agreed a new monthly public transport ticket as a follow-up to summer’s €9 ticket. But there are question marks over when it will be rolled out.

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A regional train in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt

The new ticket, which will be valid on public transport networks throughout Germany, was agreed on Wednesday following a meeting between Germany’s federal and state governments.

The news has been welcomed across the country, with transport experts saying it was a step forward in changing mobility behaviour and protecting the climate. 

It comes after the hugely successful €9 monthly deal which ran in June, July and August. 

Under the new proposals, people will be able to travel on local buses, trams and trains – as well as regional train services – for €49 per month. 

Politicians have said they want to see the offer – dubbed the Deutschlandticket – come into force on January 1st 2023. 

But doubts have been raised on whether that’s possible, with transport firms saying they don’t consider this feasible.

Oliver Wolff, managing director of the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), said a March 1st launch is more realistic. 

He said the ticket is a paradigm shift and poses challenges.

“And in this respect, we actually have the task of preparing the digital channels now,” he said. “That takes a bit of time. I therefore assume that we will have a transitional period where old sales formats will also continue to run, i.e. paper tickets too for a certain time. But in the end, we will just have to go digital.”

According to Wolff, Transport Minister Volker Wissing’s idea is that a central platform will be set up for this purpose. “Of course, that will take a bit of preparation time,” he said.

Baden-Württemberg state premier Winfried Kretschmann also said this week that a roll-out was more likely in spring 2023.

Transport Minister Wissing expressed caution after initially pushing for a January 1st start date. He said: “It won’t help if we rush into something now and technical problems make the launch difficult.”

Wissing said the next steps would be for the federal states to clarify the implementation “quickly” with the government, “so that we can name a binding start date in a few weeks”.

Following the announcement on the ticket, Wissing rejected accusations that people in rural areas will not benefit from the offer.

“Especially in rural areas, citizens will benefit greatly from the ticket,” Wissing told the Rheinische Post and the Bonner General-Anzeiger. He added that public transportation is “usually much more expensive” in rural areas than in cities and metropolitan areas.

Now it will be “cheaper for people in rural areas and they can use the ticket in everyday life,” Wissing said.

The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) said it saw huge potential in the new Deutschlandticket.

People could use it to permanently change their mobility behaviour, said managing director Wolff.

“We expect it to make a contribution to climate protection, to get more passengers,” he added. “For citizens, it’s a very good offer because it also takes away the complexity in local transport: one ticket for everything. It’s in line with today’s flat-rate mentality.”

However, he pointed that bicycle transport would not be free with the offer, meaning that people will have to buy an additional ticket to take their bike on board. 

Wolff went on to say that the Deutschlandticket only makes sense if extra funding continues to be ploughed into transport.

“It’s no use to anyone, either in rural areas or in cities, to have this ticket if there is no reasonable transport service,” he said.

The federal government’s increase in regionalisation funding is a positive step, he said. “I assume that politicians will now continue to ramp up the service.”

SOURCE: THE LOCAL