Economy: ROUNDUP 3: cheap bus and train tickets are coming

BERLIN Buses and trains throughout Germany will be drastically cheaper for millions of passengers in the summer. On Friday, the Federal Council paved the way for the € 9 monthly tickets in June, July and August, which are valid everywhere for local and regional transport. This means that nationwide sales on the railways and with other suppliers may start as early as Monday, in some places it is already operating. Tickets, which are part of the discounted packages from the traffic light coalition due to high energy costs, should apply from June 1. They should also be a great tasting offer for local public transport (ÖPNV) – along with the tax relief on fuel prices at gas stations. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said in the Bundesrat that with the € 9 ticket, public transport is now on everyone’s lips. “Many people who have been less interested in public transport so far want to give local transport a chance in the next three months.” For a punctual start it was now necessary to do so by a state chamber. It agreed to the financing law passed by the Bundestag. According to it, the federal government provides, inter alia, EUR 2.5 billion to compensate for the loss of revenue from carriers. However, the federal states backed their urgent demand to increase federal money for public transport in general. Tickets cost a flat rate of EUR 9 per calendar month – for any number of journeys on buses, trams, underground, S-Bahn, local and regional trains within Germany. Long-distance trains and long-distance buses cannot be used. Tickets can be purchased at vending machines, ticket offices or online at the shipping company. The industry is also planning a joint online sales platform. Tickets automatically release millions of commuters from subscriptions – because they are much cheaper than regular monthly tickets. If you have a monthly or annual subscription, the fee for each of the three months should be only 9 euros. According to industry information, this should be settled with a reduced direct debit or refund of the difference. It should be similar in the case of semester or work tickets. The president of the heads of state departments, Senator from Bremen Maike Schaefer (the Greens) spoke of a “great chance” for public transport to present itself. The ticket is also absolutely essential as the climate friendly answer to the tank discount. Overall, the fight for more money has only been postponed. In the resolution, the Federal Council warned that the current measures are far from sufficient to ensure a lasting improvement in the entire range of services. Wissing stressed in the minutes that the federal government was committed to “future-oriented financing” of public transport outside of a dedicated campaign. And now the federal government wants to transfer the EUR 9 ticket compensation as soon as possible to safeguard the liquidity of the transport company. Practical implementation on the spot is likely to require effort anyway, as made clear by several ministers in the Bundesrat. Bernd Buchholz (FDP), head of the Schleswig-Holstein department, complained that it has now become a “friendly vacation ticket” that is also valid nationwide. This will mean less relief for commuters, but “hitting the shores”, for example on the move to the Baltic Sea or the North Sea island of Sylt. He has already ordered millions of additional production capacity for his country “so that we do not fall into chaos”. Wissing stressed that the “mammoth project” was developed in a short time with countries and industry. The main work now goes to employees of transport companies. On certain days and on certain routes, the trains will be fuller. Such a cheap ticket leads to many users. “Perhaps we need to meet a smile at one time or another if you can’t get on the train and you are waiting for the next one.” During the summer period, the tickets could be used for holiday trips as part of the campaign. In addition, there is no three-month vacation, said Wissing with commuters in mind. The ticket should now also relieve anyone who is not driving. This is basically a good approach, said Federal Government Movement Expert for Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND) Jens Hilgenberg of the German Press Agency. Even more important is permanently much more money for better deals in the area. “With the € 9 ticket, there are no extra buses in the rural areas.” After the end of the promotional period, ticket prices should also return to normal fares. Consumer ombudsmen have already warned that there may be a risk of price increases due to rising energy costs for buses and trains. It remains to be seen how great the desire to change drivers is. Because at the same time there is a cost brake during refueling, which was allowed by the Federal Council. The energy tax will also be lowered from June to the end of August. As confirmed by the Ministry of Finance, this means savings of 35.2 cents per liter of gasoline and 16.7 cents per liter of diesel fuel.

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