Mainz (dpa / lrs) – The Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Mobility unanimously give a positive opinion of the 9 euro ticket, which is valid until the end of August. The ticket showed the potential of public transport, said Social Minister Alexander Schweitzer (SPD) in an interview with the German news agency in Mainz. “We can never again talk about buses and trains as we did before the 9 euro ticket,” said the Social Democrat. Something must follow from this knowledge. “And the discussion continues.”
The Ministry of Mobility, led by Green Minister Katrin Eder, also answered a question from the state parliament Lei Heidbreder, a member of the Green Party, who was also broadly positive. The 9 euro ticket sparked enthusiasm for local public transport. “According to a market study by VDV, around 20 percent of buyers said they would not normally have used public transport before,” he says. The first results of market research by the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) showed that the demand, awareness and attractiveness of the ticket remain high. Eder ministry said some people were motivated in general to try public transport. – That’s a good signal.
The 9 euro ticket was or is valid in June, July and August nationwide on all buses, trams, metro, commuter and regional trains, and local and regional transport – be it from Deutsche Bahn or other suppliers. Deutsche Bahn long-distance traffic cannot be used. The ticket was part of one of the federal government’s bailouts due to high inflation.
The scientific evaluation of the ticket is still ongoing, but the Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), who hails from Rhineland-Palatinate, has already called it “a brilliant success” and “the best idea for rail transport in a very long time.” . His party colleague, federal finance minister Christian Lindner, rejected expectations over the weekend for a successor plan.
Many traffic experts are skeptical whether the ticket will significantly shift traffic from the road to public transport. “From previous studies, there is only a slight shift from road to public transport, at most two to three percent,” said Christian Böttger, rail expert at the University of Applied Sciences Berlin (HTW). This coincides with the first results of research from the Munich agglomeration. She found that 35 percent of the people surveyed traveled more often by bus and train – but only 3 percent were using their own vehicle less. However, scientists noticed a certain damping effect on traffic in Munich.
An analysis by the TomTom traffic data specialist for the German Press Agency also showed a reduction in traffic congestion in large German cities in the first phase of the 9 euro ticket. A radical change in everyday behavior was not to be expected, said Klaus Bogenberger, head of the Munich study of the Technical University of Munich, when the results were presented in July. At the same time, he said: “Many have incorporated public transport into their daily lives.”
Rhineland-Palatinate Social Affairs Minister Schweitzer told DPA that it was clear that a ticket at this price could not be made available permanently. – But he opened the window. Green MP Heidbreder told DPA: “The 9 euro ticket was a thousand times more successful than the discount on the tanks.” The dynamism it has generated is now to be used for further mobility policy initiatives. “The window has opened up to great new possibilities.”
According to Schweitzer, it is necessary to look in detail at how public transport can be made more attractive in the future. The important thing is “by tariffing” which means you don’t have to buy multiple tickets in different places for a longer journey and the price is reasonable. This has to be accompanied by better infrastructure, which has reached its limits since the introduction of the € 9 ticket in June.
In response, the Ministry of Mobility also referred to infrastructure. There have been capacity bottlenecks since the ticket was launched and the industry has heard of overworked employees. “The past experience of many transport companies shows that the most important thing is the offer and less the price to convince people to switch to public transport.” The state government has concluded that in addition to attractive prices, everything must be done to expand the range of services as well as possible. The offer in “under-served areas in rural areas” should be improved, and bottlenecks in agglomerations should be eliminated.
According to the Ministry of Mobility, the goal of more attractive tariffs is currently extremely difficult. Fuel, energy and personnel costs have risen enormously, putting a burden on transport companies. “The country is currently focusing on securing existing offers and preventing a massive increase in tariffs,” the ministry said. “This alone will put a heavy burden on the budgets available today.”
The purpose of the 365 euro ticket for young people – for example the 365 euro annual ticket for students and trainees – is already specified in the traffic light coalition agreement in Rhineland-Palatinate. The country announced in May that it would likely begin in the first half of 2024. The city of Mainz, which benefits from high trade tax revenues, is already starting the new school year.
Heidbreder said that when the 365 Euro ticket structure for young people was created, other target groups could be added. “We need a return to mobility not only for climate protection, but also from a socio-political perspective,” she emphasized. “The exhaust gases are not caught by the rich, but rather by those on a tight budget who live on the big roads.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220809-99-322316 / 3