German govt and states agree on continuing nationwide public transport ticket, price may go up
ARD / Clean Energy Wire
The nationwide public transport ticket for Germany will still be available in 2024 but its monthly price may go up, the federal government and the country’s 16 states announced following a compromise agreement between them on its funding. The agreement will cover the "Germany Ticket’s" funding throughout the next year, during which the federal government and the states will meet again to decide on a long-term financing plan that “includes a mechanism for updating the ticket’s price that might also include a price increase,” public broadcaster ARD reported. The ticket’s future had been hanging in the balance for weeks, as chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government coalition and the state governments could not agree on how to compensate for the losses to public transport operators. The operators complained they were being left out of pocket by the ticket, which is valid on most public transport options across the country for a flat rate fare of 49 euros per month - a price labelled as an “introduction price”.
The current funding model will leave a gap of about 400 million euros next year, according to public transport operators. But the states and the federal coalition on Monday agreed to tap into unused funds from 2023 and co-fund 1.5 billion euros each in 2024 before deciding on further mechanisms “in due course”. Transport minister Volker Wissing said the states no longer had any reason “to put the Germany Ticket into question.” The minister said a new concept should be developed by May 2024, one year after the scheme was first introduced. Hesse’s state premier Boris Rhein, who currently heads the state premier conference, said the states have no intention of undermining the nationwide ticket. “We want to continue it,” Rhein said.
Environmental group Greenpeace criticised the agreement, saying it did not rule out price increases. “If customers now have to expect a price rise at any time, this will choke off the ticket’s success before it even got started in earnest,” Greenpeace transport expert Clara Thompson said. Jürgen Resch, head of NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH), said the Germany Ticket would mark “one of the few things the federal government got right in terms of the transport transition.” While the government had no issue “wasting billions of euros on new motorway projects, where cost increases are just shrugged off, funding an affordable 49-euro ticket seems to be an almost utopian task,” Resch said. Scholz’s coalition had promised to increase the number of public transport users. “This can be funded through ending environmentally damaging subsides such as supporting climate damaging company cars or diesel fuel,” Resch added.
A recent survey had found that up to a third of current Germany Ticket holders could opt out of the scheme if the price was to rise further. The ticket had initially been introduced at a fare of 9 euros in the middle of 2022 amid the energy crisis. While most citizens welcomed the scheme and up to a third of people signalled their interest in buying it, the effects on emissions reduction and car use so far have been ambiguous.