28 Apr 2023, 13:12
Carolina Kyllmann

Germany kicks off nationwide public transport ticket as NGOs lament wasted potential

Clean Energy Wire / Die Zeit / Süddeutsche Zeitung

Germany is introducing a nationwide monthly 49-euro public transport ticket which will allow users to use any regional buses or trains across the country, but environmental associations still see much room for improvement. While the NGOs have praised the introduction of the ‘Germany ticket’ on 1 May as a step in the right direction, they argue that local public transport must be expanded, and further measures are needed to encourage commuters to favour buses and trains over cars. It is unclear whether the ticket will save much CO2 because a notable number of car journeys would have to be eliminated through the ticket, Jens Hilgenberg, head of transport policy at environmental group BUND said in an article by Die Zeit. Municipalities also worry funding won’t be enough from next year and the price of the ticket will soon go up, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Environmental association DUH has called for infrastructure to be improved – especially in rural areas – and for a 29-euro ticket to be introduced for certain groups of people. “The federal government should ensure modern railways and improved bus connections go beyond the metropolises,” Jürgen Resch, national head at DUH, said. “The ‘Germany ticket’ falls short of its potential,” an alliance for a socially-responsible mobility transition, including environment group NABU, added.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised the introduction of the ticket, saying it was such a big step forward that its entire implication will only be clear in five or ten years’ time. “This is a true modernisation project from Germany,” he said. The government had pledged to introduce a permanent country-wide public transport ticket following the success of the 9-euro ticket. The initiative, which ran between June and August 2022, was introduced as part of a relief package during the energy crisis and led to a dramatic decrease in CO2 emissions. The 49-euro ticket should make public transport more attractive and get more people using buses and trains, according to the government. Around 750,000 subscriptions were sold one week before the start of the project. Germany’s mobility sector is the country’s “problem child” in regards to climate protection, with emissions remaining stubbornly high.

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