Germany: Unlimited rides, almost free

Germany: Unlimited rides, almost free

Absolute freedom of movement, with nominal fees and no regrets regarding our “ecological footprint”. All this becomes a reality in Germany if the “€49 ticket” valid from May 1 and equivalent to a monthly unlimited travel card is successful. The demand is enormous, three million tickets have already been pre-sold. For only 49 euros per month, the person concerned can move freely with all the means of transport in his city, but also with all the trains of the country (except the high-speed InterCity and InterCity Express trains), moreover, he can use all means of transport to its destination, without any additional financial burden.

Let’s do a hypothetical reduction to Greek facts: You live in Athens, take the metro to the station at the weekend, take the train for an excursion to Chalcis, take the local bus to the beach, come back to Athens and all without spend a single euro beyond the “fixed” amount of 49 euros per month. Next weekend, you choose another destination.

The obvious objective of the measure is to improve the financial viability of public transport, which will now be able to plan with predictable income, but above all to limit travel by car, especially in the city centre, which in many case is no longer accessible to IX cars.

The “9 euro ticket” experience

The experience of the first corresponding experiment, the “nine euro ticket” which was put in place during the recession of the pandemic, namely from June 1 to August 31, 2022, has been encouraging. 52,000,000 “9 euro tickets” have been sold and given the possibility for many low-income Germans to travel for free to popular summer holiday destinations such as the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, Bavaria and the Forest- Black. Of course, the suffering was not lacking for the workers who travel daily for professional reasons, because the trains were often suffocating.

The environmental benefits are rather obvious, although the evidence is still insufficient. Early estimates after the “9 euro ticket” experiment indicated that although train travel increased significantly, car travel did not decrease accordingly. It is assumed that many drivers bought a “9 euro ticket” to secure an additional option of economical transport, but without leaving their car.

Germany: unlimited rides, almost free-1

At the end of 2022, total CO2 emissions in Germany not only did not decrease, but actually increased, reaching 148 million tonnes. However, the German Public Transport Association (VDV) in its memorandum, published last summer, claims that only the introduction of the “9 euro ticket” for 3 months has led to a reduction in CO2 emissions of 1.8 million tons.

The question of funding is also a major issue. Last year’s experience cost the state budget 2.5 billion euros and everyone agrees that a return to the “9 euro note” is not sustainable. Various proposals were heard, from 19 to 69 euros for the new “pass” in public transport and finally the golden number was found at 49 euros. There were also political reactions, as Finance Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats (FDP) Christian Lindner, who is doing all he can to limit Germany’s growing public debt, was initially opposed to the new ” pass”, but he was convinced after suggestions from the Minister of Transport, also Liberal, Volker Vissing.

“Upset” the rich

With such a cheap ticket, everyone can plan their vacation more comfortably, provided they have the necessary patience. Example: If someone lives in Bonn, more or less in the center of Germany, and dreams of a trip to Sylt, the “island of the rich” in the North Sea, he can realize his dream completely free of charge with the public transport “pass”. But it takes patience and planning, as local newspaper General-Anzeiger reported last year, calculating the route at a “€9 ticket”.

The trip starts at 5:48 a.m. in Bonn with five train changes in Cologne, Essen, Osnabrück, Bremen, Hamburg and arrives in Sylt at 5:05 p.m. All this on the condition that all preceding trains are on time, which is rather unlikely.

But there are also those who have the time. Last summer, some groups of punk friends announced via social networks that they would use the cheap ticket to go to Sylt and “antagonize” the rich a bit, some even announced a “protest camp” on the beach of Westerland, its capital island. . Many took it as a joke, but residents of Sylt and regular vacationers did not appreciate the humor.

Eventually, a few punk bands appeared, which from the first moment found themselves under police surveillance. In November 2022, the municipal authority takes stock, estimating that visitors incur costs of 270,000 euros for emergency security measures, cleaning, etc. However, it is not certain that it will be the same this year. One of the punk visitors told the German TV camera that “the island sucks” and he won’t be coming back…

Source: DW

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