Encouraged by the response to the flat-fee 9-euro ticket for all forms of public transport across entire Germany, the German government has taken the expected decision to extend the offer, though the price would be set at a higher level in order to make it economically viable for the public transportation system, notably the German national railway firm, Deutsche Bahn.
According to media reports, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz has thrown his weight behind the proposal due to the good response the initial proposal received and also to protect the German consumers from the impact of record inflation, mainly due to high energy and food costs.
The 9-euro ticket that was launched in June received widespread response and though the data for the full period of June-August is yet to be made public, it is expected that well over 40 million such monthly tickets have been sold. It enabled travellers to make use of all forms of public transport apart from high-speed long-distance trains during an entire month for a fixed fee.
The flat-fee public transport ticket has also helped in restoring passenger numbers on DB Regio trains. According to DB, the 9-euro ticket resulted in, 10 to 15 pc more travellers in June when compared to the period before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the company also points out that demand varies per region, day of the week and time of day. DB adds that the flat-fee tickets have been particularly popular with wanting to taking their bicycle. In the first two week alone, around 1 million cyclist boarded trains across Germany.
“Germany introduced the 9-Euro-Ticket to help ease the energy crisis and further the choice of sustainable means of transport. On basis of reports by the association for Germany’s transport companies, it was found about 3 pc chose public transit over car. As of August, about 38 million people bought Germany’s 9-Euro-Ticket, according to Deutsche Bahn (DB), Germany’s national railway. In many places, ridership rebounded to pre-Covid-19 levels. The 9-euro ticket component was majorly used for leisure, including some passengers who took trips they otherwise might not have been able to afford,” Romit Theophilus, Director, German National Tourist Office tells India Outbound.
“Definitely the 9-euro project was a huge success and there is widespread agreement that it has triggered a welcome buzz around public transport – seizing a valuable opportunity at a time when people have been keen to make up for two summers lost to the Covid pandemic,” says Theophilus.
Ever since it was launched, the measure has been closely observed not just in Germany but across the world for its impact on sustainability. Though the final data is still awaited, Theophilus says the initial data is encouraging. “The studies on the impact of the ticket are still ongoing, but one report in Munich showed car congestion in the city had decreased by 3 pc just in days, from May to June, and another, by the association for Germany’s transport companies, found about 3 percent chose public transit over car. But the affordability, and the simplicity of travel, all made the 9-Euro-Ticket extremely popular,” he adds.
For the new scheme that has reportedly been approved by Schulz, most reports suggest that the new price of the monthly pass could be somewhere between EUR 49-69, mainly to ensure its durability and that it does not put unrealistic pressure on the train operator. But whatever the price, the scheme is something that needs to be copied elsewhere and there are already signs of other nations taking note of the German success. Recently, the Spanish government and Renfe began offering free quarterly train passes to the disadvantaged sections of the society.
It is time that many more countries need to step up and help people choose sustainable transport and where railway trumps everything else, except bicycles. Theophilus says that in due course, even the impact on carbon emission reductions as a result of the promotional scheme would be publicised, but that there is little doubt about which is the most eco-friendly transport option.
“It is to early to comment on the reduction of CO2 emissions or people shifting towards sustainable mobility. But it is important to highlight that all long-distance Deutsche Bahn trains already run on 100 pc renewable power. And train journeys are perfect for seamless, eco-friendly, experience-oriented travel, not to mention a stress-free journey to the destination and a relaxing stay,” says Theophilus.