The popular 9-euro tickets are history. And for millions of commuters and subscribers, fares for buses and trains will jump back to old heights for the time being. Was that it? The success of the relief action has triggered some expectations - and pressure for a similarly tempting follow-up solution based on the bestseller. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is now relying on speedy clarifications with the federal states. Declared goal: a permanently attractive and affordable offer for local public transport. Whether a new ticket could possibly come for 29, 49 or 69 euros should only be lashed down at the very end.
Wissing told the German Press Agency: "We know that we have triggered an enthusiasm for public transport that has probably never existed in Germany before." These are reasons to take the next step quickly. The digital offer and the nationwide validity of the 9-euro tickets triggered something that had not previously been sufficiently considered: "Namely, how attractive a simple ticket is for people."
The summer campaign to relieve passengers of increased energy costs ended on Wednesday. In June, July and August, the 9-euro tickets enabled travel on buses and trains throughout Germany for one month. According to industry information, around 52 million tickets were sold. The federal government financed the campaign with 2.5 billion euros to compensate for the loss of income from transport providers.
What is already known - and what is not
"It was clear from the start that this 9-euro ticket, which was an extremely cheap fare in an extreme situation, could not be maintained in the long term," said Wissing. But it is important to him not to dismiss this as an experiment, but to draw the right lessons. "I am pleased that, unlike in spring, I no longer see resistance everywhere, but broad support to take a major reform step in public transport together."
The timetable: Wissing made it clear that the order of considerations should not be the first to name a price. Only deliver an invoice at the end. "If you say a ticket price is set and the rest has to be adjusted, then you don't get an optimal reform." So the first question is what a ticket should look like: “How should it be valid, how can it be purchased? Should it be a monthly ticket or a ticket that you buy as an annual subscription? Should there be only one tariff or several tariffs ?"
The building blocks: Looking at the example of the 9-euro ticket, Wissing said: "Of course it's great that you can buy the ticket anywhere and go anywhere with it. That's something particularly valuable, which makes it extremely easy to use. It should must also be a ticket that is as digital as possible." Differentiated prices are also being discussed as options, such as a cheaper tariff for certain population groups. A ticket for all of Germany could cost more than one for just one state or two countries.
The finances: So that a follow-up ticket can be cheaper than normal tickets, extra money from the state has to be added. So far, the federal and state governments have primarily assigned each other responsibility for this. After initially rejecting signals, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) now indicated that the federal government could be on board - with an as yet unspecified "fraction" of 14 billion euros, which would cost an extended 9-euro ticket per year. And, secondly, if the countries participated. Wissing indicated that there could be scope for sales costs, which add up to two billion euros a year for the federal states. "We also have the opportunity to save money through digitization and simplified tariffs."
The next stages: How quickly a new offer will come about is an open question - the 9-euro ticket ended up being organized more quickly than many people thought. "I can't yet say exactly when such a ticket could be implemented and on what date," explained Wissing. He is always ready to talk to the countries. A special conference of transport ministers is to follow on September 19, followed by a regular consultation in mid-October. The campaign organization Campact has already addressed the leaders of the SPD, FDP and Greens: A 365-euro annual ticket must be included if the coalition committee decides on another relief package.
Public transport financing: What makes it difficult is that the project is part of a general struggle for more money. "It's good that the FDP is finally moving and giving up its blockade," said North Rhine-Westphalia's Transport Minister Oliver Krischer (Greens) to the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger". However, the federal government is responsible for financing a 9-euro ticket successor as well as for increasing the regionalization funds. The states order services from transport providers. And because of rising costs, one is faced with huge challenges anyway, only to receive the previous public transport offer, Krischer warned. Normally, 9.4 billion euros will come from Berlin this year, plus another billion from another pot.