Public transport: why it will still take a long time until the 49-euro ticket

Whenever it comes, the 49-euro ticket: As a rapid successor to its 9-euro predecessor from last summer, the transport offer is long since too late.

Public transport: why it will still take a long time until the 49-euro ticket

Whenever it comes, the 49-euro ticket: As a rapid successor to its 9-euro predecessor from last summer, the transport offer is long since too late. The transport industry considers a start on May 1st to be realistic, as the heads of the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) reaffirmed on Tuesday. But there are doubts that even this late date can be achieved - for example by Bremen's Senator for Transport Maike Schaefer (Greens).

On the one hand, this is due to things that the industry can hardly influence, such as the pending approval of the EU Commission. But it is also due to the jagged structure of local public transport in Germany, which complicates many questions.

VDV: Paper solution as a transition

Example of digitization: Federal Minister of Transport Volker Wissing (FDP) wants the 49-euro subscription for regional transport to be offered and controlled exclusively in digital form. Chip cards or mobile phone tickets are conceivable. But by no means all of the numerous transport associations in Germany can offer this option. "In many network rooms you still get the paper scraps every month," said VDV President Ingo Wortmann on Tuesday.

And even associations with their own apps often do not offer the option of taking out a subscription via mobile phone. Appropriate updates are required. From the point of view of the VDV President, a paper ticket solution is therefore necessary for the 49-euro subscription at least until the end of the year. "Otherwise we wouldn't be able to sell everyone who wants a ticket at the beginning," he emphasized.

This could also mean that the customer data is stored digitally with the associations and that the subscribers are temporarily issued a paper ticket. A nationwide uniform solution with chip cards or mobile phone tickets is then needed.

Is a patchwork quilt looming?

Another example is tariff approval. "In public transport, we can only drive with approved tariffs," explained VDV general manager Oliver Wolff. "As a rule, this is done regionally by the regional councils." The association calls for a nationwide uniform permit. Otherwise a patchwork quilt threatens. "We definitely don't want there to be any rooms in which the ticket is not valid or cannot be sold because the tariff approval fails," emphasized association president Wortmann.

The numerous and differently sized transport associations also complicates the distribution of income. In the first forecasts, the VDV assumes that more than eleven million public transport subscription customers will change their tariff and switch to the cheap 49-euro ticket. This results in losses for the companies, which the federal government will compensate for in the first year.

But then the question will also be how the unequal income from the sale of the 49-euro ticket can be shared among the companies. After all, large associations or Deutsche Bahn with well-functioning digital offers should sell significantly more tickets than a small association without its own app.

Clarifying questions takes time

The clarification of all these questions takes a lot of time. Not all will be cleared or resolved by ticket launch. The deputy head of the Union parliamentary group, Ulrich Lange, even expressed the fear that the project could fail completely in the planned form. "In the end, the countries will find their own solutions," he told the "Augsburger Allgemeine". This means that the traffic light government's desire for a nationwide, affordable public transport ticket is a long way off. "So the 49-euro ticket quickly becomes a scam ticket," said the CSU politician.

The VDV is much more confident. The industry is working flat out on its own challenges, emphasized Wolff and Wortmann. But the federal government still has to deliver. In addition to the approval of the commission, an amendment to the regionalization law is also missing.

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