For months, the federal and state governments have been arguing about the when, how and where of the 49-euro monthly ticket for buses and trains in regional transport. On Friday they made a breakthrough - at least in essential questions: The nationwide subscription for local public transport (ÖPNV) should come on May 1st. The start of sales of the so-called Deutschlandticket is therefore April 3rd. Nevertheless, some points of contention remain open. And the whole project could fail. An overview.
The 49-euro monthly ticket for public transport is the successor to the 9-euro ticket that expired last summer. With it, holders can use regional buses and trains nationwide - for 49 euros a month. Above all, the offer is intended to simplify the confusing offer structure of the numerous transport associations in Germany and bring more people into public transport. The ticket is valid for one month at a time and will be automatically extended if the holder does not give notice in good time.
After months of dispute, the federal and state governments have reached an agreement at the meeting of a joint working group. "What many wish for will become reality on May 1st," said the chairman of the conference of transport ministers, NRW transport minister Oliver Krischer (Greens), afterwards. Not only has progress been made on these issues, "but a final agreement has been reached on the really important points," emphasized the minister.
Both sides also decided on the so-called job ticket: According to this, employers have the option of providing their employees with the 49-euro ticket as a job ticket. If they grant a discount of at least 25 percent, the federal and state governments will add a further discount of five percent. In this way, employees could get the ticket for at least 30 percent less. The federal states and the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) see this as an important means of attracting even more passengers to public transport. There are already several million job ticket holders, said VDV general manager Oliver Wolff recently.
There was also agreement on a bureaucratic detail: the new tariff will initially not be approved by the regionally responsible authorities - as is usually the case - but rather uniformly by the federal legislature. This means there are no black spots in terms of validity, because tariff approval is still pending here and there.
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) called the agreement on Friday afternoon a "good signal for all the people who are urgently waiting for the ticket to be introduced". Baden-Württemberg's Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens) also expressed his satisfaction. "It's good that we've made a big step forward," he said. "The remaining questions should be processed as quickly as possible so that the 1st mail works as a starting date in any case."
This could still fail:
Because the federal government compensates the transport companies for their loss of sales from the 49-euro ticket with billions of euros, the project affects state aid issues at EU level. The federal government is currently in contact with the Commission, which still has to approve the whole thing. If there is no green light from Brussels, this should mean the temporary end for the 49-euro ticket.
The digital ticket: According to VMK chairman Krischer, the question of how the ticket will reach the subscribers is still unresolved. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) calls for an exclusively digital solution. A QR code in the app or a chip card on which the data is stored digitally would be conceivable. But not all transport associations can offer these digital options. The VDV and the federal states had therefore called for paper tickets to be allowed, at least for an interim solution.
The federal and state governments agreed on Friday that this paper solution should only be available temporarily until the end of the year for associations that are at least technically capable of issuing chip cards and only need a little time to do so. Prerequisite: The paper format must also be readable digitally, for example via a QR code. But what about the associations that have no digital options at all? According to Krischer, this question remained open.
In a few weeks at the latest, the federal and state governments will meet again at the conference of transport ministers. It is quite conceivable that the topic will play a role again.