A cheap local transport ticket for the whole country, a significant tax cut for fuel: With the first energy price shock shortly after the start of the Ukraine war, many things were suddenly possible. But that’s over now – successor regulations are not yet in sight.

Mobility is becoming significantly more expensive again for many people in Germany. In the night from Wednesday to Thursday, both the 9-euro ticket for bus and train and the so-called tank discount, a reduction in energy taxes on fuel to the minimum permissible in the EU, expired.

From midnight on September 1st, the old tax rates will apply again for petrol and diesel. Including VAT, the price for premium E10 petrol will increase by 35 cents per liter and 17 cents more per liter for diesel. However, the lower tax rates also applied to gas station operators – so some of them are likely to have fuel they bought cheaply, which they can also sell at a correspondingly lower price. In the early hours of the morning, fuel prices in the largest cities in Germany have already risen significantly, according to official ADAC figures (as of 6:29 a.m.).

Super E10

Diesel

Super

The prices for petrol and diesel are likely to rise again significantly when the tank discount ends – but when and how much is still unclear. “We will certainly see a mixture of high and low prices in the coming days and weeks,” says J├╝rgen Albrecht, fuel price expert at ADAC. The price differences depending on the region and time of day are already in the double-digit cent range. “Initially it will be even more.”

The Federal Association of Independent Petrol Stations (BFT) expects a significant increase in the early morning hours of September 1st. “I assume that we will initially see a large price premium,” said the association’s chairman Duraid El Obeid of the German Press Agency. “Over the course of the day and in the coming days, however, this will certainly melt away again when competitive effects set in.”

The Bundeskartellamt announced on Tuesday that it would closely monitor the pricing of gas stations after September 1st. After all, competition in the fuel market doesn’t work particularly well, said Andreas Mundt, president of the agency. At the start of the tax cut, there were sometimes heated discussions as to whether the corporations would really pass on the benefit in full to customers.

“In the overall balance, we find that the tax reduction has not fully reached the consumer,” says ADAC expert Albrecht. The high prices cannot be fully explained by various special factors – the consequences of the war, the weak euro, the low water level in the Rhine and the associated high transport costs.

Without the fuel price tax reduction, refueling would have been significantly more expensive in the past three months. There is no doubt about that, says Prof. Manuel Frondel from the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research – and yet he hardly leaves a good hair on the tank discount. “The low prices mean that people drive more – which is ecologically counterproductive.”

Added to this is the unfair distribution, according to Frondel. After all, those who have several cars and drive them a lot, tend to benefit from the tax cut, i.e. households with high and middle incomes. “Low-income households, on the other hand, often don’t have a car at all and therefore don’t benefit from the tool at all.”

With the 9-euro ticket, the balance of many players and experts is much more positive. The response from the population was great: According to the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), 52 million tickets were sold, plus 10 million cheaper subscriptions.

From September 1st, the old, mostly significantly higher prices will be due for monthly tickets again. There is also a risk of further increases in the near future: high costs for electricity and diesel are also a burden for many transport companies – and in many cases are likely to affect fares. In some regions, surcharges of 3, 4 or almost 5 percent have already been decided.

Unlike the tank discount, the discussion about a successor plan for the 9-euro ticket has long been in full swing – as a 29, 49 or 69-euro ticket, for example. The sticking point, however, is not so much the price as the financing: Because the federal states are demanding above all an improvement in the basic offer in local transport: more infrastructure, more staff, more vehicles. And for that you need more money.