For millions of passengers throughout Germany, the 49-euro ticket is intended to make buses and trains cheaper and more attractive – and to arouse the curiosity of many who have not yet customers. After a long dispute over money, the federal and state governments have finally paved the way. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) speaks of the “biggest tariff reform” in the local transport system, which has so far been regional.

But many practical modalities still have to be settled quickly so that the planned start in spring 2023 works.

The consumer advice centers call for the most flexible design possible. The head of the Federal Association (vzbv), Ramona Pop, told the German Press Agency: “We advocate broad access to the 49-euro ticket, which can be bought through all sales channels and which you don’t have to sign up for at least a year have to bind a subscription.” In the meantime, however, one has the impression “that the tugging has not done the project any good”.

You don’t know exactly when the ticket will come and who will get it and how. It looks as if the federal and state governments want to get “the narrowest possible variant” off the ground.

The nationwide public transport ticket is to come in the new year at the introductory price of 49 euros per month and build on the popular 9-euro ticket from the summer. The start date is open, the countries are aiming for April 1st. A digitally bookable, monthly terminable subscription is planned. The federal and state governments had clarified the last financial questions. They want to each bear half of the billions in costs to compensate for loss of revenue in transport companies in 2023.

“The momentum that there was in the summer with the 9-euro ticket has come under the wheels,” said consumer advocate Pop. “If it becomes a digital subscription model, it is not a sign that as many people as possible should use the bus and train. One must not forget that there are households that cannot even take out an annual subscription or do not want to impose this financial obligation on themselves.”

If there is to be a subscription, it needs “a big, thick cancellation button that is also visible. It is required by law and we will look closely at it.”

Other associations are also calling for the new ticket to be offered at machines and sales counters. However, Wissing expressly sees it as an important step towards digitization. Nobody should be excluded, argued the minister. You don’t have to have a smartphone, it could also be a simple chip card.

Unlike paper tickets, however, a digital ticket provides data on how many people travel from where to where at what time. This is important information for more precise planning of the offer.

The price is also discussed. At 49 euros, the ticket will be cheaper for millions of commuters than current monthly tickets and annual subscriptions. “Especially in times when all prices are rising, price containment for mobility is an important project,” said Pop.

However, it is also clear that the 49 euros should be an “introductory price” – later increases are possible. “Because it’s no longer a 9-euro ticket, there must also be an affordable offer for those who don’t have a high income,” said Pop.

Many transport associations have social tickets today. “From our point of view it is necessary that in the next step, which has to be done quickly, there is also a nationwide social ticket for 19 euros.”

The industry is preparing a major operation for implementation. Because unlike the limited 9-euro special campaign, it is now about a permanent and almost complete system change in the entire local transport tariff, as the Association of German Transport Companies explained. So far, there have been various fares and conditions depending on the region. For this reason, tariff regulations, sales processes, controls and the distribution of income must be reorganized across the republic. A large information campaign is also to be carried out before the start.

The expectations of a strong impulse for the “public” are high. “There is more to a real turnaround in local transport than just a new ticket,” said Pop. This also includes a further expansion of the infrastructure and the offer.

The consumer centers are pushing for more reliability and extended passenger rights. “Unfortunately, the past few months have shown that Deutsche Bahn and its infrastructure are in a devastating state,” said Pop. Problems with delays have increased drastically.

“In view of this, the right to compensation should already take effect in the event of a 30-minute delay,” affirmed the head of the association. Here one could work unbureaucratically with 10-euro vouchers We’ve been waiting for years.” Passengers who are delayed at their destination by more than 60 minutes are currently entitled to compensation of 25 percent of the fare.

Author: Sascha Meyer (dpa)

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The original of this post “How customer-friendly is the 49-euro ticket?” comes from Deutsche Welle.