Actually, passengers should have been traveling with the “Deutschlandticket” since January 1st – but the flat rate for buses and trains is still months away. What’s left to do.
Passengers on buses and trains in local transport may have to wait even longer for the planned 49-euro ticket. After a delay of several months, Bremen’s mobility senator Maike Schaefer (Greens) also believes that the intended introduction by May 1 at the latest is not guaranteed. Detailed questions are therefore still unclear. The SPD faction warned at the weekend: “The Germany ticket must come as soon as possible and without further ado.”
Group deputy Detlef Müller told the German Press Agency: “The Ministry of Transport, the federal states and associations have to work flat out on the implementation instead of fighting further on detailed questions. People expect a cheap and easy solution.”
Last summer, millions of passengers used the 9-euro ticket during a three-month discount campaign. As a permanent successor, a nationwide ticket for 49 euros per month for buses and trains in local and regional transport is planned.
“But for the timely start on May 1, 2023, we need more compromises and solidarity – and a federal minister who does not block implementation,” said Bremen Senator Schaefer after a working meeting on Friday. As recently as autumn, the transport ministers, under their presidency, had aimed for an introduction in January, but the preparations are dragging on. Many questions have not yet been clarified.
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) insists on a digital ticket. However, there is a demand from the federal states to also offer paper tickets at least temporarily. “We cannot exclude those who are not yet digitally fit,” Saarland Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD) told the “RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland” (Saturday). Schaefer accuses Wissing of blocking the issue.
The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) points out that political decisions are still pending. “The federal government has to deliver here.” The nationwide tariff approval and an amendment to the regionalization law are necessary. According to Schaefer, the Federal Council should decide on this on March 31st. On April 3rd, passengers should be able to buy the ticket and drive with it from May 1st – that’s the plan. Approval from the EU is still required. There is also no provision for revenue sharing.
Implementation is the responsibility of the federal states and the transport companies. After skepticism grew about the most recently targeted start date of April 1st, Minister Wissing recently made it clear: “For me, it’s clear that no later than May 1st.” Schaefer and Müller make it clear that this is a major effort for bus and train operators by pointing out that a paper ticket will help smaller transport companies that cannot quickly switch to digital tickets. However, the VDV emphasizes: “The industry would be ready to go by May 1st.” .
The 49-euro ticket is intended as a subscription, and depending on the region, subscribers can take children, dogs or bicycles with them. SPD man Müller called for flexibility during the introductory phase of the Deutschlandticket. “Until a nationwide regulation is found, it should be checked whether the previous local regulations for local transport subscriptions can apply on a transitional basis.”
In order for the federal states to participate in the flat rate, the federal government wants to assume half of the additional costs in the first year; for the following years, however, a common regulation is still pending. And the federal government has increased the annual subsidy, the regionalization funds, by one billion. However, Schaefer renewed the state requirement of an additional 1.5 billion euros so that climate targets in traffic are not missed.
Buses and trains in Germany are chronically lacking money. According to industry information, ticket sales only cover about half of the costs, the rest is covered by the public purse. After Corona, high energy prices and probably the 49-euro ticket will continue to put pressure on companies. The federal government put up a Corona rescue package and administered energy aid.