A successor to the 9-euro ticket is to come. The question of price leads to a debate. Transport economist Christian Böttger explains why he considers the continuation of the 9-euro ticket to be irresponsible.

A successor to the 9-euro ticket, which was only available until the end of August, has been demanded for weeks. For a long time, the FDP opposed it. Now FDP Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing is apparently ready to negotiate. When it comes to the question of how much a possible successor should cost, however, the ideas of the parties differ.

The SPD proposes a nationwide valid public transport ticket for 49 euros per month. The federal and state governments should each bear half of the costs, according to the SPD draft. In addition to the nationwide 49-euro ticket, the Greens propose a 29-euro state ticket. Both are to be financed by abolishing the company car privilege.

The association of transport companies presented the proposal for a 69-euro ticket. The State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Michael Theurer (FDP), was recently open to a 69-euro ticket.

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Christian Böttger, transport economist and professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, does not think much of the proposals: “The continuation of the 9-euro ticket would be irresponsible,” he says in an interview with FOCUS online. Regardless of the price, the transport economist is against subsidizing a uniform public transport ticket: For him, practical, financial and climate policy reasons speak against the continuation.

Because the effects of the 9-euro ticket are not only positive: “The train has reached its limit with the 9-euro ticket: the employees are worn down by the congestion on the train. Every day people are left standing and there are more and more physical fights,” says Böttger.

When it comes to establishing a successor model, the federal government faces a major task: “For the successor, you would have to completely convert a huge system or actually throw it in the bin,” says Böttger. The municipalities are currently responsible for local transport, while long-distance transport is financed by the federal government via the states. Only when the system has been restructured can it be estimated how high the costs will be: “If the federal government were sensible, it would first have to wait and see how much the restructuring would cost. I find it irresponsible how politicians are pushing this idea without saying what it will cost to implement it,” says the transport economist.

According to Böttger, the consequences of a uniform ticket have not been sufficiently thought through: the successor model could be more expensive for students than the current semester ticket. “Currently, students use the semester ticket for 30 to 40 euros a month. If politicians introduce a nationwide ticket for 49 euros, then they won’t get a semester ticket through in a vote,” says Böttger.

The semester ticket is often part of the semester fees, although many students rarely travel by train. “With a 49-euro ticket, which would not automatically be included in the semester fee, Deutsche Bahn would lose a million customers,” says the transport economist. Because if the public transport ticket were no longer automatically included in the semester fee, many students would forgo the offer of a 49-euro ticket, says Böttger.

According to the federal government, the planned relief measures should primarily benefit low-income earners and people affected by inflation: “With a 49-euro ticket, this argument would be complete nonsense. 49 euros would certainly be too much for low earners,” says Böttger. In his opinion, targeted offers for low-income earners would make more sense.

The Association of Transport Companies (VGV) draws a positive balance of the 9-euro ticket: According to this, 10 percent of trips with the 9-euro ticket are said to have replaced a trip that would otherwise have been made by car. According to the VGV, 1.8 million tons of CO2 have been saved – almost as much as a speed limit of 130 km/h on motorways would bring in a whole year. However, the transport economist Böttger has doubts: “No full data set has been published in this regard. I have doubts about these figures”.

With a view to the CO2 savings, the 9-euro ticket is disappointing, according to Böttger: “1.8 million tons are said to have been saved for 3.5 billion euros, which would be the equivalent of 1400 euros per ton saved. This is really the worst CO2 measure that has been seen in a long time.”

Public transport has improved in recent decades, but this alone is not enough to change the mind of a significant number of drivers, according to Böttger. “Even if public transport were offered for free, there would not be a serious change in mobility,” says the transport economist.

In his opinion, the money should be put into the further development of the infrastructure: Currently, 2 billion euros a year in federal funds are available for rail expansion. According to Böttger, however, 120 billion are needed for urgent transport projects throughout Germany. “And then I find it irresponsible to spend 2.5 billion for the 9-euro ticket and now maybe 5 billion for a follow-up ticket when there is so little available for the expansion of public transport,” says Böttger.

In order to make public transport more attractive, politicians would have to make driving more expensive and reduce the massive subsidies. “If parking in the city center and the costs of private transport and air transport were to be increased and public transport improved at the same time, the positive impact would be significantly higher than a cheap ticket”. The problem, according to Böttger: “Politicians don’t dare, because that means you lose elections”.