Germany clears the way for new nationwide transport pass

Nov 1, 2022, 11:29 PM | Updated: Nov 2, 2022, 12:10 pm

BERLIN (AP) — German officials cleared the way on Wednesday for a public transport pass costing 49 euros ($48.50) per month that will be valid nationwide, a long-term follow-up to a super-cheap ticket that was available for three months this summer and proved wildly popular.

Transport Minister Volker Wissing said representatives of the federal government and Germany’s 16 states resolved financing questions at a meeting in Berlin. He said the new “Deutschlandticket,” or “Germany ticket,” will be introduced “as quickly as technically possible,” hopefully at the beginning of 2023.

In June, July and August, Germany sold a “9-euro ticket” enabling people to use regional train, bus and tram networks across the country for only 9 euros a month. It was part of efforts to help combat inflation stoked by Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as encouraging people to switch to environmentally friendly public transport and reducing gasoline use.

There were widespread calls for some kind of successor at a more sustainable cost. A major attraction was its validity on all Germany’s regional transport networks, each of which have myriad fare options that can be hard to navigate.

The aim is for the new ticket to be paperless and available for a single month or as a rolling pass. Like its predecessor, it won’t be valid for intercity trains — though, with creativity and plenty of patience, it’s possible to make long-distance journeys using regional trains.

Germany’s federal government offered to subsidize the new ticket with 1.5 billion euros annually; states several weeks ago expressed a willingness to do the same, pending an agreement on federal funding for regional train services.

Under Wednesday’s agreement, that funding is being increased by 1 billion euros this year and will grow by 3% per year thereafter, Wissing said.

That was short of states’ original ask. Hendrik Wuest, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, said it was the “absolute minimum” needed to keep up current services and some of his colleagues were even more critical.

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Germany clears the way for new nationwide transport pass