Germany’s €9 monthly travel ticket hailed for leading to car use

ByRochelle W. Stone

Aug 30, 2022
As Germany’s three-month Affordable Mobility Experience comes to an end, figures show that many of those who bought the €9 monthly ticket were using train and bus options instead of cars. Transport officials and commuters are now calling for the single campaign to continue. Christoph Soeder/dpa

After tens of millions in ticket sales, Germany’s mobility experiment giving travelers unrestricted access to regional and city trains and buses has been seen as a success in reducing the number of people driving cars.

The €9 ($9) monthly ticket, which allowed people to use all of Germany’s regional and local transport networks – but not the high-speed trains – in June, July and August, sold 52 million times across the country, transportation officials said.

The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), announcing the final count at the end of the three months of reduced mobility costs, hailed the campaign as a complete success.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has praised his government’s €9 travel pass, calling it “one of the best ideas we’ve had”, in early August.

Against the backdrop of rising fuel prices, inflation rates, climate change and car-crowded urban spaces, the ticket was introduced in June as a historic one-time experience designed to help citizens reduce costs.

In addition, Berlin wants to encourage people to turn to public transport in the interest of climate protection.

Indeed, a recent survey showed that nearly one in three people used the ticket to travel on routes they normally took by car.

Some 31% of adults said they frequently used the promotional ticket on routes they would otherwise have taken by car, according to a YouGov survey conducted for dpa. A further 18% said they had completely replaced their vehicle with local public transport.

In contrast, 22% rarely used the discounted ticket on journeys where they would otherwise have traveled by car.

According to the survey, 28% of Germans have bought a €9 ticket at least once. A further 22% already had a local transport subscription and benefited from a corresponding reduction.

VDV officials are part of a chorus of people in Germany who are now asking for a quick tracking solution for the ticket. “If we are serious about transport transition and climate change, we must act now,” said VDV chief executive Oliver Wolff.

Environmental groups have also called for the experiment to be made permanent, given the likelihood of reduced carbon emissions due to fewer cars on the roads.

According to a study by Greenpeace, the change in mobility linked to maintaining such an affordable ticket would reduce CO2 emissions by 2 to 6 million tonnes per year, given the assumption that such a ticket would increase the incentive to travel. longer distances by regional trains and not by car.

At the same time, households would save between €224 and €474 per month with such a ticket, compared to the exclusive use of a car.

Affordable mobility has also impacted a wide variety of journeys, and was not just limited to daily commuters ditching their car for bus and train.

According to the survey, one in two uses the €9 ticket mainly for private journeys. Just under a quarter of respondents used it primarily for commuting to work, while an equal number used it primarily for sightseeing trips and excursions.

The survey results showed that the majority of Germans – 55% – only want to continue using public transport regularly if a similarly priced ticket becomes available again.

Despite calls for more affordable mobility, transit costs are initially expected to return to previous levels.

Monthly travel tickets usually cost several times as much as €9 (a standard monthly Berlin city transport ticket costs €86) and, unlike the €9 limited ticket, are only valid within one German city or region.