56% of responders said they opted for the ticket because of the low price, Source: Depositphotos

The 9-euro ticket was a success for Germany, research shows. What’s next?

The 9-euro ticket was a success for Germany, research shows. What’s next?

During the time it was active, there were 62 million tickets sold and around 1.8 million tons of CO2 saved

As August is coming to an end, so is the hugely popular German 9-euro ticket – a policy allowing people to buy a month-long ticket for local and cross-state public transport for just 9 euros. The ticket was supposed to help Germans weather the fuel price spike and convince more people to ditch the car in favour of trains, trams and buses.

With the 9-euro ticket set to end at the start of September and no clear successor policy in sight, the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) released the first complete assessment of the ticket’s effects.

According to the research, the 9-euro ticket has been immensely beneficial, saving millions of tons of CO2 and replacing 10% of car trips.

Notably, however, at the start of August, a think tank called Agora Verkehrswende released preliminary data suggesting that the ticket was actually causing more emissions.

The 9-euro ticket’s balance sheet

The VDV conducted massive research to assess the policy's effectiveness, as, during the past three months, experts were able to survey 78,000 people. This is because they conducted 6,000 individual surveys every week.

The low price was the main reason people opted in for the ticket with data showing this was the case for 56% of people. At least 43% said that not driving was their main reason for using it, while a significant portion of the population pointed to the policy’s flexibility because it is valid nationwide.

Many people also said they would continue to use the ticket if it met these criteria and would even be willing to pay a bit more. At the same time, 37% of respondents said they did not use the ticket because it was not useful for them, citing a lack of transport connections. An additional 35% said that motor vehicles were simply more convenient.

Transport authorities sold around 52 million month-long 9-euro tickets while an additional 10 million people received the ticket as part of their long-term public transport subscription. Considering that Germany has a population of 83 million, this would suggest that at least half of the country used the offer at any given month.

The research also specifies that public transport replaced around 10% of car trips and an overall 17% of trips that would have been made with other means. The VDV estimates that the measure reduced around 1.8 million tons of CO2. That is roughly the same effect as if there was a speed limit on autobahns.

Successor policies

There are a number of ideas to introduce a successor policy to the 9-euro ticket in the German Federal Government, with most focusing on affordability and universal nationwide use. Additionally, many major cities have started to create their own policies, as it looks like the Bundestag will fail to introduce legislation before the 9-euro ticket expires.

Additionally, state authorities across Germany have been the main critics of the 9-euro ticket, citing that it is a band-aid solution that does not take into account the rural population or the precarious situation of transport companies, due to high fuel prices. Also, the financing system of the 9-euro ticket does require the states to pick up part of the tab.

However, when the ticket eventually expires in September, the costs for consumers of public transport will jump dramatically, outpacing their pre-9-euro ticket prices, as service providers will have to compensate for the high energy price by themselves.

This is why a number of cities have introduced their own policies of subsidising tickets for public transport. This includes the city of Bonn, where the ticket will cost 19 euros and Berlin, where last week the local Social-Democrat Party (SPD) announced that they would try and push for a 9-euro ticket for local public transport until the federal government comes up with a nationwide policy.

On the federal level, as the ARD reports, a recently leaked draft by the SPD for their party conference on 1 September suggests that they would push for a 49-euro ticket. Additionally, at the start of August, the German Greens proposed a two-tier system and 29 to 49 euro tickets, depending on how far people wanted to travel.  

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