9-euro ticket hasn't changed how much people use their cars, studies suggest
Touted as a cost-saving measure to relieve people from high energy bills, and as a means to encourage people to ditch driving in favour of public transport, there were a lot of hopes pinned on the 9-euro ticket. However, initial studies on the scheme’s impact have drawn a decidedly mixed picture.
9-euro ticket had incredibly successful marketing campaign
One thing’s certain: the 9-euro ticket has fulfilled its mission of drumming up publicity for public transport in Germany, and encouraging people to use trains, S-bahns, U-bahns and buses. A little over two months after its launch, Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing has rated the scheme a success.
Last month, the Association of German Transport Companies reported the results of a survey that found that 98 percent of respondents had heard of the 9-euro ticket, while two-thirds said they were very familiar with it. In July, more than 30 million people owned the ticket, including those who already had some kind of monthly or annual season ticket.
Clearly, therefore, the marketing campaign went well, but what about the ticket’s other ambitions? Some studies are beginning to dig a little bit deeper into the scheme’s impact.
Mobility increased across Germany, but lots of journeys were “extra”
Initial investigations show that mobility certainly increased as a result of the 9-euro ticket. Transport associations reported anecdotally that certain routes were much busier than usual, while an evaluation of data from mobile phones by the Federal Statistical Office found that nationwide movements by train in June 2022 were on average 42 percent higher than in June 2019.
However, it’s not clear whether many of these journeys had a displacing effect - that is, that they were made with public transport where previously a car would have been used. The VDV recently concluded that around a quarter of journeys made via public transport over the last two months would not have been made without the ticket. They are therefore “additional journeys” and not substitutes for ones that would have been made by car.
“From the previous studies, only a slight shift from the road to public transport of at best 2 to 3 percent can be seen," Christian Böttger, a rail expert at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW), told Der Spiegel.
According to Philipp Kosok, a public transport project manager at the Agora Verkehrswende interest group, the initial data suggests that the 9-euro ticket simply generated more traffic, rather than shifting it. This could mean that the ticket actually had a negative climate impact. “There are indications that we have no clear climate advantage with this action,” he told dpa.
Another study from Munich found that 35 percent of test participants travelled more frequently by bus and train with the 9-euro ticket, but that only 3 percent used their own vehicles less often. At the same time, however, researchers noted that traffic jams decreased by around 3 percent in the area.
The study’s authors also pointed out that the data looks a lot different around the largest German cities than it does in less densely populated areas. Results from the University of Kassel show that a higher proportion of people bought the 9-euro ticket in large cities than they did outside of big urban areas.
9-euro ticket helps to integrate public transport in people’s everyday lives
Overall, however, the head of the Munich study - Klaus Bogenberger from the Technical University of Munich - drew a positive conclusion, telling dpa that the scheme had allowed many people to “[integrate] public transport into their everyday lives.”
A study in Dresden found that there was significant appetite among the public for a follow-up ticket, and that most people would be willing to spend somewhere between 60 and 90 euros for a similar kind of ticket.