Germany's 49-euro ticket coming 2023: What you need to know
It’s official: early next year Germany will welcome a follow-up to the 9-euro ticket. The nationwide monthly ticket - dubbed the “Deutschlandticket” - will offer unlimited travel on regional and public transport for just 49 euros per month. Here’s what we know so far about the 49-euro ticket, and what still has to be decided.
The 49-euro ticket (Deutschlandticket) is coming
At a summit between the federal government and the federal states last week, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the state premiers finally came to an agreement over a number of financing issues, paving the way for the introduction of the 49-euro ticket as well as the gas price cap early next year.
Describing the move as the largest tariff reform ever for public transport in Germany, and a first within Europe, Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing said that the ticket would help to make public transport a permanently more attractive option than driving, especially for commuters. He said that, by offering nationwide access to public and regional transport networks, the ticket would help rid the country of the “tariff zone jungle” that exists across different regions.
“Never before has it been so easy for people in our country to use the bus and the train,” Wissing told a press conference last week.
What is the 49-euro ticket and how will it work?
The 49-euro ticket is designed to be a follow-up to the wildly successful 9-euro ticket, which was sold 52 million times over the summer - albeit a more expensive version.
The ticket will be offered digitally as a subscription that can be cancelled monthly, meaning users are not locked into an annual subscription, as is often the case with season tickets. It’s not clear whether it will also be available as a paper ticket from ticket machines, but the subscription model makes this seem unlikely.
Where and on what forms of transport is the Deutschlandticket valid?
As with the 9-euro ticket, the Deutschlandticket will permit the holder unlimited travel on regional and public transport across the whole of Germany - including buses, trams, U-bahns, S-bahns and regional trains, but not long-distance trains like ICs, ICEs and ECs run by Deutsche Bahn.
It’s not yet clear whether the offer will also include long-distance bus services. FlixBus, one of the major providers of coach services in Germany, has criticised the fact that it was left out of the 9-euro ticket offer, and is reportedly in talks with the federal government to make its bus services, which connect scores of German cities, part of the scheme.
It’s also not clear whether the ticket will allow holders to also bring a bike on the train or S-bahn with them. This was not covered by the 9-euro ticket.
Will the cost stay at 49 euros per month?
So far, the 49-euro price tag has only been confirmed as an “introductory offer”, which will initially last two years. At this point, the price would be adjusted in line with inflation, likely making it more expensive. Ministers explained that price rises would help to maintain the scheme - otherwise rising costs would see services being cut, which would defeat the point of the ticket.
Some, including Germany’s Sozialverband, have criticised the ticket as too expensive and renewed calls for a cheaper 365-euro annual ticket - but the fact remains that, with some local transport passes costing in excess of 80 or even 100 euros per month, the ticket will provide relief to many regular passengers.
In an interview with the Rheinische Post, Wissing defended the price, describing it as “highly attractive” and “well below what most people pay for public transport today.” He added that individual federal states might also decide to provide additional discounts, for example for students or people claiming social security benefits. Stephan Weil, state premier for Lower Saxony, has already announced he will do this.
When will the discounted public transport pass be available?
When the scheme was announced, Wissing said that the government was aiming to make the ticket available for early next year - perhaps as soon as January 2023. The Association of German Transport Companies, which represents transport associations across the country, said to dpa that starting on January 1 would be desirable but looked increasingly impossible, as legislation and the framework for the new subscription model need to be introduced - which is more complicated than simply putting a paper ticket on sale, as was the case with the 9-euro ticket.
The general consensus, as expressed by the state premier of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, is therefore that spring 2023 is looking more likely. March 1, 2023 has been touted as a more realistic start date.
Whenever the scheme starts, tickets would likely go on sale around two weeks beforehand - so stay tuned for announcements!
What happens to my existing annual subscription (Abo)?
It’s not yet 100 percent clear what will happen for passengers who already have existing season tickets (Abonnements or Abos). It seems likely that transport companies will allow season ticket holders to switch to the Deutschlandticket so they don’t miss out - as was the case with the 9-euro ticket. The transport association for Munich, MVG, has said that it will take care of this matter in a timely manner and allow existing customers to switch as easily as possible if the 49-euro ticket is better for them.
Who is funding the 49-euro ticket?
The scheme is estimated to cost around 3 billion euros - half of which is coming from the federal government, and the other half from the federal states. This ties in with grander plans to invest heavily in public transportation in the coming years, with the federal government having pledged to set aside an additional 1 billion euros per year for regional expansion, a sum which will increase by 3 percent per year thereafter.