GERMANY: Deal on keeping Germany-wide transit pass, but future price unclear

Nov. 8, 2023
Germany's nationwide flat-rate monthly transit pass will continue to exist, following a tentative agreement struck between Chancellor Olaf Scholz's center-left government and state premiers.

Berlin — Germany's nationwide flat-rate monthly transit pass will continue to exist, following a tentative agreement struck between Chancellor Olaf Scholz's centre-left government and state premiers.

But questions remain about whether a steep price hike might be in store for the so-called "Deutschlandticket," which currently costs €49 ($52) per month and allows unlimited use of buses, trams, subways and regional trains anywhere in the country.

The German government introduced the flat-rate transit pass in hopes of reducing car use, boosting ridership on public transport and giving riders a break in a year marked by high inflation.

But there has been squabbling among local transit authorities, the railways, state governments and Berlin over just how to pay for the package, which is heavily subsidized and undercut ticket revenue for local bus and train operators.

For the first year, Germany's federal government and the 16 states agreed to both contribute €1.5 billion to offset the costs. Future funding arrangements for 2024 and beyond, however, remain undecided.

According to a forecast by the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), operating losses from the Deutschlandticket are expected to amount to €2.3 billion in 2023 and rise to €4.1 billion in 2024.

The Deutschlandticket has been largely popular with riders and politicians, and officials at the meeting with Scholz from both the right and the left expressed broad support for keeping it.

But Oliver Krischer, the state transport minister from the large western state of North Rhine Westphalia, warned that price increases might be necessary as early as May without an injection of new funding.

Consumer and environmental advocates, however, warned that price increases would damage the appeal of the monthly ticket and undermine the goal of getting more people on public transit.

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