Public Transport Revolution: Germany launches €49 monthly ticket for unlimited countrywide travel

Deutschland-Ticket. (Image Credit: Adobe/Facebook)

Germany, known for its love of cars, is taking massive steps to encourage people to switch to climate-friendly public transport.

The government has introduced the €49 Deutschlandticket (D-ticket), a nationwide ticket for local and regional public transport networks. This initiative is part of a wider effort to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, promote sustainable transportation options, and achieve climate goals in the country, which is home to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche. More than 3 million people have already bought the new ticket, public transit companies say.

What does it offer?

  • For just €49 ($54) a month, travelers can enjoy unlimited access to all city buses, subways, and trams across every municipality in the country.
  • The €49-ticket is the successor to the popular €9-ticket introduced last summer to help mitigate the cost-of-living crisis.
  • The idea is to make public transport more accessible and affordable so that more people will choose buses and subways over their cars, reducing congestion and pollution.
  • From May 1, the ticket is available as a digital subscription that can be canceled monthly. It can be ordered online here or in person at stations. More information and detailed FAQs about the D-ticket are available here.
Simplified, digital-only, climate-friendly ticket

Germany’s Transport Minister Volker Wissing called it the “biggest reform of local public transport fares ever in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany”. The ticket aims to ease the financial burden on people while encouraging them to use buses and trains more frequently, making travel more climate-friendly. Online travel companies said that new ticket has simplified the transportation network in Germany.

German officials have termed the Deutschlandticket a “game-changer“ and “the biggest tariff revolution in local public transport” in the country. The federal government will provide €1.5 billion a year and Germany’s 16 states have agreed to contribute the same amount.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the new ticket as “an easy and cheap offer that will make public transit more attractive and help us achieve our climate goals.” Ahead of the launch of Euro 49 tickets, Scholz showed his support for the plan by visiting a bus depot in Berlin. The e-buses driving through Berlin are charged in only 7 minutes, he said, adding that “The future will be electric”.

Agreeing on the ticket is a major political achievement for Scholz’s government since it involved getting over 60 transport authorities to accept a digital-only ticket in a country where paper tickets remain the norm.

Renewable energy already makes up around 50% of our electricity mix and plans to take it to 80% by 2030.

Public response: While the €49-ticket has been introduced to offer affordable public transport, critics argue that the cost of financing the scheme outweighs its environmental benefits and that it remains unaffordable for low-income earners. Environmental group Greenpeace has suggested a €29-ticket as a more feasible option, as commuters in Berlin already have access to a €29 monthly pass.

Affordable public transit in Europe

Germany is not the first to introduce cheap transport tickets. Luxembourg was the first country to offer free public transport for residents and tourists in 2020, while Malta offers free public transport on most bus routes for holders of a €15 smart card.

Other European cities, including Tallinn and Dunkirk, have also introduced similar cards. Austria’s KlimaTicket (Climate ticket) allows commuters to travel anywhere in the country for €1,095 annually, with concessions available for families and the disabled.

For just €49 ($54) a month, travelers can enjoy unlimited access to all city buses, subways, and trams across all of Germany. (Image Credit: Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe – BVG)
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