Germany’s €9 monthly tickets scheme for unlimited travel on regional train networks, trams, and buses has saved 1.8 million tons of CO2 emissions since its launch on June 1.
This cheap fares experiment, which aims to reduce fuel consumption and ease cost of living crisis, has sold 52 million tickets, with a fifth of which to people who did not often use public transportation. The scheme ended on Aug. 31.
The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), which conducted the research, said the number of people who switched from cars to public transport due to the €9 ticket led to the reduction of emissions.
“The popularity of the €9 tickets had been unabated and the positive effect on it in tackling climate change is verifiable,” the VDV said. It said the emissions saved were equivalent to the powering of 350,000 homes, and a similar drop would be seen over the period of a year if Germany introduced a speed limit on its motorways. A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 tons of carbon a year.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has been criticized for what some have interpreted as careless about Germany’s surging fuel price and steep rise in the cost of living in recent months, has praised the scheme, calling the €9 ticket “our best idea yet.”
The scheme is also believed to have helped keep inflation, sitting currently at 8%, a level slightly lower than it otherwise would have been.
Germany is renowned for its complicated public-transportation ticketing systems and myriad transport zones. Passengers praised the cheapness and simplicity of the scheme, as it makes travel easier.
Among people who bought this €9 ticket, just over 37% of them used it to go to work, 50% for everyday trips such as to go shopping or to the doctors, 40% for visiting friends and family, and 33% for day trips.
“I’ve travelled from Bavaria in the south to Rostock in the north and seen places I might never otherwise have bothered to visit,” Ronald Schenck, 80, told a regional broadcaster. “It’s saved me a fortune and I’ve had a lot of fun.”
The government and regional administrations are under huge pressure to continue the ticket in some form. Any replacement would be at least six times higher than €9, but surveys indicate that there is considerable interest in such a scheme.
However, some have pointed out the scheme's disadvantages, including crowded trains and users often not being able to get bikes onboard.
There are also worries that low-cost tickets could cause less fund to improve transportation systems, which are especially poor in rural areas where transportation systems usually lack interconnection between independent services. Rural areas had the lowest ticket sales, which could be ascribed to the poor availability of public transportation.