Germany: Unlimited routes, almost free

By | May 1, 2023

Absolute freedom of movement, with a nominal fee and no regrets regarding our ecological “footprint”. All this becomes a reality in Germany if the “€49 ticket” valid from May 1 and equivalent to a monthly unlimited travel card triumphs. The demand is enormous, three million tickets have already been sold. For only 49 euros per month, the interested party can move freely with all the means of transport in their city, but also with all the trains in the country (except the InterCity and InterCity Express high-speed trains), they can also use all the means transportation to your destination, without any additional financial burden.

Let’s make a hypothetical reduction to the Greek facts: you live in Athens, you take the metro to the train station on the weekend, you take the train for a trip to Chalkida, you take the local bus to the beach, you go back to Athens and all this without spending a single euro beyond the “fixed” amount of 49 euros per month. Next weekend you choose another destination.

The obvious objective of the measure is to improve the financial viability of public transport, which can now be planned with predictable income, but above all to limit travel by car, especially in the center of the city, which in many cases is no longer It is accessible. to IX cars.

The experience of the “9 euro note”

The experience of the first corresponding experiment, the “nine-euro note” that was established in a period of recession of the pandemic, that is, from June 1 to August 31, 2022, was encouraging. 52,000,000 “notes” were sold EUR 9″ and gave many lower-income Germans free travel to popular summer vacation destinations such as the North and Baltic Seas, Bavaria and the Black Forest. Of course, the suffering of the workers who commute daily for work reasons was not lacking, since the trains were often suffocatingly full.

The environmental benefits are quite obvious, although there is still insufficient evidence. Early estimates after the “9 euro note” experience indicated that although rail travel increased significantly, car travel did not decrease accordingly. It is assumed that many drivers bought a “9 euro ticket” to ensure an additional option of cheap transport, but without getting out of the car.

By the end of 2022, the total CO2 emissions in Germany not only did not decrease, but increased, reaching 148 million tons. However, the German Association for Public Transport (VDV) in its memorandum, published last summer, states that only the introduction of the “9 euro ticket” for 3 months resulted in the reduction of CO2 emissions by 1.8 million tons.

The issue of financing is also an important issue. Last year’s experiment cost the state budget 2.5 billion euros and everyone agrees that the return to the “9 euro note” is not sustainable. Various proposals were heard, from 19 to 69 euros for the new “subscription” in public transport and finally the golden ratio was found at 49 euros. There were also political reactions, as Finance Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats (FDP), Christian Lindner, who is doing all he can to limit Germany’s growing public debt, initially opposed the new “pass”, but was he convinced after relevant suggestions from the also liberal Transport Minister Volker Vissing.

“Annoying” the rich

With such a cheap ticket, everyone can plan their holidays more comfortably, as long as they have the necessary patience. Example: If someone lives in Bonn, more or less in the center of Germany, and dreams of a trip to Sylt, the “island of the rich” in the North Sea, they can realize their dream completely free of charge with public transport. . “approve”. But it takes patience and planning, as the local newspaper General-Anzeiger reported last year, calculating the route on a “€9 note.”

The journey starts at 5:48 a.m. in Bonn with five train changes in Cologne, Essen, Osnabrück, Bremen, Hamburg and arrives on Sylt at 5:05 p.m. All this only on the condition that all previous trains arrive at time, which is quite unlikely.

But there are also those who have time. Last summer, some groups of punk friends had announced via social media that they would use the cheap ticket to go to Sylt and “bother” the rich a bit, some even announced a “protest camp” on Westerland beach. , its capital island. . Many took it as a joke, but Sylt residents and regular tourists did not appreciate the humor.

Eventually some punk groups appeared, which from the first moment found themselves under police surveillance. In November 2022, the municipal authority made its assessment, saying that the visitors caused expenses of 270,000 euros for emergency security measures, cleaning, etc. However, it is not certain that the same will happen this year. One of the punk visitors declared to the German television camera that “the island stinks” and that he will not return…

Source: DW

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