49-euro Deutschlandticket ‘revolution with great potential’, says German rail alliance
Four months ago, the Deutschlandticket was introduced in Germany, a monthly rail subscription ticket for unlimited travel for a flat fee of 49 euros. The German Pro-Rail Alliance draws a positive interim balance, and appeals to the federal and state governments to agree on permanent funding so as not to jeopardise the success of the ticket.
The Pro-Rail Alliance acknowledges that after only four months, the exact shift effect from road to raili s hard to quantify. However, “People don’t decide overnight to leave their car in the garage to go to work and use regional trains and buses instead. Rather, people need long-term perspectives so that they can change their behavior”, says managing director Dirk Flege.
There are signs that the Deutschlandticket already led to more train journeys, however. Since the introduction of the ticket, the number of commuter journeys by professionals who commute longer distances by train on weekdays has increased by 27.5 per cent compared to pre-pandemic times, according to the Mobility Monitor of Germany’s largest mobile phone provider O2 Telefónica, based on mobile movement data from its users. At the same time, the number of longer commuter journeys by car fell by 11.8 per cent, despite an overall increase in car traffic in 2023 compared to previous years, the phone provider observed.
The Austrian example
“We stand by it: the Deutschlandticket is a revolution for local transport”, says Flege. “Millions of tickets sold show that many people have been waiting for such an incentive for a long time and that they are willing to use public transport more. In the long term, the Deutschlandticket has the potential to fundamentally change people’s mobility behavior.”
For an example of this behavioural change, the Alliance points to neighbouring country Austria. There, a climate ticket – an annual pass for public transport throughout the country – was introduced two years ago. In a recent survey by the Verkehrsclub Österreich, 57 per cent of passengers with a climate ticket stated that they use the train for journeys that they would previously have done by car.
However in Germany, there is still uncertainty about the future of the Deutschlandticket as the funding remains an issue. “If the federal and state governments argue every few months about who is giving how much money for the Germany ticket, then that is completely counterproductive”, says the managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance. “The constant wrangling over money only unsettles the people in the country. As long as there is still a question mark behind the financing of the Deutschlandticket, people in the country will not change their mobility behavior fundamentally and in the long term. That’s why we need an agreement quickly on how the financing is to be secured in the long term.”
In order to make the Deutschlandticket attractive to even more people, the Pro-Rail Alliance also calls for the public transport service to be significantly improved, particularly in rural areas. In addition, it advocates a social ticket to appeal to people with low incomes, as well as a nationwide regulation for families with children.