Macron dreams of a French “Deutschland Ticket”
French President Emmanuel Macron stated that he is “in favour” of creating a system similar to the German “Deutschlandticket” in France, during an interview with French YouTuber, Hugo Travers. However, no details surrounding the modalities of implementation have been shared.
On Monday 4 September, the start of the new school year, Emmanuel Macron was interviewed by journalist and YouTuber Hugo Travers, host of the “Hugo décrypte” channel. In this interview devoted to “The Future of Young People”, streamed live on YouTube and TikTok, Macron was asked about various themes including the climate emergency. Within this context, Macron was asked if he was in favour of implementing a “Deutschlandticket”– the 49-euro public transport subscription introduced in Germany – in France, to which he responded: “I am in favour of this and I have asked the Minister for Transport to launch the same scheme with all the regions that are prepared to do so. (…) “We will have a similar service in France in the next few months.”
Indeed, less than two months ago, Clément Beaune, Minister Delegate for Transport of France also announced in an interview with the French media outlet Brut, on 18 July 2023 his intention to create a similar ticket in France. “It’s very ambitious, but I’m giving myself two years to get a single ticket or application for transport in France, whether you take a TER, an RER-type transport system in the Ile-de-France, the RTM metro in Marseille, or, for example, whether you charge your car at an electric station. Having a single transport card or app would be a huge simplification,” he stated. Crucially, promoting the modal shift to rail would support France’s goals of moving away from fossil fuels and reducing national CO2 emissions. “The crux of the battle is to get out of coal and out of oil,” reminds Macron in the interview.
“Then there’s the question of a single fare, and here we need agreement between the regions, the State and the cities in particular. We often have attractive offers, but they’re scattered and so we don’t have the hyper-attractive equivalent of the German 49-euro ticket, or what the Austrians are doing. There are two or three countries in Europe that are doing this, and I would like us to get involved too. Germany took a year to do it, so we’re going to try to do it over the next few months,” continued Beaune.
The Deutschlandticket, introduced in Germany four months ago, is a monthly rail subscription ticket for unlimited travel for a flat fee of 49 euros. It can be used in regional trains, commuter trains and other forms of local public transport across the entire country. High-speed trains are however excluded. The Deutschlandticket increased the attractiveness of public transport compared to the car. Since the introduction of the Deutschlandticket, there have been an estimated additional 170,000 train passengers per day, commuter journeys by train on weekdays have increased by 27.5 per cent, and the number of weekend trips has increased significantly.
The creation of this system was not, however, smooth sailing. Despite the fact that it followed the very successful 9-euro-ticket, allowing passengers to travel for 9 euros per month on local and regional transport in all of Germany in June, July, and August 2022, finding funding for its successor was complex, with much back and forth between the 16 German regions and the federal government. Even today, the future of the ticket’s funding remains uncertain.
Similarly, in France, the individual regions enjoy the right to set their own public transport fares. “The reality here is that it is the regions that set the fares for their tickets,” stated Macron in the interview. “All the regions that are prepared to do this with the State, go for it,” he continued. Despite the political goodwill demonstrated by Macron and his government, no concrete outline, timeline, or price estimate has been shared by his administration. It therefore remains to be seen if all 18 regions of France would be able to reach an agreement on the specific modalities and financing of a French Deutschlandticket equivalent in only a couple of months.
In the meantime, French youths can continue to enjoy the SNCF’s MAX JEUNE discount program, offering unlimited travel on TGV INOUI, INTERCITÉS with compulsory booking and OUIGO high-speed trains, outside of peak hours, at a flat fare of 79 euros a month.
During the interview, Macron also brought up the recent introduction of a “train pass for all young people who sign up to the Universal National Service and civic service”. In June, Elisabeth Borne announced that young people aged between 18 and 20 would be entitled to free travel on TGV and Intercités trains for a month if they signed up for the Service National Universel (SNU), a new type of civic service introduced by Macron in 2021.