Uncertainty around the Deutschlandticket’s future funding remains
Since the introduction of the Deutschlandticket, there have been an estimated additional 170,000 train passengers per day, commuter journeys train on weekdays have increased by 27.5 per cent, and the number of weekend trips has increased significantly. Despite this success, the future of the ticket’s funding is not yet certain.
“The future of the Deutschlandticket is uncertain because the transport companies and associations do not know whether its funding will continue next year,” Werner Overkamp, Vice President of the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), told the German media, RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND). “The ball is now in the court of the federal government and the states: it is up to them to secure funding beyond 2023.”
This is far from the first time that the ticket’s funding has raised questions. Indeed, the ’49-euro-ticket’ faced multiple delays primarily due to financial considerations concerning its funding from both federal and state governments. The main challenge revolved around financing the 3-billion-euro initiative, with an equal split between the federal and state authorities. The federal states insisted on guarantees from the federal government that they would cover any shortfalls if the plan exceeded the expected cost.
On March 22, 2023, the Federal Government officially confirmed in a press release that they would compensate for half of the additional demand if the initial shares of 1.5 billion euros from both federal and state governments were insufficient to cover the costs in the introductory year. For subsequent years, both levels of government agreed to collaborate on securing financing through ticket revenues and the agreed subsidies of 1.5 billion euros each.
The way forward
Presently, the initial cost of the ticket is set at 49 euros, and this price will remain in effect for the first year. However, from the second year onward, there is a possibility of adjusting the price to account for inflation. The future of the ticket will be evaluated after a two-year period to determine its viability. The public transport association VDV has now joined the Association of German Cities in calling on the federal and state governments to secure funding for the Deutschlandticket for the coming years as soon as possible. According to the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport: “The more subscriptions are taken out, the cheaper the ticket can remain permanently.”
The association official called for a uniform solution for students, and employees in Germany, but also the expansion of public transport. “In addition, the Deutschlandticket cannot yet take effect, especially in rural areas, because the bus and rail services there first have to be expanded,” said VDV president Werner Overkamp to RND.
In order to support the federal states responsible for local public transport, the federal government has increased regionalisation funds for local public transport, which also grow by 3 per cent every year. “We are now working on the expansion of the railways. Those responsible on the ground must also gear the services more closely to the needs of the passengers,” states German Minister of Digital Affairs and Transport, Volker Wissing. In total, the federal government will provide the Länder with additional regionalisation funds of around 17.3 billion euros from 2022 to 2031 alone.
Leading by example
The German 49-euro ticket stands out compared to the Austrian “KlimaTicket Ö” launched in 2021, in large part because of its low price. Indeed, the “KlimaTicket Ö” is a one-year pass accepted on all public transport in Austria, covering standard services for state and private rail, inner-city transport, and routes managed by transport associations, either within a region, across multiple regions, or nationwide, depending on the ticket type. The ticket costs 1,095 euros at the standard price, which amounts to 91.25 euros per month (though a wide range of concessions exists for youths and seniors for example).
How the German government proceeds with the ticket’s financing in the coming years remains to be seen, but what is certain is that they will be closely watched by their French neighbours. Indeed, Clément Beaune, Minister Delegate for Transport of France 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,” he stated.