What’s going on?
For quite a few weeks now, all has been quiet on the €49 ticket front, but now a few juicy details are emerging that could be good news for employees in Germany.
The €49 ticket – or Deutschlandticket – is a monthly travel deal that was intended as a more sustainable replacement to the popular €9 ticket that ran for three months last summer. So far, it looks like it’s going to have pretty much the same conditions: you’ll be able to travel all over Germany with it on regional and local transport. The main difference is that it’ll be pricier, and only available as a digital Abo (subscription).
Since the funding of the ticket was clarified at the end of last year, federal and state government, along with transport companies, have been in intense discussions to work out some of the finer details. On Friday, it emerged that the one of these details could involve a special discount for employees at certain companies.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s Transport Minister Oliver Krischer (Greens), who chairs the Transport Ministers’ Conference, told DPA that the state and federal governments are currently discussing a separate deal for so-called ‘Jobticket’ holders. This would mean that some workers could get an extra discount on top of the heavily subsidised €49 ticket and travel around Germany at an even cheaper rate.
READ ALSO: ‘Deutschlandticket’: What you need to know about Germany’s new €49 travel ticket
How would this look in practice?
This is something that’s available already in Germany. As a special employee perk, some companies organise deals with the transport companies in exchange for purchasing tickets in bulk. They then sell these ‘Jobtickets’ to their employees at a discounted rate.
According to DPA, the Association of Transport Companies (VDV) wants deals on the €49 ticket to work in a similar way, with employers purchasing a certain number of tickets in order to get a discount.
People wait for an U-Bahn train in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe
The hope is that this would result in a much higher number of people purchasing tickets, which would then partially offset the lower price.
“The Jobticket is one of the most sold tickets in public transport, currently we have several million subscribers in this segment,” VDV Chief Executive Oliver Wolff told DPA. “But there is still great potential to attract new passengers or employers to it.”
READ ALSO: When is Germany’s €49 ticket coming – and how long will it last?
Great! Is this definitely going to happen?
Nothing is set in stone at the moment. In the coming weeks, ministers and transport companies are going to be thrashing all these details out and (hopefully) coming to an agreement – so we’ll probably know for certain in February or March.
That said, since the scheme is already available, it seems likely that a similar deal could be rolled out for the €49 ticket. And Krischer – who heads up the conference of state and federal transport ministers – sounds very keen, describing it as a “highly attractive” offer for companies and their employees.
Could there be other discounts available?
Absolutely. It’s likely that certain other groups such as students, trainees, and people on low-income benefits will also be able to get the Deutschlandticket at a reduced rate – though this hasn’t been decided yet.
In particular, student unions have been lobbying for their own, cheaper version of the €49 ticket. Currently, most students in Germany pay for a discounted ‘Semesterticket’ as part of their tuition fees that usually costs around €40-50 per month.
They’re arguing that the introduction of the Deutschlandticket wouldn’t make a great deal of difference for them and say that students have been particularly hard-hit by the rise in the cost of living.
Berlin’s S-Bahn in summer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder
However, this could take longer to work out, since these discounts would have to be funded solely by the states.
Since financing has been a major issue in negotiations over the Deutschlandticket, we expect some pretty intense wrangling between the state and federal government over the next few months.
READ ALSO: Why students in Germany are still waiting for €200 energy payout
But do we even know when the €49 ticket will be on sale?
This has been pretty up in the air recently, but ministers now sound confident that passengers will be travelling on the €49 ticket from May 1st this year.
“I would have liked the Deutschlandticket to start on April 1st,” said Krischer. “But that won’t work out because the legislative process and the EU approval issue take time.”
On Friday, the state and federal governments said they had agreed on May start-date for the tickets and promised that they would go on sale for customers from April 3rd.
However, according to the Green politician, there are still a fair few technical details that have to be finalised in the coming days.
“I perceive a will on the part of all those involved – the federal government, the Länder and the associations – to reach a result,” he added. “We are at kilometre 40 in a marathon.”
(In case you’re wondering, there are 42 kilometres in a marathon.)
READ ALSO: Start date for Germany’s €49 ticket unclear as officials row over details
What other issues do they need to work out?
One key issue is whether the forthcoming ticket will be available in paper form as well as digitally. There have been reports in recent weeks that states are advocating for a paper version to be sold – at least at the beginning – for people without smartphones or the non-digitally literate.
However, Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is believed to be pushing for a digital-only ticket.
The likely outcome, according to Krischer, is a transitional paper ticket that would be on sale while the transport companies worked on synchronising their technology.
A tram collects passengers in the northern German town of Rostock. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Wüstneck
At the moment, he said, there are different systems used for checking digital tickets, which means that a ticket bought in Berlin may not appear valid in Bavaria. That needs to be sorted out.
Another thing putting the breaks on the ticket is that it would need to be approved as a new fare by the supervisory boards of each of Germany’s transport companies.
“That would mean hundreds of approvals – that is the current law,” said Krischer. “I expect flexibility from the federal government here, that they create the legal mechanism for the Deutschlandticket to be approved once or at least at the state level and that it would then apply everywhere.”
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