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How the Greens want to replace Germany’s €9 ticket deal

New proposals drafted by the Green Party have set out plans for two new cheap travel tickets in Germany as well as a shake-up of the country's travel zones. Here's what you need to know.

Regional train in Coburg Bavaria
A region train arrives in Coburg, Bavaria, on the first day on the €9 ticket deal. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Vogl

What’s going on?

Germany’s €9 travel deal has been hugely popular this summer, with an estimated 30 million or so passengers taking advantage of the offer in June alone. Now the last month of the three-month offer is underway, there are hopes that the ticket could be replaced by another deal that offers simple, affordable travel on a regional or national basis.

There have been a few ideas for this floating around, including a €365 annual ticket and a €69 monthly ticket pitched by German transport operators. Now the Green Party has weighed in with a concept paper setting out plans for two separate travel tickets to replace the €9 ticket. The paper was obtained by ARD Hauptstadtstudio on Friday. 

Why do they want two different tickets?

The first ticket would be a regional one costing just €29 a month and the second would be a €49 that, much like the €9 ticket, would be valid for the whole of Germany.

This would allow people who mainly stay in their local region to opt for the most cost-effective option while long-distance commuters or those who want to travel further afield could opt for the nationwide offer.

Presumably the ticket would once again be valid for local and regional transport only rather than long-distance trains like the ICE. 

To simplify the system even more, the Greens also want to introduce new travel zones for the regional monthly tickets.

READ ALSO: Has Germany’s €9 rail ticket been a success?

How would the travel zones change?

According to the paper, Germany would be divided into eight regional zones that would include the Berlin-Brandenburg area, the eastern German states of Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt and the northern states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania. 

The zones take passengers “statewide at a minimum”, the paper says, for example in the larger states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and North-Rhine Westphalia.

However, as the map below shows, states will also be clustered together to make larger regions.

One of the major draws of the €9 ticket has been the flat-rate system that allows passengers to travel anywhere in the country using the same ticket. This appears to be what the Greens are trying to replicate with their proposals. 

READ ALSO: What happens to Germany’s €9 ticket at the end of August?

How would this be financed? 

As you might expect, the Green Party is placing less eco-friendly forms of transport in the crosshairs as it looks for cash to fund the cheap tickets.

The first way to free up cash would be to end tax breaks for people with company cars. In addition, taxes on CO2 emissions would be increased. 

This would result in “additional revenues for the federal government and the states, which could flow seamlessly into the financing of cheap tickets”, the paper states. 

However, the Greens don’t set out how much money they think this would bring in or how much the discounted tickets would cost the state in total. 

Is this definitely going to happen?

At the moment, it seems that the Greens are the main voices in the coalition government pushing for a longer term travel deal – and they continue to face opposition from the pro-business FDP.

Unfortunately for the Green Party, the FDP happen to be heading up two crucial ministries that could both play a role in blocking a future offer: the Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry. 

However, with four out of five people saying they want to see a successor to the €9 ticket in autumn, Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is currently under pressure to come up with a replacement as soon as possible. 

A passenger sits on the platform a Berlin Hauptbahnhof

A passenger sits on the platform a Berlin Hauptbahnhof waiting for a train. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Joerg Carstensen

At a press conference a few weeks ago, he promised to discuss this with the state transport ministers after analysing how successful the ticket had been.

In particular, researchers will want to look at how many people ended up leaving the car at home and taking the bus or train instead.

Though the data on this is inconclusive at the moment, some studies have shown reduced congestion on the roads while the ticket was running.

In a survey of The Local’s readers conducted last month, 80 percent of respondents said they had used public transport more with the €9 ticket and 85 percent said they wanted to see a similar deal continue in the autumn.

Of the options on the table so far, a monthly €29 ticket was by far the most popular choice.

READ ALSO: ‘Affordable and simple’: What foreigners in Germany want to see after the €9 ticket

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STRIKES

Pilots at German low-cost airline Eurowings to strike

Eurowings pilots will go on a one-day strike on Thursday after negotiations on improving working conditions at the low-cost German airline broke down, their union said.

Pilots at German low-cost airline Eurowings to strike

The employees of the Lufthansa subsidiary were seeking a reduction in maximum flying time as well as an increase in rest periods, the Cockpit union (VC) said, adding current agreements had not been updated since 2015.

“The workload has increased significantly. The employer regularly pushes staff to the maximum permitted limit,” said Matthias Baier, a Cockpit spokesman.

After several rounds of talks failed, “the only option left for us is to advance our demands via a labour dispute,” he said.

The union said it remained open to further talks. The strike at the low-cost German air carrier will last from midnight on Wednesday for 24 hours. 

READ ALSO: Eurowings plans 10-percent fare hike amid flight chaos in Germany

The number of flight cancellations depends on how well the airline manages to organise replacement connections, Baier said. The strike doesn’t involve Eurowings Discover.

“We are open to talks about how we can achieve reasonable working hours for Eurowings employees in the long term,” added Marcel Gröls, chairman of the VC union bargaining committee.

So far, however, it has not been possible to agree on a common path with the employer, he said. “It’s not enough to sit at the negotiating table, you also have to bring the will to find solutions and not present counter-demands as an offer.”

The European aviation sector has been hit by a growing number of strikes in recent months among pilots, cabin crew and ground staff.

High inflation has triggered calls for pay hikes, while the sector also faces a shortage of workers after many jobs were cut during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lufthansa pilots agreed last month not to go on strike again until at least the end of June next year under a pay deal negotiated with the airline.

READ ALSO: Pilots at German airline Lufthansa suspend strikes through June 2023

It comes after a summer of chaos due to staff shortages as travel picked up again when pandemic restrictions were loosened. 

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