How the 9€ Ticket Has Revolutionized Travel in Germany
The ticket is valid nationwide on all local (and regional) routes and in all means of public transport for any number of journeys
Blame it on the Russian aggression on Ukraine. It has ensured a huge shortage in the supply of energy while the demand remains in the higher side as usual.
In the scamper for alternative sources countries with lesser population are somehow managing. However, for Europe’s biggest economies things aren’t as simple. The focus therefore, is to control consumption from all quarters possible.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has moved towards make local public transport cheaper. As part of the federal government’s multi-billion dollar relief package it has introduced a nationwide 9 euro ticket, that became valid from June 1 and will apply for a three-month period, until August 31.
In simple terms people can travel across Germany for three months at a total cost of just 27 euros. The ticket is valid for all local transport and even regional trains. The move is meant to encourage people to do away with their cars for some time and make use of public transport. The move being marketed as environment friendly is actually a step to address the energy shortage, and if the initial response is anything to go by, is already a success with millions of tickets being sold already.
That said, it has not been all hunky dory. Ever since the ticket became valid people are posting on various social media platforms as to how the buses and trains are packed and running to full capacity. There are also media reports suggesting that things have already got out of control.
Buses and trains getting overcrowded is the norm in any city that is either already bloated or is heading towards overpopulation. In cities like Dhaka, Kolkata, London, Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, Paris or any other such cities for that matter witnessing a public transport packed when it arrives at the station is no surprise. However, Germany doesn’t have that many cities with a huge population.
In fact there are hardly any. Berlin, Germany’s capital and most population city, is home to about four million people. Hamburg, the country’s second most populous city, has about 1.9 million. Munich and Cologne are the only two cities which have in excess of a million people. So witnessing a jam-packed train, with no place to move, is an aberration if not an anomaly.
To check what the situation actually is yours truly first made use of all local transport before taking a regional train from Hamburg to the city of Lübeck in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. As I’s a little late to reach the Hamburg main station I wasn’t able to catch the train I was supposed to catch. The official at the platform was quick to tell me that I was fortunate as that train was overcrowded.
Thankfully the next train wasn’t. That said, it was one that stopped at every station and as such, it was always full. The people that got down at each stop was always superseded by those who entered the compartments. Inside such a train, especially with the mask on, was suffocating to say the least.
I did get to witness the hysteria surrounding the 9-Euro ticket upon my return from Lübeck. The express train (with fewer stops) was overcrowded, and that’s an understatement. I scanned the entire platform and went inside five compartments only to find people everywhere. There was hardly any space to move. People were standing in the aisle, at the doors, near the washrooms…
The train I eventually took was packed as well, but not as much as the one I had refrained from boarding. There were multiple announcements that the train cannot move forward as some people were standing at the door, and it wouldn’t close. It was only after the necessary human adjustments were made that we were able to head to the next station.
As I got down at Hamburg I could see many waiting to board the same train. It’s not that Germans do not use public transport at all. That said, this bargain price, coupled with the high fuel prices at the gas stations, has also ensured many people have ditched their personal vehicles to avail this cheaper ticket.
The eventual outcome of this three-month experiment will only be known in early September. It remains to be seen if this three-month bargain will result in an overall increase in ticket prices in the long run.
However, for the next couple of months it will be all about 9-euro ticket. You may get annoyed with the overcrowding in public transportation but please do not complain, for you have also fallen for the offer and purchased this ticket. Therein lies its success.