Travel card in Germany for 9 euros: success or failure? | DV Travel | DV

In the spring, Germany’s coalition government announced that a heavily discounted national travel pass – the so-called €9 ticket – would be available in June, July and August. Each pass allows ticket holders to use the German public transport network for one calendar month for just that €9 ($9.38).

News of a scheme designed to mitigate rising fuel and living costs caused a stir, but left some wondering if the transport infrastructure could handle the expected surge in ridership. Notably, national rail operator Deutsche Bahn has already warned ahead of time that travelers should refrain from carrying bicycles on trains starting in June due to lack of space.

Germany’s public transport authorities, which operate transport networks across the country, have had little time to prepare. “We had to adjust our sales infrastructure and acquire additional buses, trains and staff – although I must say that was not possible at any moment,” says Lars Wagner of the German Association of German Transport Companies (VDV). The umbrella organization represents more than 600 transit authorities and public transport companies in the country.

Overcrowded trains

Many were waiting for crowded buses and trains during the Trinity celebrations in early June. And they were right. Numerous regional trains bound for the popular Baltic and North Sea coasts were so crowded that passengers had to abandon them. It has become almost impossible to take bicycles with you.

However, this passenger traffic was largely expected, says Wagner. Trinity, after all, is a public holiday and a time when many people usually travel around the country on buses and trains every year. The Airborne, of course, expected crowds of people to head to popular holiday destinations, go on weekend trips, and visit Germany’s major cities.

During the Trinity weekend, large crowds gathered at the main station in Hamburg.

Berlin and Brandenburg also saw a significant increase in passenger traffic. According to Joachim Radünz of the Berlin-Brandenburg Transport Authority (VBB), trains to the Baltic Sea coast and other popular weekend destinations were very frequent.

Lack of service personnel

The budget pass has enticed many people who have never or rarely used public transport to give it a try. Legislators certainly hoped for such an effect.

However, this has created a whole host of new problems, Wagner says. Some of these inexperienced travelers, for example, did not know how to navigate train stations. This, according to Wagner, “led to delays as disoriented passengers exited the train onto the platforms, trying to orient themselves, thus blocking others from getting off or boarding.”

Personal service at some stations helped travelers find their way and minimize delays. “In Cologne, I saw assistants helping passengers get on crowded trains quickly so that others can get on too,” says Dennis Junghans of the German Rail Alliance, an umbrella group that advocates…


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