In the course of the strong demand for the nine-euro monthly ticket in the Whitsun traffic of the railways, consumer advocates, municipalities and transport politicians are demanding permanently low local transport prices as well as additional billions in subsidies. The Association of Towns and Municipalities spoke out in favor of offering a cheap ticket with unlimited nationwide validity even after the expiry of the three-month ticket for local public transport. The Pro Bahn passenger association sees its criticism of the ticket as confirmed.
As at the beginning of the Pentecost holidays, regional trains were in high demand on Sunday, especially to tourist destinations – for example towards the Baltic Sea and North Sea, according to Deutsche Bahn. Overall, the railway assumed a lower rush than on Saturday. On the day, travelers had reported that the trains were sometimes completely overcrowded, and that there were also delays. Some train customers would not have found a seat, and passengers had to get off some trains. Travelers were also sometimes unable to take bicycles with them.
Punks on Sylt
Federal police officers are on duty over Pentecost to support railway employees – for example when passengers have to be asked to leave overcrowded trains. How often overcrowded trains had to be stopped was initially not known from the railways. In Stendal in Saxony-Anhalt, federal police officers were called to an overcrowded regional express heading north on Saturday. The train was more than 200 percent full, said a spokesman for the federal police on Sunday. The driver asked for help because passengers were not willing to leave the train.
A group of punks who met on the island of Sylt made a name for themselves. About 50 to 80 would have met there and drunk beer. According to media reports, they should have delivered the necessary drinks to an Amazon pick-up station in Westerland. Overall, there were no significant incidents on the island, which was discussed a lot in advance in the course of the introduction of the nine-euro ticket.
Crowd on Whit Monday
For today’s Whit Monday, Deutsche Bahn expects a stronger rush due to the first return journeys. A spokeswoman again recommended passengers to get information from the local transport associations or via the DB Navigator app shortly before starting their journey. DB Regio is currently tweeting about “extraordinary capacity utilization” in the various regions, especially in Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, that rides cannot be guaranteed and bicycles are not possible.
The SPD traffic expert Dorothee Martin sees the current discount campaign as an opportunity, but also calls for fundamental improvements. “Wirtschaftswise” Veronika Grimm reacted cautiously to the push for a cheap ticket for everyone.
The Pro Bahn passenger association sees its criticism confirmed after the first endurance test for the nine-euro ticket on Pentecost weekend. “During the peak travel season, demand on the main routes was so high that trains could not depart. And some railway companies – such as Metronom in northern Germany – have excluded bicycle transport because they could not handle the rush,” said Karl-Peter Naumann from the passenger association Per lane of the dpa. The chaos was foreseeable and the result of a political offer without having the necessary rail traffic capacities.
“Public transport is under discussion”
“Not everything that is well meant is also well done,” said Naumann from Pro Bahn. The good thing about the 9-euro ticket is that it has brought local public transport back into the conversation; an effect that Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) also welcomed. “But it only works if the capacities are there,” emphasized Naumann.
According to SPD expert Martin, she was very happy about the great popularity of the 9-euro ticket. But it is clear “that we need more money in public transport in the long term,” emphasized the transport policy spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group in the “Handelsblatt”. In many regions, the offer is unfortunately insufficient. At the same time, the costs also increased for the transport companies.
Gerd Landsberg, general manager of the Association of Towns and Municipalities, told the Handelsblatt that “we don’t need a short public transport summer, but a nationwide public transport country”. It is therefore necessary to think about the prospect of a nationwide valid, uniform and discounted ticket.
The federal and state governments should agree on the question of financing against the background of experience with the 9-euro ticket. Only with a permanent increase in funds from the federal and state governments would there be scope to allow more buses and trains to run and also to significantly improve tariff offers, said Landsberg.
The interim head of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv), Jutta Gurkmann, made a similar statement: “In order to strengthen public transport and keep passengers permanently, cheap ticket prices are important. The federal government should therefore decide on a price moratorium for buses and trains and move to a customer-friendly public invest in attractive offers.”
Gurkmann suggested “beneficiary financing” as an additional financing option. This would mean involving employers, retailers or private individuals whose real estate increases in value, for example through good public transport connections, in the financing.
“Extremely cheap offer for younger people”
The “Wirtschaftswise” Grimm said with regard to the demand for a nationwide unlimited valid public transport ticket, “with an offer for everyone, including the solvent, only the financial leeway is reduced without major effects being likely to be achieved”. It would be conceivable, for example, to make an extremely inexpensive offer to young people. So they got used to using public transport, which would then become more attractive with increasing expansion, said the economist, who also advises the federal government.
Pentecost was the first endurance test for the discount campaign. The ticket allows you to use local public transport throughout Germany for a month, the ticket is available for June, July and August. It is intended to support commuters, for example, and also help to persuade new users to permanently switch to the train.
Naumann expects further problems in the coming summer months. He therefore advised rail travelers, if possible, not to travel at the weekend, but to switch to days in the middle of the week and to reconsider the destination. “Does it have to be Sylt, Warnemünde or Lake Tegernsee – or aren’t there other beautiful areas where demand is lower?” Naumann suggested.
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