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Public transport: Deutschlandticket raises Hessian passenger numbers to pre-Corona levels |

For a year it has been possible to tour throughout Germany with the Deutschlandticket for 49 euros per month. Hesse sees this as progress towards the mobility transition, transport operators report passenger numbers as before Corona. The only thing missing is long-term financing.

A year after the introduction of the Deutschlandticket, the Hessian Ministry of Transport described the offer as a “big step towards the mobility transition”. In Hesse, almost 500,000 people currently have such a ticket.

“The Deutschlandticket is a tariff revolution that shows how successful simple public transport offers can be. It stands for simplicity and is highly attractive in terms of price,” said the ministry. However, for the future of the offer, long-term and sustainable financing beyond 2025 is required.

The state wants permanent financing from the federal government

“The state of Hesse is committed to continuing the Deutschlandticket in 2026 and beyond and is therefore calling on the federal government to permanently finance the Deutschlandticket together with the states,” the ministry continued.

The federal government must tell the states provide permanently higher resources. Then the Deutschlandticket has a future and public transport has the chance to live up to its role as an important public service, explained the ministry. On May 1, 2023, passengers were able to use buses and trains for the first time with the nationwide public transport ticket.

RMV passenger level boosted again after Corona

According to the company’s own information, there are currently around 430,000 active Deutschlandticket subscriptions in the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) area alone. “The Deutschlandticket has undoubtedly made a significant contribution to the fact that passenger demand is currently back to around pre-Corona levels – despite, for example, increased home office,” said a spokesman.

There is particularly high demand for trips on weekends for leisure purposes and on fast lines that go beyond individual regions. According to the RMV, it is important to secure the service financially over several years in order to attract more passengers so that people can adapt to their mobility habits and the local transport industry can implement a uniform sales platform. In addition, more lines and trips would have to be offered.

The majority of subscriptions in northern Hesse are from new customers

According to NVV information, the current number of Deutschlandticket subscriptions in the North Hessian Transport Association area is around 56,600. “Two thirds of Deutschlandticket subscribers are new customers, and a third have switched to Deutschlandticket from other subscription contracts,” said a spokeswoman.

Even after the introduction of the Deutschlandticket, many passengers continued to use the student or senior ticket. These offers are valid throughout Hesse and are significantly cheaper than the Germany ticket.

According to the association, passenger numbers in the NVV area have increased in the past twelve months and are back to pre-Corona levels, and in some cases significantly higher. However, the increased number of passengers sometimes led to problems.

On particularly popular routes, it happened that passengers could not be taken along or bicycles were not possible due to overcrowded regional trains. “This shows that a cheap ticket offer must be accompanied by a further expansion of the public transport offering so that the use of buses and trains remains attractive for passengers,” said the spokeswoman.

Per train: Also think about occasional passengers

According to the Pro Bahn Hessen passenger association, the Deutschlandticket is a good incentive to use local public transport. It simplifies the problem of the tariff jungle and, at a price of 49 euros, is significantly cheaper than most monthly tickets were before.

However, a “stable and reliable operating quality and infrastructure” is necessary so that the use of the service is attractive and the number of passengers can continue to grow. “We fully adhere to the demand for price stability for the Deutschlandticket as well as discounted ticket offers for people on the educational path and people with lower incomes,” emphasized a spokesman.

There are also people who rarely use public transport or generally have a low need for mobility. There must be a more attractive offer of single tickets and day tickets for these passengers.

Business association: Better renovate the route network

The Association of Hessian Business Associations (VhU) criticized that the ticket subsidy was far too high at three billion euros per year. Tax money should be used differently, demanded VhU traffic expert Christoph Schäfer.

“Public transport must become bigger, better and more reliable, not cheaper. The Deutschlandticket predominantly subsidizes train drivers from the suburbs of metropolitan areas.” The assumed increase in users and the intended CO2 avoidance by those switching largely failed to materialize.

“The existing tax money should be spent on renovating the dilapidated network and expanding the service, i.e. for more frequent train frequencies and night-time journeys, for more railway lines, better signaling technology, more attractive train stations, longer platforms and modern information systems – both in the cities as well as in rural areas,” demanded Schäfer.

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