Climate Crisis

Germany's €9 transit ticket cuts 1.8 million tonnes of CO2

People at train station in Hamburg, Germany, where 9-euro tickets for monthly public transport have been introduced.

Germany's 9-euro tickets for monthly transit have prevented significant CO2 emissions. Image: Photo by Alexander Bagno on Unsplash

Spencer Feingold
Digital Editor, World Economic Forum
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  • In June, Germany began offering monthly public transit tickets for €9.
  • The low-cost ticket aimed to mitigate the burden of the increasing cost of living.
  • Tens of millions of people have bought the 9-euro tickets and the reduction in car use has cut carbon dioxide emissions significantly.

For three months, Germany has been offering ultracheap monthly tickets for all local trains, metros, trams and buses. The scheme was introduced in an effort to encourage the use of public transportation and ease the burden of inflation and high energy costs.

The plan appears to have been a success. Over 52 million people have bought the €9 tickets and the reduction in car use has cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.8 million tonnes, according to VDV, the leading public-transport organisation in Germany.

“The 9-euro ticket not only relieved citizens financially but also had a clearly positive effect on the climate,” said Oliver Wolff, VDV’s CEO.

The impact of Germany's 9-euro tickets

Notable improvements to air quality in metropolitan areas have also been documented. Researchers at the University of Potsdam found that air pollution levels fell by up to 7% in response to the introduction of the low-cost ticket.

“Our results may have important policy and health implications: they show that subsidizing public transportation might be a viable option to reduce air pollution particularly in cities, thereby contributing to the UN’s sustainability goal of creating more resilient, safer and healthier urban agglomerations,” the University of Potsdam’s report states.

The study echoes the World Economic Forum's recent Sustainable Road Transport and Pricing report, which called for affordable public transportation to "further encourage adoption and reduce the financial burden for current users."

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Deutsche Bahn, Germany's national rail authority, said it alone sold 26 million of the 9-euro tickets and saw a 10% increase in ridership over the summer months. Evelyn Palla, a Deutsche Bahn board member, called the 9-euro ticket experiment a “complete success.”

The discounted ticket constituted a major price reduction. Normally, monthly tickets for local transportation in Berlin cost €107. Among new purchasers of monthly public transportation tickets since June, over half said the low price was the leading incentive, VDV surveys found.

The 9-euro ticket scheme is set to expire at the end of August, but many advocates are pushing for an extension.

“All responsible actors should therefore now decide quickly on the continuation and further development of such an offer,” Wolff added. “If we take the traffic turnaround and climate change seriously, then we have to act now.”

The decision comes as Germany continues to face high inflation, which nearly hit 8% in August. The uptick reversed a slight downward trend that was recorded in the months prior.

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