In the dispute and the future financing of the Germany ticket for buses and trains, the states are increasing the pressure on the federal government. The chairman of the state transport ministers, Oliver Krischer from North Rhine-Westphalia, warned that the offer would end.

“If a solution is not found very quickly for the Deutschlandticket, then what we all rightly celebrate as the most successful ticket model in public transport history and which is really a huge step forward will quickly be history again,” said the Green Party -Politician from the German Press Agency. He also called for the federal government to approve a uniform semester ticket.

This Thursday there will be a special digital meeting of the conference of federal and state transport ministers, as Krischer said. The aim there is to coordinate a common position between the states and talk to the federal government about the situation. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) was of course also invited. “We have not yet received an acceptance or rejection.” When asked on Sunday, the Berlin ministry said that the special date had not been agreed with the federal government and that no invitation had been accepted so far. If it is received, participation will of course be checked.

Future financing open

It’s not that easy in terms of the matter itself: Since May 1st, you can use the D-Ticket to travel on buses and trains in local public transport nationwide for 49 euros per month – with a digitally bookable, monthly-cancellable subscription. According to a basic agreement, the federal and state governments will each contribute 1.5 billion euros per year until 2025. In the first year, possible additional costs should be shared in half – but this “additional payment obligation” is open from 2024.

Krischer therefore spoke of a difficult financial situation. The obligation to make additional payments is necessary because local transport companies need a basis for calculation. “We as states are prepared to pay half of the additional costs. However, there is no clear signal from the federal government, but on the contrary a hardening.” He took from Wissing’s statements that there should no longer be a single euro. The NRW Ministry considers the Association of German Transport Companies’ forecast of additional costs of 1.1 billion euros in 2024 to be realistic. The solution must be that the federal and state governments continue to share half of the additional costs.

However, there was currently no sign of any concession. “After the federal government has increased the regionalization funds for the states and implemented simpler structures in public transport with the Deutschlandticket, it will now concentrate on its core task and tackle the renovation and modernization of the railway,” said Wissing’s ministry on Sunday. States and associations use the regionalization funds to order services from transport companies. In general, questions about the financing of the Germany Ticket must be clarified with the Prime Minister, explained the ministry. There is a clear resolution here that regulates financial issues until 2025.

Krischer sees three scenarios

NRW Minister Krischer outlined three scenarios if the federal government remained in a “blockade stance”. “One option is to increase the price. There’s already a figure in the room, namely 59 euros. You could do that. But I think it would be politically fatal if you raise such an increase less than a year after the introduction would have.” If you make the ticket ten euros more expensive, people will get out again and the revenue in the end won’t be much higher. “That means a price increase is not a solution,” said Krischer.

“The second solution is that the states say we will cover the additional costs alone. But I don’t see any political acceptance among the states,” said the Green politician. “The third option would be to reduce the offer in order to save costs. But that contradicts pretty much every transport policy program.”

Regarding Wissing’s calls to save on sales costs in public transport and to reduce the number of transport associations, Krischer said: “I don’t want to hide the fact that there is always a need for reform and that you always have to take a look at whether one or the other structure is still appropriate at the time.” However, this will not begin to solve the financing problems in public transport and the D-Ticket.

Reduced semester ticket

In the spring, the Conference of Transport Ministers made a proposal for a nationwide semester ticket for 29.60 euros per month, said Krischer. “This allows us to maintain this distance through the solidarity model.” But the federal government has not reacted for months. “This is even more incomprehensible because it costs nothing more to introduce such a nationwide semester ticket. On the contrary, it is a relief because we are keeping this large group of around three million students in the system.” The states would need approval from the federal government because of the joint financing.