More than 11 million tickets sold, celebrated by many as a tariff revolution: The Germany ticket for local and regional transport will soon be one year old. Since May 1, 2023, it can be used nationwide in local and regional transport. The monthly price is usually 49 euros – but for how long? This is a question that the transport ministers of the federal states will be dealing with on Wednesday and Thursday in Münster. However, groundbreaking decisions are unlikely. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is missing in Münster, he is abroad and is sending two state secretaries.

Homework for the Germany ticket

The Deutschlandticket is not just an incentive to switch to public transport, said North Rhine-Westphalia Transport Minister Oliver Krischer (Greens) as chairman of the Transport Ministers’ Conference. “It also makes a contribution to climate protection and relieves commuters of billions of dollars. This also has a dampening effect on inflation. I am therefore very satisfied with the first year. But there is still homework to be done : Permanent financing remains an issue,” said Krischer. “To this end, it is necessary that we establish the ticket even more strongly as a job ticket and that employers take over it proportionately.”

In January, the transport ministers decided that the price of the Germany ticket would remain stable this year. Or is there movement on this question again? Bavaria’s Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter (CSU) said the decision was made on the basis of a promise from Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) that remaining funds from the previous year could be transferred to this year. It’s about 350 million euros that the states and transport companies urgently need. But nothing has happened here since November. “If the funds are not transferred, the Germany ticket will have to become more expensive this year, or it will even be phased out completely.” He doesn’t want either, because that would be a major loss of trust.

In any case, it is unclear what the Deutschlandticket will cost from 2025 onwards. Ramona Pop, board member of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations, said: “The federal and state governments must now stick to their promise and keep the price stable, at least until 2030.” In order to get even more people onto buses and trains in the long term, secure, permanent financing of the Deutschlandticket is necessary.

“It may be that there will be a greater burden on passengers in the future and the price will rise,” said Schleswig-Holstein Transport Minister Claus Ruhe Madsen (CDU). But first there must be facts on the table about the exact amount of income. Madsen also called for a signal from the federal government to stand by its responsibility for the Deutschlandticket from 2026 onwards. In order to compensate for loss of revenue for transport companies from tickets, the federal government will pay 1.5 billion euros per year until 2025 according to the Regionalization Act – the states will also pay 1.5 billion.

Countries want more money

The federal government’s billions in so-called regionalization funds, which the states and transport associations use to order rail and bus connections from transport companies, have been a bone of contention for years – the states are demanding significantly more money. The background is also a planned “expansion and modernization pact” for local public transport.

The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) demands that the discussion at the transport ministers’ conference should not stop at the Deutschlandticket. “We expect that the conference of transport ministers will deal with the overall dramatic situation of public transport financing,” said VDV managing director Alexander Möller. “The industry needs a secure and reliable perspective for the urgently needed expansion and modernization of infrastructure and vehicles as well as financial resources for the nationwide expansion of offerings.”

The availability of buses and trains must be increased, said Krischer. “But for this we need investments in the expansion and maintenance of the railways.” Krischer had already welcomed an “infrastructure fund” proposed by Wissing, in which financial resources for rail, roads and waterways would be pooled for several years. Wissing also wants to mobilize private capital. “I hope the federal government will provide further details,” said Krischer. “One thing is clear: without additional investments in infrastructure, the Deutschlandticket will lose its appeal.”

Conflict issues between the federal and state governments

In Münster, there are likely to be two federal projects, especially behind the scenes, that the states have stopped for the time being. On the one hand, it is about a law that is important for the upcoming general renovation of important railway lines, which is due to begin in the summer – the Federal Railway Expansion Act is in the mediation committee after it failed to get a majority in the Bundesrat due to financial issues. In addition, a law passed by the Bundestag on new road traffic regulations failed to achieve the required majority in the Bundesrat.