As pollution released by vehicles continues to have damaging consequences on our health and the environment, Germany is hoping to encourage more citizens to use busses, trains and metros by proposing to slash public transport costs to just €1 per day.
Germany has a modern, well-connected and reliable public transport network. Roughly 88% of its citizens live within a kilometre of a transit stop and it's pretty easy to commute in any large or even medium-sized city without a car. But it could become even easier, or cheaper rather, for people whether they live in the city or countryside. The Social Democrats (SDP) have proposed cutting the cost of annual transport tickets down to just €365 (€1 per day) in municipalities across Germany in a bid to tackle climate change by encouraging more people to use public transport.
The new annual ticket would be valid on all busses, trains and metros within a town or city, but not on long-distance transport. The €365 ticket was introduced to the cities of Bonn and Reutlingen at start of the year as a pilot scheme to test its effectiveness. Munich is also looking at ways to fund the scheme, while Berlin's mayor Michael Müller has pushed for a similar scheme in the capital. Essen, Herrenberg and Mannheim will also receive funding to see if affordable public transport costs can persuade commuters to leave their cars behind.
The proposal is modelled on an existing scheme in Vienna. In the Austrian capital, annual public transport tickets cost €365 and out of a population of less than 2 million, 800,000 people use them. As a consequence, public transport is cheaper and faster than the car and parking spaces have been moved to the suburbs.
While the scheme sounds attractive, it could face some challenges in Germany. For example, if more people start using public transport, providers will need to expand public transport networks to cope with increased demand. So while the German government is committed to what it calls the Verkehrswende, the green revolution of its transport sector, it's not clear yet when, or even if, the SDP's proposals will be backed by the German government.