Bonn. It sounds good: bus and train travel for only one Euro a day. The season ticket has been on offer since the start of the year in Bonn, one of the five model cities supported by the federal government. However, passenger associations think the implementation of the idea has not worked.
Bus and train travel for the equivalent of one Euro a day: nine months after its introduction, the 365 Euro annual ticket has met with a rather subdued response. Almost 6000 of the 17,000 available annual tickets have been sold so far, said a spokesperson for Stadtwerke Bonn (SWB), which sells the 365 Euro ticket. Initially, demand was high, but it fell continuously in the following months. According to a spokesperson, the city is nevertheless happy with the response. By contrast, the passenger association Pro Bahn criticises the offer as not attractive enough.
“The way it is implemented in Bonn doesn’t make much sense,” says Hans-Werner Ignatowitz, chairman of the Rhineland regional association. The ticket, for a fixed period of twelve months, is only available to new customers. It is only valid in the Bonn city area and not for connecting tickets. “The ticket is therefore useless to commuters,” criticises Ignatowitz. The Traffic Club VCD already complained in February that there was no advertising campaign for the climate ticket.
95 per cent of the costs – around 18 million Euros – are borne by the federal government, five per cent by the city. The federal government is providing a total of 37.6 million Euros to the city of Bonn for the two year “Lead City” project. The city spokesperson said the remaining money would be used to finance a discounted 24 hour ticket for five people, a new job ticket model and more frequent services, among other things.
The five selected model cities in which various projects are being tested to encourage more people to switch from cars to more environmentally friendly forms of transport are Essen, Reutlingen, Herrenberg and Mannheim, as well as Bonn. In Essen, for example, a more frequent timetable and discounted prices for certain tickets would be financed with the help of the 21 million Euro subsidy, said a spokeswoman for Ruhrbahn. Reutlingen has also been testing the 365-euro ticket since the start of the year.
The idea for a 365-euro annual ticket comes from Vienna, where it was introduced in 2012. In the Bundestag, the SPD recently advocated the nationwide introduction of such a ticket. “Before this is done, the local transport offer must first be expanded,” said Pro Bahn representative Ignatowitz. This was also the case in Vienna. Making tickets cheaper should only be the second step, because otherwise the local public transport system would not withstand a sudden surge in passengers.
(Original text: DPA. Translation: kc)