Baden-Württemberg: Many cities cannot afford free public transport

His big dream is free public transport in Tübingen.

Baden-Württemberg: Many cities cannot afford free public transport

His big dream is free public transport in Tübingen. What Mayor Palmer has not yet achieved there, Stuttgart is now realizing. At least for his employees.

Stuttgart (dpa / lsw) - From April 2023, around 24,000 employees in the state capital of Stuttgart and its companies should be able to travel by bus and train free of charge. "We want to become even more attractive as an employer with this extremely strong offer in times of a shortage of skilled workers and also make an important contribution to the switch to local public transport," said Mayor Frank Nopper (CDU). How are other municipalities doing? A survey by the German Press Agency gives a mixed picture.

In Tübingen there are currently no plans for a project like the one in Stuttgart. Free public transport for everyone there has been under discussion for many years and is a wish from Mayor Boris Palmer (Greens). "In addition to the concrete implementation, the financing has not yet been clarified," said a city spokeswoman. The ticket-free Saturday has been implemented: Since February 2018, bus travel on Saturdays has been free. The city council takes over the loss of income for the municipal utilities by decision of the municipal council.

In the first quarter of 2023, the city of Böblingen wants to evaluate the regulations for promoting the use of local public transport. According to a city spokesman, this also includes the use of bicycles and pedelecs on the way to work. "The current developments regarding the 49-euro ticket and their possible effects on funding will also be discussed here."

Employees received a local transport subsidy of 50 percent of the documented costs of annual, monthly or weekly tickets for trips between their place of work and home, or 25 cents per kilometer traveled for trips by bicycle or pedelec. According to the Böblingen city spokesman, the costs for the employee public transport subsidy average around 40,000 euros a year.

According to a city spokeswoman, the DING (Donau-Iller-Nahverkehr) professional ticket has been available in Ulm for many years. Companies buy monthly tickets for their employees with a kind of major customer discount, which they pass on to their employees. The discount amounts to 57.5 percent of the monthly subscription price applicable to the city administration of Ulm. In all cases, the upper limit for the amount of the subsidy is currently 44 euros per month.

According to the Ulm city spokeswoman, there are currently no plans for ticket-free local transport again in Ulm/Neu-Ulm. Because of the major construction site in front of Ulm Central Station, from April 2019 to the end of December 2021, everyone could use the bus and tram on Saturdays without a ticket. "With the completion of the construction measures, the offer was discontinued as planned."

With the Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH (rnv) job ticket, companies and institutions in Heidelberg have the opportunity to organize the mobility of their employees. The city supports the program with up to 1000 euros, said a city spokeswoman.

According to a city spokeswoman, the city of Freiburg has been granting its employees a subsidy of 500 euros per year for the purchase of the job ticket since 2019, i.e. over 40 euros per month. "In general, however, the municipal associations fear that the financing of the Germany ticket is not secured after 2023 and see the risk that a co-financing contribution from the municipal side could become necessary."

In Konstanz, the employees of the municipal utility have received free tickets to use the city bus or ferry service for many years, as a city spokesman announced. For all other employees, the city grants a subsidy via the job ticket. Accordingly, the city bus ticket is subsidized with 30 euros per month. On average, this means a subsidy of 73 percent of the regular price. "Increasing the subsidy for the job ticket to 100 percent is not being discussed because of the current budgetary situation. There is a demand from a parliamentary group to introduce the 365-euro ticket, which has so far been rejected."

According to the city spokesman, the deficit in the city bus service in Constance was around 4.3 million euros in 2021. This includes around four million euros in grants from the public transport rescue package. Without the rescue package, the result would have been minus 8.4 million euros. "Further reductions would increase this deficit." In addition, it is expected that the costs for operating the city bus service (50 diesel buses, 8 electric buses) will rise significantly due to the rise in energy prices. The 49-euro ticket is financed independently of this by the federal and state governments.