The 9-euro ticket proves to be a bestseller in NRW in the first month. The cheap ticket is popular, especially on weekends. The transport associations expect it to stay that way in July and August. But there are also downsides.
Essen (dpa / lnw) - The 9-euro ticket for nationwide use of local public transport is proving to be a bestseller among people in North Rhine-Westphalia. In the first three months, the cheap ticket on the Rhine and Ruhr was very well received, according to the local transport associations. In the Rhein-Ruhr transport association (VRR) alone, more than 1.8 million cheap monthly tickets were sold in June via apps, ticket shops, vending machines and customer centers.
When asked by the German Press Agency, the two other local transport associations of Westphalia-Lippe (NWL) and Rhineland (NVR) also reported a similarly large run on the special tickets. However, they have not yet been able to give any exact figures. "The 9-euro ticket has been well received by passengers in Westphalia," said NWL spokesman Uli Beele. A “significantly higher number of passengers” was noticed. The VRR assumes "that the sales figures will remain at a high level in the coming weeks" and therefore expects "many travelers traveling with the 9-euro ticket" in NRW during the summer holidays.
The driving pleasure was spoiled by partly heavily overloaded trains in regional traffic, especially in the regional express (RE) and the regional train (RB). According to the NVR, the routes to and from the tourist attractions were very busy on the long weekends over Pentecost and Corpus Christi. The greatest peak in demand is always on Friday afternoon between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. due to the "combination of commuters and weekend travelers", according to an initial conclusion by the NVR.
As reported by the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), around 21 million 9-euro tickets have been sold nationwide since the start of sales at the end of May. In addition, there are around ten million subscribers who automatically received the discounted ticket. The majority of customers do not use the ticket for excursions or vacation trips, but in everyday life, for example when driving to work.
The Pro Bahn North Rhine-Westphalia passenger association also drew an initial positive balance after 30 days. The ticket "certainly hits the nerve of the passengers," said state chairman Detlef Neuß on radio station WDR 5. The need is there, although in his opinion the price is not the main reason for the purchase, but the ticket is "impressively simple", so Neuss. "You can drive it all over Germany without having to remember network limits or tariff limits."
However, the joy about the bargain offer is also mixed with criticism. Fears about overcrowded trains and even trains being cleared came true, especially on main routes towards the North and Baltic Seas, in Bavaria, Berlin or on the Rhine and Ruhr. Also, the transport of bicycles was not guaranteed everywhere, according to Neuß. Those who have not headed for "a premium destination" such as Berlin or Hamburg have had good experiences. "The trains were full, but not overcrowded."
However, the ticket does not change the fact that the rail infrastructure is ailing and there are not enough wagons and staff, emphasized Neuss. "I can give out 150 liters of free beer. But if I only put out 12 glasses, it still doesn't work." The introduction of a permanently inexpensive ticket is only possible if more trains are purchased and the staff is increased.
The transport associations see similar problems. The NVR was not the only one to admit that taking bicycles with you on some routes proved to be "problematic" at peak times. The appeal to passengers is "to spread out over the entire length of a train on crowded platforms and not to stand in the area of the doors". This inevitably leads to delays. The experts recommend switching to the S-Bahn if necessary, as these are usually not as busy as regional trains.
Despite all the precautions, there will probably be “partly overloaded train stations and overcrowded trains” during the summer holidays, according to the forecast. Nevertheless, the NWL hopes that the bargain ticket can also help in the months of July and August to win new passengers for local public transport (ÖPNV) and to make bus and train aware as an alternative to the car". According to the VRR, the ÖPNV definitely get "a boost" with the 9-euro ticket.