BERLIN — Germany’s Liberal Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Wednesday backtracked on his adamant opposition to maintaining a cut-price national public transport ticket, but warned that the country’s 16 regions must draw up a plan to maintain it.
Over the summer, a government program aimed at mitigating inflation and reducing energy consumption allowed Germans to buy a single, subsidized ticket valid on all metros, buses, trams and regional trains in the country for only €9 per month.
The policy, generally welcomed despite many overcrowded trains, cost €2.5bn to fund and Lindner had previously ruled out an extension beyond August, saying a permanent system would cost €14bn. euros per year.
But on the last day of validity for existing tickets, and with 52 million tickets sold nationwide, Lindner’s stance softened.
“[Transport Minister] Volker Wissing convinced me,” he said on social media following a council of ministers. A future digital ticket can be developed at a “fraction of the cost”, the leader of the Liberal Democrats (FDP) said, while indicating that the 16 regions of the country must now come up with a plan.
“When the issue of funding is clear, the [ticket] the price can be set,” Lindner said.
Speaking on national radio earlier on Wednesday, Wissing, who is also Lindner’s FDP, gave regional capitals the responsibility of finding a unified tariff system. “You can’t expect the feds to just put money on the table if the fed states have no idea what the new note should look like,” Wissing said.