A German initiative slashing summer train fares drove widespread use of public transit, helping avoid 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to an estimate from the Association of German Transport Companies.
The scheme, which began June 1 and ends today, allowed travelers to use all buses, trams, subways, and regional trains for just 9 euros a month, effectively cutting fares by more than 90 percent in some major cities. By discouraging car travel, the measure aimed to curb imports of Russian oil, reduce emissions, and aid commuters grappling with rising fuel costs.
Over the last three months, transit authorities sold some 52 million subsidized tickets, with one in five travelers using public transit for the first time, according to a survey from Deutsche Bahn and the Association of German Transport Companies. An estimated 10 percent of summer train journeys replaced trips that would have been made by car, the survey found. The effect on emissions was roughly equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off the road for the summer or planting close to 30 million trees.
“So the 9-euro ticket not only relieved citizens financially, but also had a clearly positive effect on the climate,” Oliver Wolff, CEO of the Association of German Transport Companies, said in statement. “The ticket has been very successful, and it’s worth thinking about continuing it.”
The German government has said it will not extend the subsidized ticket scheme, which has cost the state around 2.5 billion euros, Euronews reports, but policymakers are weighing other proposals for low-cost public transit, including a 365-euro pass that would cover the whole year or a plan where commuters pay in advance for miles traveled.
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Correction, September 1, 2022: An earlier headline on this story incorrectly stated that Germany’s lower-cost train fares prevented 1.8 billion tons of carbon emissions. The correct figure is 1.8 million, as noted in the text of the story.