Vbb decides on new tariffs: trouble at the ticket machine

The transport authority has pushed through a moderate increase in ticket prices. Only in the coalition this was not agreed. A weekly commentary.

Price question: Maybe it’s better to subscribe? Photo: imago images / Schoning

The election campaign has long since begun in the red-red-green coalition, including transport policy. The current bone of contention is called public transport financing: Only three weeks ago, the SPD had the climate package of the green environment and transport senator Regine Gunther burst, with a subsequent and rather scathing criticism of city tolls and massively increased parking fees. The former is not even a done deal, but is only being traded as a possibility to raise fresh money for the expansion of local transport.

Instead, the Social Democrats want to include in the package the idea of a 365-euro ticket brought up by the governing mayor, Michael Muller – which, however, would drive up the financial requirements even more.

In this week it was then the tariff adjustment decided on Wednesday in the traffic group Berlin Brandenburg (VBB) – speak: Price increase – for buses and courses, which upset first the left. Their transport-political parliamentary group speaker Kristian Ronneburg communicated, it considers the tariff increase in the VBB for wrong. Under the conditions of the continuing corona pandemic, it will place an additional burden on those people in particular who are dependent on public transport on a daily basis in so-called system-relevant professions." Above all, however, it "makes it more difficult for people to switch from cars to buses and trains, which we are striving for in the course of the necessary transport turnaround".

On closer inspection, the supposed impositions turn out to be quite harmless – especially since, after zero increases in 20, there had already been only cautious increases in the current year, from which subscription customers were spared.

This time, too, only occasional users will be affected. The season ticket subscriptions remain stable, with the exception of the discounted "65+" subscription, which will cost 624 instead of 612 euros per year. The environmental ticket (monthly ticket AB) will increase in single sales from 84 to 86 euros, the one-way ticket AB from 2.90 to 3 euros and the day ticket from 8.60 to 8.80 euros. The utility value of the latter has increased considerably: it no longer loses its validity at 3 a.m. on the following day, but only after 24 hours. Not too much of an imposition, really, especially since last year’s collective wage agreement for drivers and the Coron crisis are tearing holes in transport companies’ budgets.

The fact that the coalition partners are sniffy is also something the Green administration has brought on itself. Tino Schopf, transport policy spokesman for the SPD faction, doesn’t think the adjustment is wrong in large parts, but is still annoyed: about the more expensive subscription for 65+ and the erratic communication of the transport administration. "Actually, it was agreed that the price of all subscriptions would remain stable," says Schopf. "And that we had to find out about the decision from the press is an absurdity." After all, Berlin’s Secretary of State for Transport Ingmar Streese is also deputy head of the VBB Supervisory Board, he said.

There will be some more skirmishes within the coalition on the issue of public transport financing, that much is certain. The publication of the feasibility study on expanded public transport financing could help to defuse the debate – it has actually been available for months, but has still not been published. This is now "shortly" the case. It remains to be seen how the traffic administration defines "shortly" this time.

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