Local transport: countries fear huge deficits - politics

It should actually be weeks of good news for local transport. By mid-October, federal and state governments want to agree on how they can lure Germans into buses and trains after the nine-euro ticket from the turn of the year with a new and not too expensive nationwide ticket. Strong passenger growth should help solve the country's climate problems. But now the hopes for a quick solution are getting dampened.

Because the federal states go according to information from Süddeutsche Zeitung from greater financial problems in local transport than previously known. "By 2031, a total deficit of over 30 billion euros will build up in the current financial planning of the federal states," says an evaluation of the federal states on September 5th. So far, the federal states had put the deficit for this year and next year at a good three billion euros and demanded these sums from the federal government. The new calculations make it clear that high additional payments could become necessary not only over two, but over ten years. The financial dispute between the federal and state governments is likely to intensify, and a solution for the ticket could become even more difficult.

Local transport in Germany suffers from high fuel, raw material and labor costs, among other things. The deficit is the result of the sharply rising costs of "energy, personnel and material", the paper continues. The countries warn urgently about the consequences of the deficits for passengers. "The funds made available so far in the regionalization law are not sufficient to finance the status quo of existing traffic." In plain language, this should mean: Without additional money from the federal government, bus or train lines would have to be discontinued or intervals thinned out.

In view of tight budgets, Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) sees little opportunity to suddenly release many billions for local transport. This poses a dilemma. The results of the working group are an interim conclusion, according to the countries. The final deficits are likely to be larger rather than smaller. This is because not all countries have taken the sharply rising costs into account in their deliveries.

Passenger numbers could even drop

For the federal government cuts in local transport would be bad news. Your goal of doubling the number of passengers in local transport by 2030 to achieve your own legally defined climate targets would hardly be achievable if so much money was missing and transport companies had to save. The number of passengers would probably even drop if the offer was worse.

The financial misery is likely to become a central point of the prime ministers' conference in Berlin on Wednesday. Then the federal states want to talk to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) about financing the €65 billion relief package. In the federal states, there is dissatisfaction with the fact that the federal government had also decided to relieve citizens at their expense. The federal government had also determined a state contribution of 1.5 billion euros for the successor discount ticket in local transport without consultation.

The traffic light coalition is still pushing the pace. She wants to introduce individual elements of the package to the Bundestag in the coming weeks. These include the dampening of the cold progression, the reduction in VAT on gas and citizen income.

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich emphasized that it is a joint task of the federal, state and local governments to relieve people in the face of the sharp rise in energy prices. He rejected criticism from the federal states, such as Baden-Württemberg's Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) and the Bavarian Prime Minister and CSU leader Markus Söder. "The states have a high tax revenue, they have a duty to their citizens."

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