Berlin, Vienna and Munich are taking sharply different views on whether making public transit cheap will lure drivers out of their cars and reduce pollution and congestion.
Vienna has offered an annual transit pass that covers unlimited travel on its trams, buses and subways for €1 a day since 2012, and has seen significant rises in transit use and lower car use. It's adding a new incentive: transit riders can accumulate points that can be used for free tickets to concerts and museums. An app tracks travel, and awards points for every 20kg of CO2 saved, the equivalent of two weeks without commuting by car.
Berlin's mayor Michael Müller announced last year that he had been inspired by the Vienna price plan and wants to introduce it in Berlin, where the cheapest all-you-can-eat ticket is now €728, or nearly twice the €1 a day annual ticket. Müller is urging his Social Democratic party to make the plan a national focus.
Some federal funding is available for pilot projects, but Bavaria's transport minister strongly urged Berlin not to apply; Munich already turned down the idea. The minister argues that the low fare is not what accounts for Vienna's success, but expanding service and raising parking fees, and suggested that Berlin do the same.