The announcement that passengers will soon be paying more for public transport in Munich has been met with dismay. The final decision as to the extent of the price increase will be announced after a general transport meeting in just under three weeks.
Users of the tram, bus, S-Bahn and U-Bahn networks can expect to be paying more for transport from December onwards. A speaker from the Munich Transport and Tariff Association (MVV) said that there "...will be no price freeze..." and that a price increase was necessary in order to accommodate recent changes within the transport network. It is still unclear how high the prices are expected to climb and which transportation types which they will most likely affect.
The final decision will be made at a shareholders' meeting on the 21 September. The shareholders committee is made up of representatives from the city of Munich, the Bavarian State and eight additional participating districts.
The price increase will come into effect on 9 December. Representatives from the two largest transport associations, namely Deutsche Bahn (DB), which includes the S-Bahn network, and the Munich transport company (MVG), who are responsible for the U-Bahn, tram and bus networks, have recently stated that a price increase was essential. The main reasons given were the growing need for more personnel as well as increasing fuel costs.
The trade union Verdi and the German Train Drivers Union (GDL) successfully fought for a wage increase of 6.3 percent at the end of May. Meanwhile, the price for diesel climbed to an all-time high at the end of August to 1.55 euros per liter - an increase of 6 percent in one year. Even if large companies such as the MVG or the regional bus company can negotiate fuel discounts, they have said that it is still necessary to raise ticket prices to make up for losses.
However, residents who regularly make use of Munich's public transport are unhappy with the verdict. "In our view, an increase in ticket prices is not justified," said Andreas Naegel from the Aktion Münchner Fahrgäste. He expressed disappointment that improvements in the tram network promised by the MVG have not been implemented. This spring, a new model of tram, the 'Variobahn', was introduced, but there are currently not enough of the new models to replace the older ones. Nagel also points out that the MVV has recently experienced an increase in passenger numbers and, as a result, a price increase seems unnecessary.
Wolfram Liebscher from the ecologically orientated Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) does not categorically reject the proposal saying that a price increases, "in accordance with current inflation rates," were "appropriate". Nevertheless, he expressed concern that high public transport costs may lead to passengers seeking alternative options.
A further rise in prices is also being considered in addition to the one planned for December. The second would take place in December 2013 alongside possible timetable changes. Nagel notes that this would enable the people responsible for the MVV to evade dealing with this topic before the election campaign in summer 2013. The MVV previously raised prices in 2011 and 2010 by 2.3 percent and 2.8 respectively.
It will also be interesting to see whether MVG Leader Herbert König will be successful in pushing through his suggestion that there should be a separate 'City Ticket' valid for Munich's city centre. The MVG claims it is at a disadvantage because of the offers currently available by the MVV. With a separate city ticket the MVG would be able to attract more passengers. The VCD, however, rejects the idea. They claim a better solution would be to improve the quality of the networks so that more trains can be put into use on heavily used lines. This would result in more customer satisfaction, more passenger usage and ultimately more revenue.