Foreigners Struggle to Purchase Germany’s €49 Deutschlandticket
Germany’s popular €49 Deutschlandticket aims to provide affordable and easy access to public transportation throughout the country. Since its launch in May, the ticket has been a resounding success, with a 25 percent increase in passenger numbers on regional trains. However, some foreigners have faced challenges in purchasing the ticket due to issues related to their IBAN (International Bank Account Number). This article delves into the problem of “IBAN discrimination” and explores how it affects certain customers with foreign bank accounts.
IBAN Discrimination and Payment Challenges
The €49 Deutschlandticket is processed through the SEPA direct debit scheme, which sometimes results in problems for customers with foreign bank accounts. When entering their non-German IBANs, customers often receive an error message and are unable to proceed with the purchase. The German standard affects customers from Belgium, Lithuania, and Poland due to differing IBAN formats.
Prohibited Practice under EU Regulations
It is worth noting that the European SEPA regulation, in effect since 2014 across 36 European countries, prohibits the non-recognition of certain IBANs. IBANs must be accepted by banks, merchants, and authorities, ensuring a fair and consistent payment system for all. However, despite this regulation, some transportation companies in Germany have struggled to comply fully.
Transdev and Other Companies’ Role
Transdev, Germany’s second-largest railway and bus company, has been the primary target of complaints regarding the inability to purchase the €49 ticket with foreign bank details. Other companies, such as Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) and Wupsi, have also faced similar grievances. Deutsche Bahn, on the other hand, accepts foreign bank details, indicating that the issue lies within outdated IT systems and processing methods.
Actions Taken and Resolutions
The Central Office for Unfair Competition, also known as the Wettbewerbszentrale, has been investigating these cases and advocating for resolution. The association has successfully resolved most of the cases it addressed, leading to improved acceptance of foreign bank details by transportation companies. Transdev has acknowledged the problem and is working to rectify the situation, promising a solution to the IBAN discrimination issue.
State by State Discounts on the €49 Ticket
In addition to the main nationwide €49 ticket, some German states are planning to offer discounted versions to specific groups:
- Baden-Württemberg: Offers a youth ticket for people aged 21 or under with unlimited travel within the state for just €1 a day.
- Bavaria: Plans to provide students and apprentices in the state a discounted version of the €49 ticket, costing €29 a month, and valid for nationwide travel.
- Berlin and Brandenburg: Negotiating a €29 monthly ticket for the inner-city area. Brandenburg will allow dogs on public transport with the €49 ticket at no extra charge.
- Bremen: Discussing a possible €29 ticket for students and trainees, but details are yet to be finalized.
- Hamburg: Offers various discounts, including a €19 ticket for schoolchildren and a €29 ticket for apprentices, both valid nationwide.
- Hesse: Introducing a reduced ticket for statewide transport for people on benefits at €31 a month.
- Mecklenburg-West Pomerania: Working on a €365 per year “pensioner ticket” for pensioners living in the state and valid nationwide.
- Lower Saxony: Rolling out a discounted version of the €49 ticket at €30 a month for certain groups, and planning a discounted version for students and trainees in 2024.
- North-Rhine Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate: Discussions ongoing about introducing discounts for various groups.
- Saarland: Offering the “Junge-Leute” ticket for young people at €30.40 per month, and a reduced ticket for low-income individuals at €39.
- Thuringia: Working on a discounted student semester ticket for nationwide travel. Considering a €28 ticket for students and trainees, potentially valid nationwide.
The €49 Deutschlandticket is welcome, but IBAN discrimination must be addressed quickly for fair access to transportation. Transportation companies, like Transdev, must update their IT systems to accommodate all valid IBAN formats. Meanwhile, various German states are exploring discounted ticket options, ensuring that transportation remains accessible to all citizens and visitors alike.
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