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Andreas Kluth

Should Your Buses, Trams and Trains Be Free?

Germany's experiment with a 9-euro all-you-can-ride public transport ticket should get global attention.

Peace, for 9 euros.

Peace, for 9 euros.

Photographer: Westend61 via Getty Images

Like everybody I know in Germany, I bought the so-called 9-euro ticket this summer. Three, in fact — one each for June, July and August. I put the QR codes in my cell phone’s digital wallet, and was free to hop on and off all buses, trams, local and regional trains nationwide. In a country that specializes in making things complicated, getting around was suddenly simple. 

This all-you-can-ride ticket — for about $9 — was a huge experiment that deserves a look from other countries groping for policies against climate change. The impetus was this year’s surge in inflation and, in particular, the energy shock. In response, the German government passed a raft of measures meant to soften the blow to people’s finances. The 9-euro ticket was one.