If we are going to break our decades-old dependence on cars, then public transit will have to play a big role. And there is good news out of Germany on that front: the country launched a program that makes train travel a lot cheaper and more accessible — and people are flocking to it.
The new Germany Ticket (aka Deutschland-Ticket or D-Ticket for short) allows customers to use all local and regional trains as well as buses and metros throughout the country for a mere 49 euros (roughly $50) per month.
Only long-distance intercity trains are excluded from the deal. Public transit companies say that more than 3 million people have already bought the pass, according to the Associated Press.
Germany tried a similar program last year that cost only 9 euros, but officials apparently decided that that price was just too low. Still, 49 euros per month is a significant improvement from what public transit would cost otherwise, encouraging many more Germans to ditch cars in favor of transit options that produce much less planet-heating gas per person.
Standard ticket prices in Germany vary by company and fare type, typically costing between about 19 euros and 109 euros per individual trip.
A typical passenger vehicle emits about 5 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to the EPA. And that’s in addition to the methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Although electric vehicles (EVs) are much more environmentally friendly, producing no tailpipe emissions, they still carry a significant environmental impact from the mining for battery materials, as well as from the production and distribution of the cars themselves.
Simply put, there currently is no more environmentally friendly way to travel long (non-bikeable) distances than by making use of public transportation.
According to an article from UCLA Transportation, taking public transportation reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 45%, compared with driving alone. And governments like Germany are the institutions that have the power to ensure that public transit is reliable and accessible to as many people as possible.
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