Blog#41: Let’s Ride: With the New Austrian KlimaTicket

October 21, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
Tuesday this coming week week will be THE most magic of days - at least for those of us in Austria who would love to see public transport used for more if not for most trips that people take. As of October 26, each and every train, bus and tram will be all yours if you have bought one of the new Austrian Klima Tickets (Climate ticket). Hailed as a revolution in public transport, the tickets have been available already since October 1 - at Austria’s public transport ticket stores as well as online - but it’s only next Tuesday that the All-Rides-All-year-All-Trains-Trams-and-Buses ticket can be used for the first time.
Most of us in Vienna are very familiar with the general idea: You pay once - in Vienna it’s Euro 365 per year, or one euro a day - and the rest of the year you don’t need to worry about purchasing public transport tickets. Your annual pass (Jahresausweis) takes you everywhere in town. The Klima Ticket takes this concept one huge step forward, both in reach and in cost: For Euro 1095 (or Euro 821 if you are under 26 or over 64) you get to travel as often as you want on all trains, buses and trams across the entire country.  Attention: If you buy your ticket before October 31st, i.e. in the next 9 days, you can save up to Euro 150 and get the ticket for Euro 949 (Euro 699). 

 

Foto: The new KlimaTicket - valid on all trains, trams and buses in Austria - will be valid as of this Tuesday, October 26.  Hurry, there is a great discount for tickets purchased before October 31.

Well, on my end, I have answered the question with yes. I already pay for the Vienna ticket some Euro 365, and the remaining 600 Euro I would probably easily spend on my regular weekend trips into Niederoesterreich’s  mountains (typically at least Euro 20 per weekend for some 10+ weekends) and the within-Austria share of my quarterly trips out of the country. On top of that, there are the additional rides I will probably decide to take now that I have this luxury: Having bought the ticket once - will I end up doing more trips by train than beforehand? Certainly, the Austrian tourism agency is trying to convince us all to do this - check out the Bahn zum Berg (Train to Trail) website for great ideas for hiking tours and walking outings, conveniently within reach by public transport.
Our dear Environment Ministry here in Vienna has spent the better part of the last 18 months negotiating with the various Austrian transport authorities to make the KlimaTicket possible, yet such annual train passes were not invented here. Switzerland’s General Abonnement - or GA in brief - has been around for some time even though it would set you back much more heftily, at CHF 3860 (CHF 2880 for seniors) a pop. Interestingly, even though it costs about three times of what we will pay for something similar here in Austria, it turns out that the Swiss absolutely love their GA: More than 500,000 people purchased it last year, and there is even a tourist version that lets you take - for one month in the summer - all buses, trains and boats for CHF 330. In Germany, there is something similar - even more expensive and less convenient: The Bahncard100 lets you travel - for Euro 4027 - on all trains as often as you want. Meant for truly frequent travelers, the Bahncard100 is limited to using just trains, though.  In contrast, both Austria’s KlimaTicket and the Swiss GA include also any bus and tram (and in Switzerland even boats and some mountain cableways).

 
Foto: My new best friend - the Austrian Train Ticket website: As a prospective owner for the new Climate Ticket, I will now regularly check out new destinations, accessible by public transport.

All of these arrangements have, of course, one thing in common: They aim to get us out of our cars and into public transport. How? The general idea is that consumers - when paying a flat rate - want to maximize the benefits of what they pay for and thus end up taking more trips on train, bus or tram. In Vienna itself this has worked in the past: With the introduction of the Annual Ticket for Euro 365, use of public transport grew and is now at 38% of all trips taken - compared to just 27% in Berlin or 23% in Munich.  Here in Vienna, about half of the population purchases the right for unlimited mobility within city bounds. On a countrywide basis, Switzerland’s experience with the GA is promising - and I would much hope that we can get ourselves to become more avid public transport users also here in Austria.
The devil is, as always, in the details. What if most of your trips are regional - such as in Vienna, Niederoesterreich and the Burgenland?  Well, they are also introducing an Eastern Region or VOR Klima Ticket - for Euro 915 (Euro 648). What if you already have a Vienna Annual ticket?  Well, you can have this accounted for when buying your new Austria KlimaTicket.  What about taking bicycles or dogs?  Hmmm. Dogs are part of the deal in Niederoesterreich, but I have not figured out what the rules are elsewhere.  Many such questions need to be sorted out when they come up, and it seems that somme will vary by region. 

Foto: The Vienna Jahreskarte automatically "integrates" with the new Klimaticket, and payments already made will be accounted for - but you will have to go in person to one of the Ticket locations to make the arrangements. 

As a community of faith, we are committed to reducing our environmental footprint - so some of us may consider this new option as a pathway to changing our own behaviors. In the meantime, there are of course many other reasons for people of faith to choose public transport over taking our car. My mum used to pray her rosaries when in the train, and she could tell some of the distances by the number of prayers she got done … These days, people may listen to podcasts, including perhaps the Christ Church Service podcast that Robert thas made available to all of us. Yet, despite all the new prayer and meditation options involved, becoming a KlimaTicket owner still feels like a big shift. But I think I am in. I probably will keep tabs of my trips for a year - just to report back whether it indeed worked and got me out of the car more often.  What about you?
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