49-Euro-Ticket in the EU Comparison: What Public Transport Offers Exist in Other Countries?

The 49-euro ticket has demonstrated the growing importance of public transport, not just in Germany but across the EU. How do other EU countries manage public transport and long-distance travel? Here is an overview of current developments.

Countries Overview:

  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Hungary
  • Estonia
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta


Austria is renowned for its well-developed public transport system. Per capita investment in rail infrastructure was 319 euros in 2022, with only Luxembourg, neighboring Switzerland, and Norway ahead in this ranking. For comparison, Germany's per capita investment in rail was 114 euros in 2022.

Since October 26, 2021, Austrian National Day, travelers can use almost all public transport in Austria with the KlimaTicket Ö. This annual ticket costs 1,095 euros, approximately 91 euros per month or three euros per day. Discounts are available for juniors, seniors, and people with disabilities.

The KlimaTicket Ö allows for a year's use of all regional, interregional, and nationwide public and private rail transport, including long-distance trains like Railjet and ICE, as well as the WestBahn, city transport, and transport associations. Excluded are tourist services like the Waldviertelbahn, Wachaubahn, Schneebergbahn, and Schafbergbahn.

Additionally, regional KlimaTickets can be purchased, with implementation and design varying by federal state. In Vienna or Salzburg, the annual KlimaTicket costs 365 euros, in Styria 468 euros, and for the entire eastern region (Vienna, Lower Austria, Burgenland) 860 euros.

From November 27, 2023, the Austrian KlimaTicket is also available as a digital ticket, accessible through the apps of ÖBB, Westbahn, or Wiener Linien.

Starting in 2024, young adults can receive the nationwide KlimaTicket for free once on their 18th birthday, with three years to claim it. This initiative aims to encourage young people to use public transport and promote more climate-friendly mobility behavior.

By the end of 2023, a total of 272,000 people were using the Austrian KlimaTicket.


Swiss railways are often ranked among the best in the world, with a per capita investment of 450 euros in rail in 2022. While Germany struggles with punctuality and strikes, Swiss trains run almost flawlessly on time.

Switzerland, with 8.5 million inhabitants, has 2.25 million customers with a "Halbtax" subscription for 185 francs, similar to Germany's Bahncard 50, which only has half a million customers despite ten times the population.

However, Swiss public transport is expensive compared to other European countries. Monthly or annual passes ("Generalabonnement") are available for all public transport, costing 3,860 francs (3,905 euros) annually, about 6 euros per day. Discounts are offered for people under 26, people with disabilities, and seniors.


France recently ended plans for a 49-euro ticket similar to Germany's. Instead, the French transport minister announced a holiday pass for young people to explore the country by regional and intercity trains in the summer.

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The Netherlands has a simple ticketing system, the OV-Chipkaart, allowing purchase of monthly or annual passes for all public transport on a single card. However, prices are higher than in most countries with similar tickets.

Known as pioneers in cycling, the Netherlands have the fourth-lowest public transport usage among EU countries. Students can travel free on weekdays and weekends, and seniors receive about a third off train fares.


Belgium's ticketing system allows all tickets on one card. For an all-region and all-transport ticket, passengers must book four separate tickets: one for national rail, one for Brussels public transport (MITB/STIB), one for buses and trams in Wallonia (TEC), and one for buses and trams in Flanders (DeLijn).

Though cheaper than buying individual tickets, an annual pass for all of Belgium still costs over 5,000 euros, making it unaffordable for most.


From early 2020 to December 2023, Spain offered free monthly passes to reduce living costs and encourage public transport use. Tourists could also use this offer.

The subscription allowed up to 4 trips per day on regional and suburban lines but excluded most high-speed trains. Free subscriptions were also extended to state-run bus lines to avoid asymmetry between different transport modes.

However, there is no single unified ticket for all public transport in Spain.


Following Germany and Hungary's lead, Portugal introduced a 49-euro monthly ticket on August 1, 2023. The National Railway Pass allows travel across the country but excludes certain services like Alfa Pendular, Intercidades, InterRegional, and city transport in Porto, Lisbon, and Coimbra. Buses and some regions are also excluded.


Hungary introduced its first nationwide public transport ticket simultaneously with Germany on May 1, 2023, costing around 50 euros for 30 days. It covers trains (except those requiring reservations, like InterCity) and regional buses but not local transport. Students receive a 90% discount, and seniors over 65 travel free with just an ID.


Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, has offered free public transport for residents since 2013, making it the first European capital to do so. This move resulted in significant financial benefits for Tallinn, attracting 35,000 people from surrounding areas between 2013 and 2018, generating up to 20 million euros annually. Surrounding municipalities, however, faced financial losses.

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In these countries public transport is completely free to use


In March 2020, Luxembourg became the first country in Europe to offer free public transport for all, including tourists, except for first-class travel. Despite this, it hasn't significantly shifted car users to public transport, possibly because over 200,000 cross-border commuters from Germany, Belgium, and France still need expensive tickets for their home countries.


Since October 1, 2022, Malta offers free public transport except for express bus lines and the ferry between the main islands. This applies only to residents; tourists still pay regular fares. Previously, free transport was available for 14- to 20-year-olds, students over 21, people with disabilities, and seniors over 70.

Though public transport is free, passengers need a personalized Tallinja card for statistical tracking, aiding service improvements.

Germany in Greenpeace Public Transport Ranking

A Greenpeace study compared public transport attractiveness in 30 European countries. Complicated fares and high prices hinder public transport use in most countries. Germany ranked fourth, boosted by the 49-euro ticket, behind Luxembourg, Malta, and Austria.

The study concludes that bus and rail services in most countries are not attractive enough to significantly shift people from cars. Exceptions are Luxembourg and Malta (free transport), Austria, Hungary, and now Germany (affordable nationwide tickets).

Greenpeace ranked based on ticket prices and structures, not service quality. Cyprus, Spain, and Switzerland also performed well, while Greece, Croatia, and Bulgaria were at the bottom.

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Stefan Wendering
Stefan is a freelance author and editor at NAVIT. Previously, he worked for startups and in the mobility sphere. He is an expert in urban and sustainable mobility, employee benefits, and New Work. In addition to creating blog content, he also produces marketing materials, taglines, and website content, as well as case studies.
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