The 9 euro ticket is a ticket for everyone? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that!

I used the 9-euro regional train ticket in Brandenburg twice in July: once into my vacation, once out of my vacation. Twice I got into an argument with the railway staff. With two different people, but it was the same problem every time.

The 9-euro ticket reveals that there are different social positions that people in our class society hold and that these are associated with different privileges. This ticket shows that not only the price can be a hurdle when buying a ticket, but also the social position from which the ticket purchase is made. Because the ticket is only valid if the person who buys it has an official ID document.

The ticket is not transferable, it must be provided with a name. According to the rules, only those who can prove the state-recognized existence of the name on the ticket with a document may start a journey with their ticket. You can read about the provision in the Deutsche Bahn conditions of carriage – on your own initiative if you were not informed of this at the time of purchase.

Homeless people often do not have a photo document

Apart from the fact that every seventh adult in Germany is functionally illiterate and therefore cannot easily read the conditions independently, quite a few people live in Germany who do not have an official identification document. It is often people who are affected by multiple discrimination, ie who neither read the regulation nor can identify themselves.

According to Caritas, 18,000 to 520,000 people live in Germany without a residence permit, residence permit or toleration. The Federal Working Group for Homeless Aid (BAG W) also counted 417,000 people without a home in 2020. Homelessness is often, although not necessarily, accompanied by the fact that people do not have an official photo ID. This phenomenon can usually also be explained by multiple discrimination, because these are often people for whom the hurdles that have to be overcome in order to get such a document from the Citizens’ Registration Office are insurmountable.

During my two journeys through Saxony, the ticket inspection always showed that the 9-euro ticket is not a ticket for everyone. The railway staff decided to ask for ID to verify the names on the tickets. Each time, passengers could not prove their names with a document.

The passengers bought a new ticket together

For such cases, the BAG W (Federal Working Group for Homeless Aid) had called on the staff of the transport alliances to show friendliness and goodwill. The transport companies have handed over the responsibility to their employees to decide whether enforcing the regulation is appropriate or not. The rigor with which it is enforced depends on the respective controllers.

On my rides, the staff each time chose to hit them hard. They accused the respective passengers of fraud. I had the power and privilege to intervene. The passengers did not have to pay for a new ticket and were not stopped from their journey by the federal police. Once others finally got involved and bought a new ticket together. Once, my fellow travelers watched and whispered behind closed hands. I heard them wondering how one could go on a trip without a health insurance card.

A real ticket for everyone? In a neoliberal, late-capitalist country, in which the distribution of goods and privileges is based on people with more capital having easier access, that probably doesn’t work. Nevertheless, in this reality in which we happen to live, we can have a say in how we understand the community. People with privilege need to look with the vigor needed when others are excluded and paraded. We can decide to claim a 9 euro ticket for everyone.

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