23 Jan Semester Ticket during the pandemic
In the last weeks we get an increase in astonished or angry questions from students of our university, about the reason why, even in times of pandemia and distance-learning, the semester ticket for public transportation is still to be payed.
The Questions are getting more, why this “Mobility Fee” cannot be suspended or at least reduced or why there is no possibility to opt-out of getting the ticket and thus not having to pay, when the way to university is canceled in most cases and usage of public transportation is not possible without risk of infection.
As AStA we want to give a statement concerning those questions. This statement is intended to reach our students as well as politics and the public transportation companies.
1.Why do I have to pay the (entire) mobility fee in spite of only being able to a reduced usage of public transportation and not having to go to university on a regular basis?
The contract between us as student body and the VRR concerning the semesters ticket, which last time in 2015 in a referendum got an approval of over 80% of the participating students, unfortunately does not include any possibility to suspend or reduce the fee in times that only allow for a reduced usage of the services provided by it.
Looking back nobody could have expected a situation the likes of which we are in this year and as AstA we had talks with the public-transportation companies and tried to get concessions to get relieve for our students.
Sadly those efforts were not successful thus not giving us any other option then to collect the mobility fee in the same amount as in the last years.
To terminate the contract would not only have been lacking in solidarity for students who despite of the pandemia are still in need of the ticket but moreover it would have been impossible in the cancellation period which we contractually agreed upon.
For it being a far reaching decision we would have to have a referendum of the whole student body to legitimate it.
2. Why is there no option to opt-out of having the ticket? I am all for the ticket existing but I do not use it and therefor do not want to pay for it!
The semesters-ticket is based on the principle of solidarity. The comparatively low price of 151.98€ for the regional Ticket plus 57.40€ for the NRW option is only possible, because all students are required to pay for it. The monthly cost of the ticket is as low as 34.89€ per student. As a comparison: the price of the current alternative, the young ticket+ for the whole VRR Area, without NRW-Option, is a monthly 62.20€. Especially students with lower financial possibilities profit massively from the principle of solidarity. But for every other student the option to always use public transportation to make day trips, go to parties, concerts or other kinds of leisure activities is amazing as well. Moreover there is the possibility for students, who live farther away from the university to decide to study with us because of affordable transportation options.
The other big reason for us to always stand for the principle of the solidary ticket without an option to opt out of it are environmental concerns.
One of the principle ideas behind the ticket is to manage the usage of transportation options to reduce car-usage and favor public transportation.
Less cars on our streets are a big factor towards reduced CO2-Emissions and cleaner air for all of us. Additionally there are more free parking spaces for those who still insist on using their private car to get to university. Overall there is only winners.
Although it oftentimes feels differently, this pandemia will not be forever and we all hope soon to be able to be together in our university, to learn, live and party together. Getting rid of the Semester-ticket in its current form because of the pandemia would be a big error for social and environmental reasons.
4. But why is the ticket getting ever more expensive while not giving me more benefits?
As AstA we strongly critique the perpetual raises of the price for the semesters ticket. The growing semesters fee is a serious financial problem for a growing amount of students every year. For many among us this problem is getting much worse because they lost their jobs or the financial support of the family following the pandemia.
We therefore demand in the short term a considerable raise in financial help by the state and federal government for every student in need, a raised BAFÖG independent of heritage and families wealth and further possibilities to refund the mobility fee. This has to be made possible without big hurdels for the students.
In the long run those measures are not enough. The rising price of the ticket has structural reasons and especially in times of an ever increasing climate crisis we find it irresponsible to make environmentally friendly mobility more expensive for its users.
We demand a big increase in public spending for public transportation instead of more costly tickets together with a reform of administrative structures in public transportation.
It is absurd, that there are this big of an amount of companies for public transportation with their own executive boards and supervisory committees, all payed for by our mobility fees. We demand that those companies should merge to free financial resources to lower ticket prices and to increase the services.