Two countries have launched new public transport passes that allow you to use almost all bus and rail services without having to buy separate tickets.
Earlier this year, Germany introduced a new €49 public transport ticket that is valid on trains, buses and metro systems across the country.
Transport Minister Volker Wissing has called it the “biggest public transport reform in German history”.
Just days after being launched in May, public transport companies said that more than 3 million people had already snapped up the new Germany Ticket.
Demand was so high that state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn’s website crashed as thousands of people attempted to subscribe for the ticket.
On the same day, Hungary also introduced two types of new tickets allowing unlimited travel across the country. Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the scheme in his State of the Nation speech in February and the changes were introduced on 1 May.
So how do these nationwide tickets work and where can you travel using them? Here’s everything you need to know about Europe’s cheap public transport passes.
How does the Germany Ticket work?
The Deutschlandticket or ‘Germany Ticket’ offers unlimited travel on almost all of the country’s public transport for a set price each month.
Building on the popular €9 a month scheme which was available for three months last summer, it includes all city buses, subways and trams in municipalities across Germany.
When the travel pass was released, it was only valid on short and medium-distance transport including trains but not on long-distance trains operated by DB Fernverkehr AG (including RE) or other providers such as FlixTrain (IC, EC, ICE).
Now, the government has said it is considering expanding the scheme to some long-distance routes.
It comes after the Berlin-Brandenburg Transport Association granted permission for the pass to be used on services connecting Berling and the State of Brandenburg.
This means the pass will now be accepted on IC connections between Berlin Hbf-Elsterwerda and Potsdam Hbf-Cottbus as well as on the ICE connection Berlin Südkreuz-Prenzlau.
How much does the Deutschlandticket cost and how do you buy it?
Germany’s unlimited travel ticket will cost you €49 a month.
Despite being priced well below normal monthly rates, it is only available via a digital subscription which might make things more difficult for visitors to the country. It can be bought directly from Germany’s state-owned railway Deutsche Bahn or from local or regional transport providers.
You can sign up for the monthly subscription either online through their website or app or in person at a service centre. But the ticket is mostly digital with paper tickets only being accepted until the end of 2023. Instead, travellers can present their pass using their phone or with a special card.
Students can get a reduction on the price of the Deutschlandticket.
How does Hungary’s new public transport pass work?
There are two new types of travel cards now available in Hungary.
The national travel card allows you to use every bus and train line in Hungary operated by railway companies MÁV-START, MÁV-HÉV and GYSEV as well as services by the Volánbusz bus company.
The only exception is municipal services. So to catch the train in Budapest, for example, you’ll need to buy an extra ticket or a specific travel pass. You can, however, use them to catch intercity train and bus services that arrive in Budapest.
Hungary has also introduced county travelcards which allow you to use bus and rail services in one of the country’s 19 counties.
How much do Hungary’s travel cards cost?
The national travel card costs around €49 for 30 days with students receiving a massive 90 per cent reduction in the price.
The county travel card is slightly less at around €25 and also has a 90 per cent discount for students. If your journey crosses the border into another county, you’ll need to buy two passes making the national travel card a cheaper option.
Can tourists buy Hungary’s public transport passes?
A full-price county or national pass can be purchased by foreign citizens too so if you are planning on taking an extended trip to Hungary, it could be a worthwhile investment for international travellers.
If you are eligible for a discounted rate, with a valid student ID for example, you can also get this as a foreign citizen.
Where can you buy Hungary’s public transport passes?
The two tickets are available from more than 1,100 sale points across the country including MÁV-START ticket offices, vending machines and the MÁV app, at Volánbusz ticket offices, on board buses, and at GYSEV ticket offices.
You can find a map showing where to buy the tickets here.