Mobility Policy

    The updated Passenger Transportation Act

    The updated Passenger Transportation Act

    The updated Passenger Transportation Act

    An important first step

    The Passenger Transportation Act (PBefG) regulates the conditions under which companies can offer commercial passenger transportation in Germany. Up until now, it only covered traditional forms of transport, such as local public transport or taxi cabs. Previously, such innovative mobility services as ride sharing were only permitted in Germany for a limited period as part of pilot projects and as exceptional cases for experimentation purposes. To meet the requirements of modern mobility, the law was modernized in 2021.

    However, with the goal of sustainable mobility in mind, a comprehensive approach to reform would have made sense. For example, a fundamental amendment of the law focusing on competitiveness would have helped to place greater emphasis on customers and their options, while creating the same conditions for all mobility offerings. However, policymakers decided to retain the basic structure of the PbefG instead and only implement minor reforms. Nevertheless, this reform is still an important first step and the new law represents a pragmatic compromise within the confines of what is currently politically feasible. It creates legal certainty for mobility service providers and thus, also, for new offerings from companies within the automotive industry.  

    Implementation needs to allow innovative offerings

    It is now a question of putting the new legal framework into practice in a pragmatic way that promotes innovation. The new law creates a number of new regulatory options for local licensing authorities, affecting self-service ride-sharing offers, for instance. These can be limited in terms of time, space, or quantity, and, in addition, ride-sharing providers will be subject to a bundling quota, limiting the transportation of individual passengers only. These regulatory options must not be used to restrict the business models of private providers and thus effectively deny new providers access to the market. Instead, it is important to set the conditions in such a manner that new offerings are enabled and not simply refused by way of regulations. The ultimate implementation of the new Passenger Transportation Act and the novel legal framework now needs to be closely monitored and evaluated.

    Abolish fiscal inequalities

    One thing is certain: There is a need for further regulation of the tax conditions. The Passenger Transportation Act differentiates between ride-sharing services as part of public transport and as self-service services.  

    Ride sharing in public transport is subject to the reduced sales tax rate, while the full rate applies to self-service providers. However, by bundling journeys, which is in the provider's own business interest, and by using environmentally friendly vehicle types, ride sharing generally contributes to relieving traffic congestion and reducing emissions. For this reason, pooling services should also be subject to the lower sales tax rate regardless of the operator – the same as buses, trains, and taxi cabs.  

    Discriminating against these pooling services, compared to public transport pooling, is neither comprehensible nor expedient.

    Contact person

    Dr. Michael Niedenthal

    Head of Transport Policy Department

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