Column declaration of love: away with the platform ticket

The Christian Democrats in Hamburg are making the already beleaguered SPD mayor Olaf Scholz look a little worse for wear.

In practice, the ticket is aimed less at revolutionaries than at beggars and the homeless Illustration: TOM

Hamburg’s CDU has landed a minor PR coup – one that makes the already beleaguered SPD mayor Olaf Scholz look a little worse for wear: it is calling for the abolition of the platform ticket on public transport. And the red-green Senate refuses.

That’s funny at first, because the platform ticket has long been linked in leftist memory with a Lenin quote: "Revolution in Germany? That will never happen. If these Germans want to storm a train station, they’ll buy another platform ticket!" Olaf Scholz is known to be a particularly right-wing Social Democrat who has so little to do with revolutionary machinations that he did not even anticipate them when he invited the world to the G20 summit in the autonomist stronghold of Hamburg.

Now his Senate is defending the platform ticket as if it were a matter of keeping "Teddy" Thalmann from the Hamburg uprising. The platforms "do not provide a staging area for people who have no business being there. In this way, we also ensure security and order," announced the spokeswoman for the SPD-led economic authority.

In practice, the platform ticket is aimed less at revolutionaries than at homeless people and beggars. The ticket costs 30 cents and is valid for one hour. Anyone who doesn’t have it is in for transportation fraud. Deutsche Bahn abolished the platform ticket a long time ago. According to CDU research, only Munich, which is also governed by the SPD, has such a ticket among the major cities.

"Law and order is a Labour issue" – this Tony Blair quote may not apply in rotten Berlin, but it does in Scholz-ruled Hamburg. The mayor, who was senator of the interior at the time, still has the lost election campaign in 2001 against the right-wing populist Ronald Schill in his bones. At the time, the judge promised a big clean-up in the Hanseatic city, including the drug scene at the main train station.

That’s why the CDU can mock the platform ticket as a "relic from the early days of the railroad age" as long as it wants – as long as the "Scholzomat" rules, it’s likely to stay. Because Scholz’s image as a hardliner has already suffered from the July riot in the Schanze, he will remain tough on drug addicts and the homeless.

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