This traffic app saves me money and protects the environment

Egon saved me a lot of money and nerves.  (Source: VGN)

Egon saved me a lot of money and nerves. (Source: VGN)

Public transport, my goodness! I can feel your eye roll. In fact, I’ll take the wind out of your sails (or the rails under your wheels): this isn’t going to be a rant, for once I’d like to give a compliment. For public transport. For an app. In Germany. Unbelievable.

Egon, the VGN (Verkehrsverbund Greater Nuremberg) app, makes my life a lot easier because I no longer need a ticket.

Max Schwind

Maxe lives in Nuremberg and has been working full-time from home since February. A lot has changed as a result, including driving on public transport. For years he was the owner of an annual ticket for the greater Nuremberg transport association, simply boarding the bus and train was completely normal. He has a driver’s license, but not a car, because those who live in the city get along wonderfully with public transport.

This is how Egon works

The app tracks my location and registers the stop I’m standing at – regardless of whether it’s a bus, subway or tram. When I get in, I slide the controller to the right. Now I have confirmed that I will use public transport.

I don’t have to think about checking out, the app does it automatically – and that’s damn convenient. Transfers are also recognized automatically. So you are literally on your way with just one click.

First things first, I need to create an account, allow location access on my phone (which makes sense here), and link my Paypal account or credit card. The rest is easy as pie: don’t forget to turn on the app.

Egon saves me money

Yes, okay, looking at the calculations can make you dizzy.

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If you use Egon a lot, you even get a discount.  (Source: VGN)

If you use Egon a lot, you even get a discount. (Source: VGN)

However, this also keeps billing transparent.

A basic daily price is calculated on the basis of two zones (1 euro or 2 euros), plus a distance price (the linear distance is calculated here, so it doesn’t matter how often the bus zigzags) which together result in the final price.

A small calculation example: I have to go to the doctor every three weeks for a check-up, the clinic is four kilometers away. I get on and off at the bus stop closest to me. The basic daily price of 2 euros and the route price of 53 cents are debited.

You can view all trips in the app.

You can view all trips in the app.

The return trip costs me only 53 cents because I have already paid the basic daily rate. All in all, that’s 3.06 euros for two bus rides.

For comparison: If I use single tickets from the machine, I pay 3.05 euros – per route. So I save myself a whole trip with Egon.

Egon relieves the environment (and my nerves)

What annoyed me the most after having used an annual ticket for 15 years: Stand at the machine and take a ticket. Sure, I could have done it online, but I was old-fashioned. I liked having something in my hand when the conductor asked me for my ticket, and I wasn’t (and am) alone with that.

Depending on where I am, I had to wait at the ticket machine, then the procedure was always the same: select the travel area, tap the 4-ride ticket, pay, wait for it to be printed. And, oh yes, would it have been worth a day ticket today? Damn, now I already have the ticket in my hand.

Now I no longer need paper flying around in my pocket or backpack. I don’t have to queue anymore. Like before, I just get in.

All that glitters is not Egon

The app isn’t perfect, of course, and it doesn’t replace the fact that I still have to think about checking in. I admit: after 15 years of a permanent ticket, it happened to me that I did a fare evasion without a paper ticket, simply because getting on and sitting down has become second nature to me. I can check in later with Egon, I’ve got my cell phone in my hand anyway.

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A push message would be nice, however, asking whether you are currently taking the subway, tram or bus. If the app recognizes whether I’m getting out based on my location, it might also work the other way around (but would probably be quite annoying when driving).

In monetary terms, the app is particularly worthwhile for frequent drivers. So if I drive from the west of Nuremberg to the city center, get on the subway here and there and come back in the evening, I only pay a trifle – so I’m actively saving money.

Someone who travels to Nuremberg Airport from outside Germany to fly on holiday pays more because the basic daily rate plus route rate may be higher than a single trip. Then the calculation doesn’t stop there.

Still, I don’t see why the model shouldn’t make a difference. Some samples from transport companies in other major cities have shown me that you can only buy digital tickets via their app.

So why not Egon? Saves money, saves paper, is damn convenient and for uncharted territory Germany almost revolutionary.

I can’t say that often, but: Nuremberg is finally a bit ahead of the other cities in Germany – and that too in terms of local public transport. That’s why I say it in Franconian language: Cologne, Berlin, Munich – hob ‘etz!

A public transport app has relieved my wallet and the environment, even though I’m a notorious hoarder of paper tickets. Do you think that a system like Egon could catch on in other cities? Is there perhaps one or the other app that completely convinced you? Write it in the comments.

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