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A turnaround in fare systems does not mean a turnaround in transport – Interview with Friedemann Brockmeyer

In this interview, Friedemann Brockmeyer, Senior Project Manager at civity, explains the background behind matters no. 2. In addition to information on the analysis and the aim of the study, he explains the important findings of the study and possible measures for German cities.

  • How did civity come up with the idea of investigating the “Viennese approach” in more detail?

We were involved in the process right from the start and had already emphasised at the time that Vienna had an excellent public transport service that was unrivalled in Europe in terms of density and scope. But we were also sure that the then €449 price tag for the annual ticket was not the decisive factor.

  • What was the aim of the current matters study?

Our goal was and is to present the “Viennese approach” in its entirety and thus to work against the incorrect reduction of the annual pass to €365 that is so often quoted in public in Germany. Vienna stands for an outstanding service and is also a leader when it comes to integrating mobility for public use, e.g. with the Wien Mobil app. However, Vienna is also proof that a turnaround in fare systems does not necessarily mean a turnaround in transport.

  • How did you proceed with the analysis?

In a pretty traditional way, as we always do in our analyses. We looked at the three layers of the urban mobility ecosystem: urban structure, transport infrastructure and transport policy, which together ultimately determine the mobility behaviour of the Viennese. All levels are mutually dependent and they all have an extraordinary affinity for public transport in Vienna!

  • What were the most important findings?

The most important thing is the fact that for several decades public transport in Vienna has been an absolute priority for the people of Vienna, for politicians and thus also in the public budget. The triumph of Viennese public transport began about a decade before the introduction of the €365 annual pass. Since this introduction, however, Viennese public transport has in fact only maintained its market share.

  • Which measures could serve as a role model in transport policy for German cities?

German cities can learn three things from Vienna.

  • Firstly, that a high population density promotes the use of public transport.
  • Secondly, that continuous investment in an outstanding range of services pays off.
  • Thirdly, that a sustainable turnaround in transport requires systematic regulation of private inner-city car use.

German cities (especially those with high population growth) should focus on increasing urban density and on continuously expanding public transport services in areas that are already dense and in areas where density has yet to be increased. This means making public transport a clear priority, especially in the event of any space conflicts between public transport and motorised individual transport. “Half-hearted bus lanes”, i.e. which are only there because there is enough space anyway or which are also used as a spare cycle path, are not the way forward.

Cities in Germany need to clearly prioritise public transport in the streets and private car use needs to be regulated more urgently than any electric bus experiments with auxiliary diesel engines for air conditioning or similar symbolic acts of transport policy.

  • Are there any measures that may still be missing in Vienna?

Vienna will have to invest heavily if it is to achieve any further gains in the market share for public transport. This is the case with the new U2xU5 intersection which will boost connectivity with the suburban railway line and thus with the greater Vienna area. This is precisely where the greatest challenges currently lie in Vienna. The city now needs to focus on maintaining what it has already achieved in order to be able to preserve the existing high market share of public transport in the long term. In the field of urban mobility, it is now the turn of the other modes of transport in the environmental network. Bicycles have tended to suffer under the €365 annual pass.

  • Now that the study has been completed, what makes the mobility of a city particularly attractive?

A high spatial development of the urban area by rail-bound public transport with high interval density. Long-term, continuous investments in the public transport infrastructure are also needed that go beyond Germany’s short-sighted transport policy with its Green City plans and often questionable experiments with fares, which are justified by impending diesel bans.