Germany is struggling with the mobility transition. It could be so simple: Leave the car and walk or use the bike, bus and train. But how do you get Germans to give up their cars and use local public transport? The federal government and five German “model cities” want to present appropriate measures on Tuesday (August 14) in Berlin. Some cities abroad are already further along.
Estonia: local transport for free
Estonia’s capital Tallinn is considered a European pioneer in terms of free local transport. In the fight against daily traffic jams and car emissions, the city administration introduced a free tariff throughout the city in 2013. Since then, around 450,000 registered residents of the city on the Baltic Sea have been able to use the buses and trains for free. To do this, they need a chip card with which they have to identify themselves at the reader after boarding.
According to Tallinn’s Mayor Taavi Aas, the number of passengers on inner-city train connections has multiplied, while buses and trams carried around 10 percent more passengers. Financially, the whole thing is viable for the city. The loss of income from ticket sales was compensated for by the additional tax income from citizens who registered in Tallinn because of the zero tariff.
After the successful pilot test in the capital, the free local transport has also been rolled out to the rest of the country. Bus travel has been free in 11 out of 15 regions since July 1st. The free trips are intended to protect the environment, increase the mobility of the poorer parts of the population and stop the rural exodus.
Lithuania: One app for all modes of transport
In the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, a start-up wants to improve urban mobility with an app. Via the application of the same name from the provider Trafi, you can call up information on all means of transport available in the city in real time, book them via the app and pay automatically. The app also provides data that the city administration can use as a basis for their traffic planning.
Trafi bundles the various modes of transport in one app. If the user types in their destination address, the smartphone shows several suggestions for different modes of transport. A city map also shows the positions of the buses including waiting times. The current locations of the available city bikes and car sharing cars can also be seen on the display. Select, tap, pay – done.
“In principle, it is like a search engine for the mobility options I currently have available,” says Martynas Gudonavicius, co-founder and head of Trafi. Real-time data on traffic jams, construction sites or the weather are also included in the search. According to Gudonavicius, more than 100,000 of the 540,000 residents of Vilnius are already using the app.
Austria: Alternative offers to the car
In Vienna, driving a car is becoming increasingly unattractive due to the many one-way streets and few free parking spaces. At the same time, the metropolis ruled by a red-green coalition subsidizes the use of buses and trains with around 500 million euros per year – that is 40 percent of the costs. The result: 760,000 people now have an annual pass for 365 euros, which is cheap compared to other European countries. This means that there are more annual passes than registered cars. Most journeys are made by public transport – no wonder given that the subways run every three to five minutes during the day.
Great Britain: Funding programs for more green modes of transport
The UK government is promoting the purchase of electric and hybrid buses by public transport companies with multi-million dollar subsidy programs. As a result, a total of 1,600 vehicles with environmentally friendly drives have already been put on the roads since 2009. There are similar programs in Scotland and Northern Ireland.