üstra continues to provide Hanover with high quality transport
Posted: 12 March 2015 | Andre Neiß, Chairman of the Board of Directors, üstra Hannoversche Verkehrsbetriebe
With its popular bus lines and tram network, üstra Hannoversche Verkehrsbetriebe AG is one of Germany’s top passenger transport companies. Chairman of the Board of Directors, André Neiß, explains how the company provides transport operations for around 165 million passengers per year, making it the most efficient service provider for passenger transport in Lower Saxony…
With just under 38 million vehicle kilometres per annum (rail and bus) and around 2,000 employees, üstra carries the people of Hanover around its city centre during the day in 10-minute intervals. üstra is just one of the service operators within the Großraum-Verkehr Hannover area (GVH) alongside RegioBus Hannover GmbH, DB Regio AG, Metronom Eisenbahngesellschaft mbH and Erixx GmbH. GVH provides a co-ordinated transport network and uniform fare system.
üstra is a traditional company; for over 120 years it has been connected inseparably with the city of Hanover. It was established in 1892 under the name Straßenbahn Hannover AG.
The fact that the people of Hanover have trust in üstra’s services is highlighted by positive statistics; two out of three inhabitants use the green and silver üstra trams every day. üstra moves more than 435,000 people every day, 365 days a year, and ensures that all passengers reach their destination safely and on schedule. Hanover’s light-rail system is a combination of surface and underground lines; tunnels criss-cross the city centre, and in outlying areas the fast trams run wherever possible on tracks separated from the roads. Unaffected by traffic congestion, the trams thus run more punctually and efficiently.
Today’s city rail network of around 121km has been built up in sections since 1975. It comprises 200 stops, of these are 19 underground stations and 126 stops with overhead stairs, nine depots and one vehicle control centre. In 2014, 288 trams travelled more than 26 million kilometres.
Environmentally-friendly public transport
With its modern tram and bus fleet, üstra also provides environmentally-friendly mobility. Its trams CO2 emissions have been more than halved since 1990 as the energy used is partly generated by the trams themselves – from converted braking energy. Since 2014, üstra has acquired 50 new environmentally-friendly type TW 3000 trams, made possible with 50% subsidies from the State of Lower Saxony in accordance with the Unbundling Act (EntFlG).
The TW 3000 will gradually replace the green type TW 6000 series trams. The new trams offer plenty of comfort for the passengers such as a special lighting concept, they are easily accessible for people with reduced mobility, plus above-door lighting to signal when the tram doors can still be opened or whether they have already been locked.
The üstra bus fleet is also environmentally-friendly. After successful test operations of a hybrid bus in 2008, a further 10 hybrid buses have been operating on Line 121 since September 2011. With hybrid technology, üstra is specifically banking on innovation and environmentally-friendliness and thus continues its climate protection course.
In 2009 and 2010, üstra bought 37 articulated buses from the German manufacturer MAN which fulfil the highest relevant environment standard EEV.
In addition to this, Solaris will soon deliver the first three electric buses to üstra. These are to be tested in scheduled operation from the beginning of 2016. It is intended to supply the buses in a quick-charge process at the terminal at August-Holweg-Platz with power from the city railway network so that here power gained in the city railway braking can also be used. üstra has thus offered electrical mobility with its trams now for around 100 years and will, in the future also, operate buses exclusively on electric power. üstra thus makes a significant contribution to climate protection in the Hanover region.
Wider sustainability aims
However, being an environmentally-friendly transport operator is not üstra’s only aim; economic procedures and a responsible manner with its customers and staff members are also some of üstra’s basic values. The company thus works in accordance with the criteria of sustainability: economically, ecologically and socially.
Sustainability, seen as the interaction between economy, ecology and social responsibility, is one of the five strategic action spheres of üstra. All action and work of the company is planned and revised in accordance with the criteria of sustainability. Economic efficiency is ensured in an environmentally-friendly manner and at the same time responsibility assumed for its customers and staff members. By achieving these goals, üstra is making the right decisions for the future and to strengthen the public transport system, the effects of the environment in the Hanover region due to transport and to fulfil the expectations of its customers.
üstra in co-operation
In the area of the Großraum Verkehr Hannover (GVH), üstra is the biggest partner with a 75% share of transport.
Großraum Verkehr Hannover (GVH) is the second oldest transport network in Germany but still one of the most modern. For around 1.1 million inhabitants of the Hanover region and its environs, for guests and tourists, GVH offers quick connections, short ways and environmentally-friendly transport and services on more than just bus and rail lines.
Together with üstra Hannoversche Verkehrsbetriebe AG, RegioBus Hannover GmbH, DB Regio AG and Metronom Eisenbahngesellschaft mbH co-operate in the GVH. New here are Nordwestbahn (NWB) and Heidekreuzbahn.
The transport network provides the region with a well co-ordinated transport network which customers can use with a single ticket. Short ways are the basis for transport planning. Quick rail connections, combined transport possibilities, comprehensive bus lines and call taxis and buses are a part of the transport system. The region of Hanover calls up bus and rail transport services from the individual transport companies within the framework of its provision of general services.
üstra provides various ways for passengers to purchase tickets including within the Customer Centre where there is comprehensive information and competent advice in the service points of the GVH in and around Hanover. Other sales points in the remaining Hanover region do not sell the whole GVH range but passengers can obtain the most important tickets and passes. Sales points can be found (kiosk, department store etc.) where they show the flag with the GVH logo.
In addition to those areas, there are 318 automatic ticket vending machines at the 200 tram stops throughout the whole city area. A vendor offers the whole range of GVH tickets for immediate travel and GVH passes with freely selectable commencement of validity. Tickets can also be bought from the bus drivers in the vehicle; üstra drivers have all types of tickets for immediate travel but no concession tickets or passes.
üstra as an employer
Around 1,900 employees work in almost 60 different job areas designed to ensure the mobility of their passengers. The biggest group of employees is formed by the drivers of our city railcars and buses. Drivers can start their career through the ‘specialist drivers’ training programme and also through other completed vocational training programmes.
The second biggest group is formed of engineers, these include, for example, mechanics, electricians for industrial engineering, plant mechanics, car mechanics, engineers and electrical and construction engineers.
Numerous other occupations complete the occupational world of üstra such as, for example, office administrators, business persons for transport services, business administrators, system analysts and computer specialists, transport and development planners, marketing specialists and lawyers.
Üstra is a multicultural company; the staff members come from 30 different countries and symbolise diversity and tolerance at üstra.
Since February 2014, üstra has been active in social media including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. While Facebook mostly contains images of üstra services, Twitter is best served to ‘spread’ news of planned and unplanned disturbances so that the passengers can be informed and kept up-to-date at any time. On YouTube, üstra posts videos about everyday life for a passenger transport company such as news about extensions to routes and safety notices. Additionally, the üstra blog ‘Fahrtenbuch’ (logbook) went online in December 2014 which üstra uses to tell exciting stories from the world of üstra and provides a glance behind the scenes of Hanover’s transport services.
The future of üstra
üstra believes that the future image of Hanover has already been secured. The buses and trams of üstra will operate through the region of Hanover until at least 2038. In the autumn of 2014, the region of Hanover declared that it plans to request that the transport company operates for a further 22.5 years to provide trams and buses in the area of the Greater Hanover Transport (GVH). The schedule envisages that this mandate will apply from 25 September 2015, following a decision by the Regional Parliamentary Assembly.
After studying Business Administration, André Neiß became responsible for the central area of accounting and finances at the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (Berlin Public Transport Service). After that, André was active as the Managing Shareholder of a consultancy firm specialised in advising transport companies. Since 1 September 2005, André Neiß has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors of üstra Hannoversche Verkehrsbetriebe AG where he has successfully introduced the new strategic alignment of the company with the goal of maintaining üstra as a vital transport company. André has been proactive in establishing the sustainability of the internal and customer relationships of the transport company on the agenda with the goal of exhausting the potential of üstra as an innovative company, as an attractive employer, as competent management for passenger transport and a customer-orientated service provider.