Foreword: A policy to promote local and regional public transport in Germany

Posted: 12 March 2015 | Alexander Dobrindt, German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure

Local public transport is the mainstay of sustainable urban and regional transport in Germany. The record figure of almost 11 billion journeys in 2013 is impressive proof that demand for public transport is higher than ever. It enables people to enjoy a high degree of mobility, reduces the level of private traffic and makes a significant contribution towards protecting the environment and tackling climate change. As German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Alexander Dobrindt explains, all these elements are good reasons for further strengthening the overall system – comprising regular scheduled buses, trams, underground railways and rapid transit systems – and, above all, further improving its connectivity with other types of transport…

Alexander Dobrindt, German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital InfrastructureInvestment drive for high-capacity transport infrastructure

Traffic growth, demographic change, ensuring affordable mobility and increasingly stringent requirements regarding energy efficiency and CO2 reduction – these are the major challenges confronting the transport sector today. In addition, there is a trend in Germany towards urbanisation which places an additional burden on the flow of traffic in towns and cities. Here, local public transport plays a pivotal role. The quality of life in and the economic performance of our towns, cities and regions is directly linked to the quality of their public transport systems. If local public transport wants to continue deploying its inherent strengths, the overall system requires, more than anything else, high-capacity infrastructure. Therefore we have launched an investment drive to modernise our transport infrastructure. By 2017, we will invest an additional €5 billion of public funding in our transport network; the amount of money invested annually in Federal Government transport projects will rise from around €10 billion in 2013 to a record high of €12 billion.

A federal structure of responsibilities and competitive organisation

No-one is more familiar with mobility requirements than local policymakers. In Germany, with its federal structure of government, it is only logical that the organisation of urban and regional transport is the responsibility of the federal states and local authorities. The Federal Government provides them with a substantial amount of funding for this purpose – around €8 billion a year. This money is used for the continuous modernisation of passenger transport services and for the further upgrading of our dense and attractive transport network. One of the priorities is the provision of improved airport links. When it comes to organising transport services, we are committed to the principles of free enterprise and competition. The transport services we desire are delivered predominantly through competitive tendering and the placing of orders with urban public transport operators and railway undertakings.

Strengthening collaboration

It is encouraging to see the continuing trend towards regional integrated transport authorities. Collaboration between different transport operators from neighbouring municipalities and the interlinking of their services across regional boundaries are making public transport more attractive. Uniform fares, ticket ranges, timetables and timetable information throughout the authority make public transport easier and more convenient for people to use. Also, park and ride schemes, parking management, traffic management and mobility management in Germany help to channel people towards public transport and ensure that transport is as compatible as possible with the objectives of urban development.

Transport connectivity – a key project

The crucial key project of a modern mobility policy is the comprehensive connectivity of all transport services. We are working on creating seamless mobility chains within the public transport system and on further improving its interfaces with private transport. Our objective is comprehensive multi-modality. One of the crucial driving forces behind this development is the ongoing digitalisation of mobility. Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) are advancing fast, smartphone apps and electronic ticketing are widespread, and car and bike sharing schemes have been around for quite some time. But now, digital connectivity is enhancing their flexibility and ensuring that they can be interlinked. The Federal Government is vigorously promoting the trend towards smart mobility and mobility 4.0. The connectivity of all transport services, driven by digital innovations, is enhancing the efficiency of mobility and making a major contribution towards optimising the interfaces between the individual modes of transport. The public transport operators, in particular, are important catalysts when it comes to establishing everyday innovative solutions. 

Environmental and energy efficient transport solutions

Public transport also provides promising prospects for the deployment of alternative and ultra energy efficient drivetrains. This is especially true of the spread and market ramp-up of environmentally sustainable forms such as hybrid and electric mobility. The Federal Government is supporting these approaches by providing financial assistance to specific individual projects and by conducting extensive evaluation research. One example is the eight ‘Electric Mobility Pilot Regions’, in which players from academia, industry and the stakeholder municipalities are cooperating closely to push ahead with efforts to ensure that electric mobility becomes firmly established in the public realm.

Our overall strategy aims to establish a new, sustainable mobility culture and a user-friendly interconnection of the various means of transport. The better public transport services are integrated into this overall system, the better their opportunities for development will be.

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