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When buses or trains are late: Mobility guarantee in Bonn is being expanded

When buses or trains are late : Mobility guarantee in Bonn is being expanded

A mobility guarantee now offers bus and train customers in Bonn more possibilities to reach their destination in case of delays or cancellations. But a reimbursement is subject to certain conditions.

A decade after the introduction of the mobility guarantee for local transport in NRW, the range of services for customers is being expanded. Since July, more generous conditions have been in place and customers have more choice when it comes to alternative means of transport. "The new features sensibly extend the mobility guarantee in a dynamically growing transport market and integrate new means of transport," says Anja Wenmakers, Managing Director of SWB Bus and Rail.

As a general rule, if a bus or train is more than 20 minutes late or even cancelled, guests with a valid ticket, a pass, or severely impaired persons with a token may take a long-distance train or a taxi. Recently, the options of a rental bicycle or scooter were also added. Car sharing offers may also be used.

The customer must pay the costs up front and can later apply for reimbursement from the public transport company. The maximum limits for this have been raised. For a taxi ride or car-sharing, a maximum of 30 euros instead of 25 euros is now reimbursed for trips during the day between 5 am and 8 pm, and up to 60 euros instead of 50 euros during the night. In surveys conducted in autumn of 2019, several GA readers complained that the reimbursement amounts were insufficient.

Some conditions apply

Although it sounds like a comprehensive approach, the mobility guarantee is subject to a number of conditions. For example, one should not wait too long for a delayed bus or train. The guarantee is only valid if the alternative trip begins at the latest one hour after the delay has been noted. In the rural Rhein-Sieg district, this means it could be difficult to find a taxi, especially at night.

Beyond that, the guarantee does not apply in the event of strikes, storms, forces of nature, bomb threats or delays occurring during the journey. Most recently, bomb deactivations are also excluded. At a bus stop or small train station, however, passengers will often not know if one of those occurrences is the reason for the delay. Because of that, people relying on the mobility guarantee might be left covering the costs themselves.

Many delays on line 66

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why fewer than 20,000 customers nationwide submitted refund applications last year. Around 460,000 euros were paid out for taxi and long-distance transport costs. Stadtwerke Bonn made relatively frequent use of the mobility guarantee. According to company spokeswoman Veronika John, 1,201 compensation applications were received by October 15 of 2019. Only five were rejected. The city public transport company had to pay 19,000 euros to fulfill the mobility guarantee. This year, only 190 applications were received due to the significantly reduced passenger volume. 132 were accepted, 16 further claims were settled as a gesture of goodwill.

Passengers were particularly affected by delays in the past two years on tram line 66 between Siegburg and Bad Honnef and on bus line 603 between Röttgen, the main station and Pützchen as well as on the line from Gronau via Venusberg and Duisdorf to Tannenbusch.

SWB losses due to Corona

Responding to an inquiry, the city and local public transportation authorities said that during the corona pandemic, Stadtwerke Bus and Rail, and Bonn City Parking incurred unforeseen monthly costs of around 2.5 million euros. In local transport, SWB operated at 85 percent of the regular timetable in the period from March 18 to April 22. Savings were achieved in fuel consumption for the buses and in electricity consumption for the trains. In terms of personnel, staff were reduced to short-time working hours, and the number of remaining vacation days and overtime was reduced.

SWB has not yet calculated how large the losses from the pandemic period will be: "First of all, it remains to be seen how much from the federal government's "public transport rescue package" will actually reach Bonn. The federal government has earmarked a total of 2.5 billion euros for this. The SWB Group is expecting a deficit of ten to 15 million euros in 2020 "according to initial rough estimates" due to corona-related burdens.

(Orig. text: Martin Wein / Translation: ck)