Bonn · In a project designed to encourage people to use public transportation, an annual pass will be available for Bonn commuters for 365 euros starting in 2019. But passenger association Pro Bahn criticizes the project “Lead City”.
It seems almost as if traffic planners in Bonn were looking at Vienna with envy. In the city on the Danube, the 365-euro “climate ticket” has been around for some time already, as well as attractive rates for employees who use public transportation. One can see just how popular public transport is in Vienna by looking at the breakdown of the percentage of journeys taken using various means of transportation. In Vienna, 38 percent of the commutes are on bus and tram, while in Bonn this figure is currently 17 percent. A new project in Bonn called “Lead City” is intended to grow this figure to 20 percent. The project will include a special annual fare, as well as cheaper group tickets, available as of January 1, 2019.
“Our target group is people who are getting around in Bonn but not yet regularly using public transport,” said Veronika John, spokeswoman for Bonn municipal works (SWB). With this 12-month limited offer, we hope that they will continue to use public transportation after the end of the project. Even if the costs then will be three times as high: A regular annual pass at price level 1b (which is the equivalent of the climate ticket), costs just under 990 euros. The “climate ticket” is only good within Bonn city limits, it does not work for areas in Rhein-Sieg using the VRS transportation system.
Offer available only for new customers
Those who already have an annual pass, are not allowed to participate in the new offer. Anyone who thinks they can cancel their current annual ticket and re-register as a new customer, will be disappointed. “We match each application with our master data,” explains John. They have a contingency of 17,000 of the special tickets for two years. The city is assuming that there will be a good-sized demand from new customers, and the offer is good as long as the supply lasts. There are also a limited number of tickets where five people travel for the price of one.
Bonn wants to echo the Viennese transport system, where everyone reaches a stop within a few steps, public transport running around the clock. The plan of the SWB is to extend the ten to 20-minute pick-up cycle from Monday through Friday by one hour until 8:30 pm. And in the future, Saturday buses and trams should run from 9:30am to 8:30pm, every ten to 20 minutes. For some lines, the larger articulated buses are planned as well as more frequent pick-up intervals. New connections from Bornheim through Roisdorf to Tannenbusch are planned, and also from Venusberg to Poppelsdorf, Endenich and the north part of the city to Beuel.
The VRS public transport system used in Rhein-Sieg, is viewed as an important partner for getting people to their place of employment and new offers should be developed for those commuters in that system. This could be carpooling or flexible working hours to avoid peak traffic times. City spokeswoman Monika Hörig said there would be around 2 million euros for a special team to take on this project at the beginning of 2019.
Hans-Werner Ignatowitz of passenger association Pro Bahn Rhineland, criticizes the plan, saying that “what Bonn wants to implement is a drop in the bucket.” He said, “We have a large proportion of people who commute to the city, and they won’t be able to use the climate ticket.” He said the more frequent stops and additional lines were “half-hearted” because they would only affect weekends and evenings, when usage was not as high. He felt the millions being invested by the federal government would be better invested in the long term.
After 2020, it is unclear how the project would continue. Hörig said that when the funding ran out, they would have to make their decision based on evaluations. Part of the puzzle would also be who would fund such offers in the future and what role would be played by Rhine-Sieg County.
(Orig. text: Nicolas Ottersbach / Translation: ck)