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Cost-benefit analysis still missing: Cable car opponents from Bonn call in law firm

Cost-benefit analysis still missing : Cable car opponents from Bonn call in law firm

The cable car project in Bonn is stalling: Two years after the announcement, there is still no cost-benefit analysis. Cable car opponents have now turned to a law firm.

While Beuel's local politics and city administration fought in public last year over whether a possible cable car would be better off stopping at the Schießbergweg or at the Ramersdorf subway station, the question remains: Where is the long-awaited in-depth cost-benefit analysis based on a feasibility study that has been available for a long time? Without proof of economic benefit, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia would not finance 90 percent of the infrastructure project, which has a construction cost of 42 million euros and could connect Venusberg and the UN campus, and possibly also Rheinaue and Beuel in the extension. This could mean the end of Bonn's cable car dreams.

The citizen's initiative "Bonn remains cableway-free", whose attitude is unambiguous from the name, confirmed on Tuesday on inquiry that it had turned in the meantime to a lawyer's office. Several letters have been written by the lawyers already in the past year, among other things to the city administration, in addition, to the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Transport. They are available to the GA. The law firm once again summarizes on several pages the doubts that the cable car opponents had already made public about the feasibility study. Gundolf Reichert of the initiative said about the motives: "With the politicians we have fallen on deaf ears. We now hope that we will be heard in this way."

In essence, the law firm is explaining on behalf of its client why, from their point of view, the analysis on the basic feasibility of such a cable car is based on false assumptions. The expert's traffic forecast, for example, is based on the assumption that traffic on the road feeder roads to the university hospital on Venusberg will increase much more than the population growth figures would suggest. "According to this, the population of the Venusberg would grow 26 times more than predicted on average by all relevant institutions for the city of Bonn," the letter to NRW Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst reads.

City confirms receipt of letter

Another topical point in the letters refers to the pandemic, during which working conditions would have changed. The narrow cabins of a cable car were "unsuitable during the pandemic". A 20-page letter was sent to Mayor Katja Dörner. This also states that the feasibility study is based on incorrect data. Among other things it is to be criticised that days of closure to be expected for the cableway due to strong winds did not flow into the computations of the expert to affect possible operating cost and incomes.

Deputy city spokesman Marc Hoffmann confirmed receipt of the lawyer's letters: "The points of criticism formulated in them are not new and in many cases have already been the subject of public discussions." On the question of when the results of the more in-depth cost-benefit analysis, originally announced for early 2019, would be available, Hoffmann said, "The city administration is still in the formal process of the so-called standardized evaluation for the cable car project." In this process, in which an expert office, the federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are involved, among other things the planning bases of the city and the engineering firms commissioned are also being examined, so ultimately probably also the indications of the cable car opponents. This process is dragging on because urban cableways that are to be connected to the public transport network do not yet exist in this form in Germany. From Wüst's ministerial office, a spokeswoman was tight-lipped: "Whichever evaluation the Ministry of Transport comes to, whether the measure can be promoted or not, will only be decided after completion of the standardised evaluation."

Some Bonn associations support the project

Bonn's Lord Mayor Katja Dörner had already spoken out in favor of the Venusberg cable car before her election. As a member of the Bundestag, she campaigned for appropriate federal funding to co-finance urban cableway projects. At the beginning of this year, the Federal Ministry of Transport announced that it had commissioned the planning company Drees & Sommer (known in Bonn as the project manager for the Beethoven Hall redevelopment) and the Verkehrswissenschaftliches Institut Stuttgart GmbH with a study on the integration of urban cableway projects in terms of urban and traffic planning.

Over the next two years, both are to develop a guideline for the realization of cableways as part of local transport. According to the press release of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Sebastian Beck of Drees & Sommer was quoted as saying: "Cableways as a supplement to existing local public transport will be an option that cannot be ignored in the future, especially as transport in cities and conurbations is increasingly reaching its limits".

In Bonn, there are nine clubs and associations that support the construction of a cable car. The initiative, which includes the bicycle club ADFC, the transport club VCD and the environmental associations BUND, Nabu and Lebenswerte Region Bonn/Siebengebirge, sees it as an environmentally friendly alternative to car traffic: "We are an independent initiative and are working for a traffic turnaround in Bonn, for which the cable car should be only one, albeit an important pillar," it says on the website.

(Original text: Philipp Königs, Translation: Mareike Graepel)