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Local public transport in Bonn: Coalition supports water buses on Rhine

Local public transport in Bonn : Coalition supports water buses on Rhine

The coalition is in favour of water taxis on the river Rhine. Bonn city authorities are to be involved in a feasibility study carried out by the neighbouring municipalities.

Passengers in New York, London, Istanbul, Dublin or Rotterdam have long since switched from taking a bus or train to travelling by boat. In Bonn, too, we could soon be saying “Rhine free”. In a joint feasibility study, the neighbouring municipalities of Cologne, Wesseling and Leverkusen are currently investigating whether a water bus system would be a sensible addition to their public transport services. A first interim report is now available. In it, the investigators assess the water bus as a sensible addition to the existing local public transport services if there is a connection to existing transfer points as well as the cycle path network.

And Bonn is now to be brought on board. The majority coalition wants the city authorities to contact the three neighbours so that Bonn will also be included in the ongoing investigations, according to transport policy spokespersons Rolf Beu (Greens), Gabi Mayer (SPD), Patrick Tollasz (Left Party) and Dominik Maxein (Volt).

“This way, Bonn could benefit comparatively inexpensively from the findings so far, and at the same time take a decisive step forward in the debate on water bus connections across the Rhine, which was initiated years ago,” Beu argues. He is certain that “a water bus would be another attractive public transport service, especially for Bonn and its great location on the Rhine”. Moreover, the water would connect the two riverbanks more quickly than the bridges.

“For changing the transport policy, it is important to examine creative mobility solutions too. The time is right to examine the use of water buses in Bonn as well,” says Gabi Mayer referring to the coalition’s joint motion for the council’s mobility committee.

“Without a doubt, connections between the two banks of the Rhine by water bus would be very attractive. However, in addition to sufficient speed and climate-friendly propulsion, the connection with the public transport system plays a major role, she says. And the study should show how this can be sensibly achieved on the banks of the Rhine,” adds Patrick Tollasz from the Left Party.

For Dominik Maxein (Volt), time is pressing. “Now is the time to hurry so that we can still join the ongoing study. Alternatively, the city authorities should carry out their own study as a further development of the current investigations. The council’s mobility committee would then have to make decisions on this again with regard to costs and priorities.

In the CDU’s opinion, the positive findings of the current investigation on the use of water buses in Cologne justify a re-evaluation of the topic, which has already been discussed several times in the past. The framework conditions in Bonn and Cologne are similar, which means that a new conclusion could now be reached, the CDU believes.

“The use of water buses could also relieve road traffic on the bridges after the pandemic and could represent an attractive additional public transport offering,” says Jürgen Wehlus, transport expert in the CDU parliamentary group.

For Tim Achtermeyer of the Green Party, “water buses are a great thing. But we need a coherent overall concept to really make the water bus service a success story. This includes integrating the tariffs into the VRS tariff structure, coordinating with the arrival and departure times of the land-based public transport services, a fast passenger exchange at the stops and accessibility for all,” he explains.

Discussions over MS Poseidon ban

At the request of the CDU, the mobility committee will discuss the ban of the MS Poseidon on 11 March. According to the CDU, regular service of the Rhine steamer could help relieve the public transport system during the pandemic. The prerequisite, however, is that it is not an offering for tourists. “An appropriate hygiene concept and compatibility with the Corona Protection Ordinance are the prerequisites here,” the CDU’s urgent motion states. Faction leader Guido Déus explains: “Under the current corona conditions, I see a possible regular service primarily as an offering to further equalise traffic flows and meet the need for alternative means of transport - also in combination with the promotion of cycling.”

In this context, the ban on the MS Poseidon - which is currently not allowed to run shuttle services between Bonn and Königswinter - is causing debate. Gabi Mayer is calling for a clear separation between regular and excursion services. “A regular scheduled service between Bonn and Königswinter would certainly relieve the pressure on the number 66 tram line and give the ship’s crews at least some perspective in the corona crisis,” says Mayer.

“We regret that the MS Poseidon is now not allowed to shuttle between Bonn and Königswinter,” states Rolf Beu from the Green Party. “It would have been a good start. But the operators should have made it clearer that they wanted to offer a public transport service and not a tourist service. We hope that this can still be made up for.”

(Original text: Gabriele Immenkeppel, Translation: Caroline Kusch)