Clear result of Forsa survey Most Bonn residents against Venusberg cable car
Bonn · Younger respondents in particular think the transport project is unnecessary. In Beuel, support is greater than in the other city districts. For a Stuttgart transport expert, the rather negative attitude comes as no surprise.
The majority of Bonn residents think that a cable car to the Venusberg is unnecessary. In a survey conducted by the polling institute Forsa on behalf of the General-Anzeiger and Radio/Bonn-Rhein-Sieg (see "The survey"), 54 percent of those interviewed answered "no" to the question of whether Bonn needs the planned infrastructure project. In contrast, 44 percent consider it necessary. The remaining two percent answered, "don't know".
Questions included place of residence, age and political party preferences. Among the respondents in Beuel, there is a narrow approval for the cable car, in Bonn (Bonn and Hardtberg districts covered by Forsa together) and the Bad Godesberg district, however, opposition is clearer than the overall result reflects. The attitude of those living on the right bank of the Rhine can possibly be explained by the fact that the planned route runs mainly through the city area on the left bank of the Rhine. The cable car is to end near the Telekom on Schießbergweg in Ramersdorf. In addition, the residents of Beuel, who work on the left bank of the Rhine, are familiar with the problems of slow-moving traffic on the three bridges in Bonn.
Opposition is very clear among the younger survey participants aged between 16 and 29, 60 percent of whom reject the cable car with "only" every third person having a positive attitude towards the project. Acceptance is more pronounced among older people, but in every age group the votes against the project predominate.
Among the supporters of the Greens, slightly more than half of the respondents consider the project worthy of support, but here, too, 45 percent think we don’t need the route. The pendulum in favour of the east-west link between Venusberg, Rheinaue and Schießbergweg is very close among FDP supporters. Among supporters of the CDU, SPD and Left Party, the majority is more or less strongly opposed. The parliamentary groups of the above-mentioned parties in the city council support the plans, the Left Party not unconditionally.
Transport experts not surprised by results
The overall result is not surprising for Christian Wieder, project engineer at the Stuttgart Transport Science Institute (VWI). The planning and consulting office cooperates with the University of Stuttgart and is currently developing a guideline for the Federal Ministry of Transport on how best to deal with cableway projects. To this end, it has conducted workshops with citizens and administrative experts. Wieder said, "We’re seeing that there is a great deal of scepticism in the public for practically all large infrastructure projects." As examples, he cited the rejection by the people of Wiesbaden of a city railway, which was turned down by 60 per cent in a referendum last year, and the plans for a cable car in Wuppertal. Here, 62 percent of the citizens rejected the project in a non-binding survey. Politicians then buried the plans.
For municipalities, the communication of costly infrastructure projects is a "balancing act". On the one hand, citizens want to be informed at an early stage. On the other hand, city planners face the problem that at the beginning of an idea like the cable car in Bonn, they cannot yet answer all questions to the full satisfaction of the public, says Wieder. As an example, he mentions the exact route, the exact positions of the supports or the definite effects on the natural environment. "At an early stage of planning, such details are usually not yet certain."
Head of Planning: Cable car to be integrated into public transport system
Bonn's head of planning, Helmut Wiesner, said of the survey result: "My assessment is nuanced. The question of whether someone is in favour of or against a cable car to the Venusberg will mainly be answered by those who suffer from the current traffic situation on the Venusberg. But the cable car is not only intended to solve the traffic problem on Venusberg. It is much more." It would be integrated into the local transport network, i.e. VRS tariffs would apply, and it would be "an elementary component of the traffic turnaround in Bonn". It would offer a congestion-free east-west connection with further stations at the UN campus and in the Rheinaue across the Rhine up to the Venusberg to the university clinics there (UKB) with currently 8,500 employees.
A broad majority of the city council had actually wanted to hold a referendum on the cable car. But the Cologne district government had informed the city, at the request of the mayor, that it did not consider such a vote legally permissible because of the complex planning procedure.
In response to a question on the planning status, the administration stated that initial talks had been held, for example with Deutsche Bahn on details of crossing and linking the cableway with railway lines. The previous cableway planning would be revised, and to this end discussions had taken place with the UKB about concrete locations for the supports on the site. This was also the basis for the subsoil expertise and noise protection studies, which are still missing. According to Wiesner, the specialist offices assume that tenders for further planning and the start of the planning approval procedure could take place in 2024. The cable car could go into operation in 2028.
Opinions are divided on the project, which is estimated to cost around 86 million euros (construction costs, not operating costs). On the one hand, twelve environmental and transport associations such as ADFC, VDC and BUND are in favour ("Cable car for Bonn: Yes!"). The University Hospital and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce also support the route. On the other hand, the citizens' initiative "Bonn bleibt seilbahnfrei" ("Bonn remains cableway-free") has been formed, which rejects the construction.