Before the council referendum NRW ministry pushes ahead with Bonn cable car project

The planned route from Beuel up to the University Hospital is to be included in the state's public transport requirements plan. Mayor Dörner informs stakeholders about the planning status - in camera.

 A simulation shows how gondolas could float past the Post Tower in the future.

A simulation shows how gondolas could float past the Post Tower in the future.

Foto: Richard Bongartz

The Bonn cable car project takes the next formal hurdle: The NRW Ministry of Transport wants the state parliament's transport committee to include it in its medium-term public transport requirements plan, according to a submission dated March 4. It is very likely that the committee will approve the project at its meeting next Wednesday.

This would clear the way for subsidies. The federal and state governments have agreed to cover 95 percent of the investment costs, which the city of Bonn estimates at 60 to 70 million euros (see also "Preferred option"). First, however, the people of Bonn will vote on the plans in a referendum. Broad support for the cable car is emerging in the city council itself, with the opposition factions CDU and FDP also in favour.

On Thursday last week, Mayor Katja Dörner (Greens) had already told some 50 people from "different segments of society" about the current status of the cable car plans in a video conference.  This was communicated subsequently in a press release. In addition to employers, "associations, institutions from education, science, business, research and culture as well as the Alliance Pro Cableway and the Initiative "Bonn bleibt seilbahnfrei" (Bonn remains cable car-free" had participated. The media were not invited.

Two participants reported that after briefly greeting the participants, Dörner pointed out that the city administration has assigned communication agency ifok, (from Bensheim, South Hessen) with informing the city’s citizens about the plans in the run-up to the referendum, which will take place along with the state parliament election on 15 May.

An information event is planned for the weekend before Easter on Münsterplatz, and there will be local follow-up meetings. The city council had approved 100,000 euros for this in December. Even if the administration supports the infrastructure project, it’s necessary that neutral information is provided.

Gundolf Reichert of the citizens' initiative "Bonn bleibt seilbahnfrei" doubts that the presentation of the project can be objective. "Thursday's meeting was a celebration event for the cable car," he told the GA. For instance, he described how the former mayor of the city of Koblenz, Joachim Hofmann-Göttig, had described in the most dazzling colours how the scepticism of Koblenz residents had given way to enthusiasm for the tourist cable car to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. In view of the "advertising budget" of 100,000 euros, Reichert said this was "an unfair procedure" in which critics such as cable car opponents were treated as "troublemakers". He said that a citizens' initiative would have its own stand at the planned information events.

Karl-Heinz Rochlitz from the local transport club (VCD), one of a total of eleven environmental and transport associations supporting the cable car project, "Seilbahn für Bonn: Ja! " (Cable car for Bonn: Yes!), also found the meeting to be a "pro-cable car event". In view of the administration's positioning to date and the economic benefits demonstrated in a feasibility study and a cost-benefit analysis, he believes this is basically correct. "It was conspicuous that there no representatives from political parties. I am surprised that the support from this side is so restrained, because the council referendum is something that most groups want," said Rochlitz. His wish is that there will be more and wider-reaching discussions about the project in the remaining two months, including with those opposed to the project.

The initiative "Seilbahn für Bonn: Ja!" had begun to distribute information hoping to convince citizens that the project is worthwhile. Asked why no media were invited to the video conference as independent observers, city spokesperson Barbara Löcherbach explained over the weekend: "In this larger round, we presented the state of the art of the plans for the cable car, which we had previously presented to the Council, or the relevant committee, and to the media in a video press conference on 8 November."

Original article: Philipp Königs and Andreas Baumann

Translation: Jean Lennox

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