Safety and investment promises for Wiener Linien

The new heads of Viennese public transport provider Wiener Linien have remained tight-lipped about a possible reform of prices.

Newspapers have been speculating for months that some tickets will become dearer in a few months’ time to allow the city government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and Greens to implement cheaper annual passes which currently cost 449 Euros. The coalition denied commenting on claims that single tickets would soon cost more than the current 1.80 Euros. Delegates said they were holding talks, adding that results would be presented in autumn.

New Wiener Linien co-chiefs Alexandra Reinagl and Eduard Winter did not reveal any information on the topic either when they were officially presented yesterday (Mon). Reinagl, who formerly headed eastern Austria’s Verkehrsverbund Ost-Region (VOR) public transport network, and Winter will take over at Wiener Linien next month. They said possible changes of ticket prices would be revealed this autumn.

The incoming Wiener Linien bosses said they wanted to focus on high safety standards for staff and the firm’s annual 838 million passengers. They also identified improving the links of the network to public transport in areas close to the city. This aspect has been in the centre of heated debate for years.

Especially representatives of the People’s Party (ÖVP) in Vienna and Lower Austria are in favour of expanding Vienna’s underground train network to towns and cities situated outside the capital. Officials of the conservative party – which is in opposition in Vienna but the strongest political force in Lower Austria – named Purkersdorf and Klosterneuburg as possible destinations. Viennese SPÖ decision-makers have disagreed with such proposals, arguing they wanted to further improve circumstances for commuters with the current means of public transport.

SPÖ Vienna Financial Affairs Councillor Renate Brauner promised yesterday the city would keep investing in Wiener Linien due to the positive effects on the environment if more people used buses, trams and U-Bahn trains instead of cars. Car sharing initiatives were identified as a key topic for the future by Brauner who has been asked to step down by the ÖVP and the Freedom Party (FPÖ) many times in recent months due to a string of controversial investments and the high debts of Vienna.

Wiener Linien officials explained yesterday Josefstädter Straße station would remain closed to the end of this year. The station – which was designed by late architect Otto Wagner – is currently undergoing extensive renovation. Three other U6 line stops – Burggasse, Thaliastraße and Alser Straße – are in full operation again since yesterday after having been closed for renovation since mid-July. Wiener Linien claimed major disruptions and delays were avoided thanks to its extra tram service on the affected connection in the past weeks.

More than 360,000 people acquired annual tickets for Wiener Linien’s services last year. Managers of the firm – which is supervised by the city government – emphasised that this was a new record.

Various polls confirmed that a majority of passengers were satisfied with Vienna’s means of public transport. The network, which features more than 4,300 stops, came third in the EuroTest 2010 check on public transport networks of 23 European cities. Munich, Germany, reached the top position, with the Finnish city of Helsinki in second place. Quality of information, pricing, travel times and various other factors were investigated in the survey which listed Zagreb, Croatia, in last place.