More fare dodgers caught in Vienna

The number of public transport fare dodgers caught this year has risen sharply in Vienna, new figures show.The city’s public transport operator Wiener Linien announced today (Mon) around 165,000 people were fined for using trams, buses and underground trains without valid tickets during the first 10 months of this year. Around 270 staff carried out more than 5.4 million checks in that period.Around four million ticket checks among passengers throughout last year led to 135,000 fare dodgers for the whole of 2009.Wiener Linien claimed it had managed to reduce the share of fare dodgers among all passengers from five to three per cent year on year by increasing the number of checks.The agency is also carefully examining developments in Germany where a criminologist suggested the introduction of a “drink and ride” limit for public transport passengers to slash the number of attacks on staff and other passengers.Christian Pfeiffer said the implementation of a legal limit for passengers could improve the situation in trains and trams in cities like Berlin which register hundreds of violent incidents on some days.Public transport currently has a 35 per cent share of overall traffic in Vienna. The new coalition government of the Viennese Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the Greens presented plans to increase this percentage figure by five per cent during the next five years.Most independent traffic analysts and urban planning experts have reacted overall positively to the concept. It has, however, to be seen how much money the city government will have at its hands to spend on improving the Viennese public transport network since the city is deep in the red.SPÖ Vienna financial affairs councillor Renate Brauner said she expected earnings of 10.81 billion Euros and spending of 11.43 billion Euros next year. These predictions would increase the city’s debt to around almost three billion Euros.The Greens said ahead of the 10 October city parliament election, in which they bagged 12.64 per cent (2005: 14.63 per cent), they would try to slash public transport tickets if coming to a coalition agreement with the SPÖ. The city government’s recently presented a 77-page programme, but it does not yet feature such a measure.