Error rate pledge as Vienna public transport gets more digital timetables

Viennese public transport agency Wiener Linien has vowed to eradicate errors on its automatic timetable information system.The company said today (Tues) it planned to increase the number of digital information boards at bus and tram stations from the current 500 to around twice this number by 2015.Critics point out that the digitalised devices’ operations have been hampered by various technical errors leading to false information displayed. They say that messages asking passengers to simply check the written timetable rather than presenting up to date arrival times, were broadcast far too often.Wiener Linien admit that the system’s software was in need of updating. The company promised to improve procedures to slash its error rate as more and more stations are equipped with the high-tech devices.The agency started testing the digital timetable information boards 15 years ago before deciding to introduce them at bus and tram stations across the city in 2007. Vienna’s tram network is the fifth-largest in the world with 172 kilometres.A survey recently showed that 89 per cent of residents of the capital are “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the quality of Vienna’s public transport service.The city’s new government coalition of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the Green Party said recently it planned to introduce initiatives leading to a five per cent increase of public transport’s current 35 per cent share in overall traffic.In the run up to last month’s city parliament election the Greens called for shorter intervals between buses, trams and underground trains and cheaper ticket prices. The coalition’s outlines for the next five years, however, lack any such plans.Most independent traffic experts have praised the coalition’s intent to reduce car traffic in Vienna. However it remains to be seen which initiatives will eventually materialise since the city’s debts are on the rise.The Greens have suggested to turn the city centre of Vienna into a road toll area for years. Only 22.97 per cent of residents participating in a referendum last February spoke out in favour of such a measure.The inclusion of the Greens’ trademark topic in the referendum was widely regarded as a bid by the SPÖ to increase its own popularity half a year ahead of the city parliament ballot. The party of Mayor Michael Häupl garnered 49.09 per cent in the 2005 vote, which was enough to claim the majority of seats in the city parliament.The Social Democrats suffered a 4.75 per cent decline in the recent election. The share of the People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Greens tumbled too while the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) improved by 10.94 per cent to 25.77 percentage points.A city centre road toll was not part of the Greens’ campaign agenda. Some analysts claimed they chose to exclude it in order to improve their chances of being a possible partner of the SPÖ.ÖVP Vienna boss Christine Marek, who expected the SPÖ to approach her party for coalition negotiations, labelled the new coalition as a “threat for Vienna”, while the FPÖ described the SPÖ-Greens partnership as a “horrific experiment”.Federal Greens head Eva Glawischnig, meanwhile, announced the government responsibility was a “unique chance” for her party. She said it was likely that the developments in Vienna could have an impact on federal politics. The Greens are only the fifth-strongest party in the federal parliament after the right-wing Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) managed to overtake them in the 2008 general election.Almost 99 per cent of the Viennese Greens backed the party’s decision to partner up with the Social Democrats in a recent summit. The board of the SPÖ Vienna branch unanimously supported the coalition agreement.