Vienna public transport ticket price hike imminent, papers claim

Using public transport in Vienna may become more expensive soon, according to reports.Several daily newspapers claim today (Weds) that public transport provider Wiener Linien will raise some rates shortly as the city’s new government aims to offer cheaper tickets to the needy.The Greens of Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou made clear when they decided to form a coalition with the Social Democrats (SPÖ) of Mayor Michael Häupl last year that the price system of public transport in the capital must be reformed. The Green Party argued people receiving social benefits and residents with low incomes should be granted price reductions. The SPÖ – which lost its absolute majority in the city ballot of October 2010 – has reacted reluctantly to the suggestion.Now the press claims that some regular tickets will become slightly more expensive shortly. Reports have it that price increases are now considered as the only opportunity to offer low-priced rides to the poor considering the debt-stricken city’s tight budget.Wiener Linien – which is supervised by the Viennese government – most recently upped the price of some tickets only in 2009.Rumour has it that especially single trip tickets will become more expensive later this year. Neither officials at the SPÖ nor their Green Party counterparts were available to comment on the newspaper reports today.Tickets for public transport in the Austrian capital cost comparably little to cities of a similar size and population. A single journey ticket costs 1.80 Euros, while people have to cough up 5.70 Euros for 24-hour rider tickets. An annual pass comes for 449 Euros.Various polls have shown that the vast majority of people are pleased with the quality of public transport in Vienna. The share of underground trains, buses and trams in overall traffic in the city is expected to edge up further in the coming years due to soaring car fuel prices. Public transport had a share of 35 per cent in Vienna in 2009, six per cent more than in 1993.Vienna has the fifth-largest tram network in the world with 172 kilometres. The Australian city of Melbourne leads in this regard (245 kilometres). The Austrian capital’s 75-kilometre U-Bahn network features 101 stations after the U2 line was extended in September 2010.Wiener Linien had more customers than ever before in 2010 with 838.7 million. The firm registered 811.9 million passengers in 2009, up from 803.6 million in the previous year.Reports that tickets may soon be more costly come days after the city coalition dismissed calls to provide public transport passengers with free wireless local area network (WLAN) internet access.Sebastian Kurz, the head of the federal People’s Party (ÖVP) youth department, called on the Häupl-Vassilakou administration to implement free WLAN on buses and trams. The government however made clear it had no intentions to invest in such a project in the foreseeable future.Kurz reacted to the announcement as saying: “What works out in cities like Madrid (in Spain) and Linz (in Upper Austria) seems to be undoable in Vienna.”