Vienna public transport fourth in European check

Vienna has one of the most popular public transport services in Europe.

The Austrian Traffic Club (VCÖ) said yesterday (Thurs) that it investigated 15 cities all over the continent to determine the shares public transport took. The Austrian capital ranked fourth with a stake of 36 per cent. Czech capital Prague and Madrid in Spain are tied for first place (43 per cent), with Brussels and Belgium, in third at 37 per cent. VCÖ said the German cities of Berlin, Munich and Hamburg fared badly with public transport shares of between 26 per cent and 19 per cent. The Austrian organisation also explained that it was impossible to check the capital cities of all 27 European Union (EU) member countries due to a lack of available data.

Earlier this week, VCÖ said Austrians took trains, buses, U-Bahn trains and tramways for an average of 2,910 kilometres (km) last year. Czechs were found to be the only people with a higher usage of public transport in the EU in 2010. Their per capita figure was 2,010 km, according to the Viennese traffic research organisation. Lithuania came last in the VCÖ study with a per capita record of 960 km.

The government of Vienna – which has the fifth-largest tram network in the world – wants to reduce motorised traffic by a third in the coming four years. The coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and Greens agreed on higher investments into public transport and cycling infrastructure after teaming up last year, but are expected to clash over whether parking taxes should be raised. The steady number of commuters using cars to get to work in Vienna is seen as a key question that the left-wing city government will have to deal with in times of soaring fine dust levels and carbon emission rates.

The coalition agreed earlier this month to slash the price of an annual pass for the services of public transport provider Wiener Linien from 449 Euros to 365 Euros as of next May. There is at least one annual ticket holder in a third of the city’s households, according to VCÖ research. SPÖ and Greens are confident that the price reduction will convince more people of the advantages of public transport, while Wiener Linien managers voiced concerns that the firm could be unable to cope with soaring passenger figures. The price for single tickets will rise by 20 Eurocents to two Euros as part of the latest price reform.

The agreement to lower the price for annual public transport passes came after the Greens promised to slash it to 100 Euros if they join a government coalition. The party of Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou also vowed to reduce the price for single tickets to one Euro. It remains to be seen whether the May 2012 price reform enlarges the debts of the city or helps the government to reduce them due to more users of public transport. Wiener Linien is supervised by the city government. The Viennese administration makes decisions surrounding the company’s budget and nominates its board.

Vienna’s public transport has 2.3 million daily passengers. The network came third in EuroTest 2010, a survey of the quality of service on public transport in 23 European cities. Experts examined aspects like travel times and the standard of general information given to customers. Ticket prices played a role in the survey which ranked Munich in Germany on first place. Helsinki in Finland came second, while the public transport network of Croatian capital Zagreb was found to be the worst. London in the United Kingdom, Budapest in Hungary and Ljubljana, Slovenia, also performed poorly in the public transport investigation.