Wiener Linien records rising demand for annual passes

The number of people opting for annual Wiener Linien tickets is soaring.

A spokesman for the Viennese public transport agency told the Kurier newspaper today (Fri) that more than 8,000 people ordered annual passes last month. He explained that the average number of purchasers of this kind of ticket used to range around 2,000. Rising car fuel prices and the recent Wiener Linien ticket price reform are seen as main reasons for the development. Car club Arbö said households with two cars had to pay around 170 Euros more for the same amount of car petrol in 2011 than a year ago because of higher taxes and prices.

The Austria Traffic Club (VCÖ) said earlier this month that Austrians had bought 9.6 billion litres of petrol last year, down from 9.7 billion litres in 2010. VCÖ said the all-time record for sales in Austria dates back to 2005 when 10.2 billion litres were sold. VCÖ – which promotes eco-friendly ways of individual transport such as cycling, buses and trams – called on the government of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) to reform mineral oil product taxation. VCÖ said diesel fuel and regular petrol should be taxed equally. The taxation of diesel is currently slightly lower than the fee the state charges on the purchase of regular car fuel.

The Viennese government coalition of SPÖ and Maria Vassilakou’s Greens decided last October to lower the price for annual Wiener Linien public transport passes from 449 Euros to 365 Euros. The reform will come into effect in May. The city coalition said the measure was part of its attempts to get more people to switch from cars to trams, buses and undergrounds.

The coalition partners – which also promote cycling – were criticised by the opposition. ÖVP and Freedom Party (FPÖ) branded the Wiener Linien ticket price reform as a populist decision which may fail to increase the number of passengers. Both parties – and some Wiener Linien managers – warned that the company may not be able to cope with a possible rise in passengers. ÖVP and FPÖ also warned about a rising demand for investments into the city’s public transport service infrastructure.

The decrease of the annual pass will not be the only change SPÖ and Greens agreed on. Single tickets will be 20 Eurocent dearer. They will cost two Euros from May. Weekly passes will cost 15 instead of 14 Euros. The price for monthly public transport tickets will drop by 4.50 Euros to 45 Euros. Vienna’s annual ticket is significantly cheaper already than the same kind of pass for services in German capital Berlin (695 Euros), Paris in France (818 Euros) and London in the United Kingdom (1,270 Euros). Around 2.2 million people are using Wiener Linien’s connections each day.

Public transport claimed a share of 35 per cent in Vienna in 2009, up from 29 per cent in 1993. Cyclists’ share doubled to six per cent at the same time. A research group assigned by the city of Vienna to check the exact volume of cycling found that 11,000 people cycled a day last year. City hall officials stressed that this was a new record and an increase of 20 per cent compared to 2010. They explained that detail data of the check showed that the number of people refusing to abstain from cycling in winter was climbing. Federal statistics agency Statistik Austria found in December 2011 that, at 41 per cent, Vienna had the highest share of households with no car among Austria’s nine provinces. The organisation added that around one in five households in Tyrol and Styria did not own a vehicle either.