Fuel price hikes make public transport more popular

More and more people are using means of public transport as car fuel prices hit a new high.

Diesel cost 1.42 Euros on average last month, according to car club Arbö while the price for Eurosuper soared to 1.46 Euros. Arbö underlined that motorway service stations were charging up to 1.59 Euros for one litre of diesel and even more for the same amount of Eurosuper petrol.

The organisation criticised the government for “doing nothing against the trend”. It hit out at the government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) for jacking up taxes on mineral oil products several times in the past years. Forty-seven per cent of the current diesel fuel and almost 53 per cent of the price for one litre of Eurosuper petrol are made up of taxes.

The current developments – which are also fuelled by the Easter holidays when petrol stations traditionally up prices – help public transport agencies to more customers. Experts said that the number of public transport passengers would climb especially in regions with convenient and reliable networks.

Vienna’s public transport has a good reputation. The capital’s public transport agency Wiener Linien serves around 2.4 million daily passengers. Wiener Linien’s network came third in EuroTest 2010, a survey of the quality of service on public transport in 23 European cities. Experts examined aspects like the travel times and ticket prices. Munich in Germany made first place. The public transport network of Helsinki, the capital of Finland, finished second.

Around 390,000 people hold annual Wiener Linien passes at the moment. The number could rise further in the coming months thanks to a price reduction. The Viennese annual public transport ticket will cost 365 Euros from May, down from 449 Euros. The city coalition of SPÖ and Greens agreed on this discount in October. The city government’s decision to jack up the price for other kinds of tickets – including single tickets and weekly passes – is not expected to negatively affect the current development.

Federal Railways (ÖBB) and its new private rival Westbahn register rising passenger figures as well. ÖBB officials said yesterday (Tues) that the number of passengers was especially improving in eastern Austria. Westbahn welcomes thousands of new customers a day, according to reports. The company headed by ex-ÖBB manager Stefan Wehinger has operated between Vienna and Salzburg since December. It is increasingly popular among commuters as it stops more often on the route than ÖBB’s Railjet service.

Arbö experts think that the price for car fuel in Austria will not reach new record levels in the foreseeable future due to price declines on the international oil trading markets. Diesel and Eurosuper petrol cost around half as much 10 years ago, the motorists’ association said.

Strongly rising car fuel prices have kept inflation high in Austria in the past months. Petrol was 10 per cent dearer in February 2012 than in the same month of last year, according to federal statistics authority Statistik Austria. Inflation was 2.6 per cent in February 2012. This had been the least significant increase since January 2011, according to Statistik Austria.