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17. Jul 2023
/ Germany
Attractive public transport as key to the mobility turn: the German Consumer Report 2023
The mobility of the future must be possible without owning a car. An overwhelming majority of people in Germany agrees with this, according to the German Consumer Report 2023 of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv). However, many people, especially in rural areas, are still disconnected from local public transport. Complete independence from individual transport can only be achieved if mobility offers attract more people. Public transport must become more appealing. But what does that mean and how can we achieve this mobility of the future?

According to the representative survey by the vzbv, respondents value punctual and reliable means of transport above all. Transparency and accurate information in the event of disruptions and delays are also crucial. 87 percent of respondents stated that a clear and simple fare system is important to them. For 85 percent, an attractive public transport system is characterised by a varied offer with a high number of departures at the stops. Our 2021 study on public transport in Germany shows that there is already a dense network of stops in Germany. However, when we consider the frequency of the means of transport, a divide between urban and rural regions becomes evident. While almost all city dwellers have access to stops with at least one departure per hour, nearly 40 percent rural inhabitants are not sufficiently connected to the public transport system.

91 percent of respondents in the vzbv study believe that the federal government is responsible and call for increased government investment in public transport. Dr. Peter Jakubowski, Head of the Department of Spatial and Urban Development at the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development, also appeals to the government and calls for “nationwide standards and quality criteria for services and accessibility to make public transport even more attractive and to strengthen it as an alternative to the car, especially in rural areas.” The federal government recognises the relevance of public transport and sees it as an important part of services of general interest. The government has set the goal of expanding and modernising it and significantly increasing passenger numbers. By 2030, the inhabitants of Germany should travel twice as often by bus and train. To achieve this, public transport must meet the following criteria according to the coalition agreement: it should be as emission-free as possible, barrier-free, digitalised, innovative and, above all, accessible through affordable prices. To ensure these criteria are met, minimum standards are to be established for urban and rural areas. A first step was the introduction of the “Deutschlandticket” in May, which allows season ticket holders to use public transport at a uniform tariff for the whole of Germany. Further measures and binding quality criteria are to be defined in an expansion and modernisation pact to be concluded between the government and the federal states. The development of this pact is planned for the conference of transport ministers scheduled for autumn 2023.

Efficient public transport with the help of mobility data

For the mobility of the future, mobility data play a significant role. This data allows for the analysis of population and prediction of needs. As a result, mobility offers can be precisely tailored, increasing their climate-friendliness. However, many people are skeptical about sharing personal data. This skepticism is also reflected in the vzbv study. Participants were asked under what circumstances they would share traffic data. Almost half of the respondents would share data if it improves traffic flow and simplifies their own route planning. 43 percent are willing to share data if it saves costs. Only a quarter of the respondents would share mobility data without restrictions. The concerns are understandable, but sensitive data is not used in transport planning. Mobility data is anonymised, meaning no conclusions can be drawn about individual persons.

More important are the routes taken throughout the day. Based on these patterns, the mobility behaviour of the population can be analysed and new mobility concepts can be developed. For example, our Mobility Analytics & Consulting team uses mobility data to develop and revise local transport plans, which contain criteria for regulating public transport in an area. The data is used to adjust departure frequencies, positions of stops and the number of means of transport to the real needs of the population. This approach can improve access to public transport, especially in rural areas. The use of existing mobility data alone can make a decisive contribution to making public transport more appealing for all inhabitants of Germany and to advancing the mobility turn.

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