Significance of local public transport
Local public transport is very important for getting from A to B in a flexible manner in your everyday life. Each day, more than 30 million passengers use local public transport. For them, the attractiveness of buses and trains not only depends on the degree of comfort they offer. The link quality and the convenience of getting timetable information and buying tickets are also particularly important to passengers. Public transport in Germany guarantees mobility and ensures independence from one’s own car and from car-sharing schemes. The quality of local public transport affects our decisions on where we work, where we live and where we shop. It contributes to improved road safety, a better environment and affordable mobility – and thus has a positive impact on our quality of life.
Especially against the background of the demographic development, the necessity of high-quality and user-friendly public local transport becomes evident. According to the latest study on mobility in Germany, at least about 17 percent of the population in rural regions only rarely or never use a passenger car. This figure includes particularly older people.
Mobility opportunities are a key element of social participation and thus personal, social and professional development of every individual. This particularly holds true for people with disabilities or mobility constraints. Many disabled persons without their own passenger car rely on public transport. Trains, buses and coaches as well as tramcars, are essential for their participation in public life.
Therefore, the transport sector plays a vital role in the Act on Equal Opportunities for Disabled Persons (BGG) and Amending Other Acts. Within the narrow scope of responsibilities of the Federal Government, the BGG amended significant acts in the field of local public transport, rail and air transport. As such,
- the Act on Federal Government Financial Aid to Improve Transport at the Local Authority Level,
- the Carriage of Passengers Act,
- the Construction and Operation of Railways Regulations,
- the Civil Aviation Act,
- and the Federal Trunk Roads Act
include different rules that aim at ensuring the greatest accessibility possible. The participation rights of disabled persons were strengthened. For the Federal Government, the principle of accessibility means more quality for all users. Older people, as well as children and people with buggies or heavy luggage usually encounter the same access barriers as disabled persons. Accessibility therefore is an important quality seal in local public transport. Developments in recent years as well as our ageing society underline that today, ensuring the greatest possible accessibility is a necessary element of transport policy.
Increasing congestion on the roads as well as noise and air pollution by cars are getting on our nerves and stressing us every day. Compared with private motorized transport, the advantages of local public transport are obvious: considerably more people can ride in a single vehicle, and less surface needs to be asphalted. Moreover, specific energy consumption and pollutant emissions per passenger are much lower than with private motorized transport. Well-developed local public transport is an attractive and environmentally sound alternative to many journeys that are otherwise often made by car. In purely mathematical terms, the 30 million passengers using local public transport avoid about 20 million passenger car rides every day.
Local public transport is an energy-efficient and climate-friendly mode of transport. For the transport sector to reach its own goals and to appropriately contribute to achieving the climate change goals of the Federal Government, even local public transport needs to further increase its energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A study commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure looked into different options for achieving this goal and assessed a standardised way of determining greenhouse gas emissions of local public transport.
Local public transport is also of substantial economic importance. It helps millions of commuters get to their destinations every day without congestion – and thus without requiring additional time or energy. What is more, transport operators and integrated transport authorities are an important employment factor. In Germany, there are approximately 75 integrated transport authorities; the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) alone comprises about 450 local public transport companies. Calculations indicate that just under 400,000 permanently secure jobs result directly or indirectly from local public transport services.