Category Archives: Transport

Transport poll

Despite the Austrian Times running a series of negative stories about public transport in the city, a poll of the online newspapers readers is currently showing strong support for the quality of the network.

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An update and different perspective on Vienna’s transport system

I recently wrote a piece about my positive experience of Vienna’s trams, buses and trains. I also raised some questions about the network. It seems, from the article I’ve just read in the Vienna Times, that not all the residents of the city have such a positive experience of the system with complaints on the increase.

Some interesting facts and figures from the article include:

  • “Our buses, trams and U-Bahn trains are so busy that each day they cover a distance equivalent to going four and a half times around the world. In a rush hour we operate 900 vehicles simultaneously – it’s clear that problems can occur,” Dominik Gries told Die Presse newspaper today (Tues).
  • Nearly 300 of the 500 trams in service in the city are of the old generation. (The majority of the trams on the service I use are the new model – they always make me think of snakes as they glide down the road).
  • Wiener Linien (the agency that runs the network) earns around 420 million Euros a year with ticket sales, while the city of Vienna supports the firm with almost 715 million Euros at the same time.
  • The recently introduced 24-hour U-Bahn service at the weekends and the extension of the U2 line has resulted in a growth in passenger numbers. (The U2 was in part built to take Euro Championship football fans from the city centre to the national stadium. It has also created a modern viaduct across a large part of the 22nd District which provides swift movement and some interesting views. I’m not sure however that I would want to live in one of the houses over which the train takes me each day).

Given my own positive impression in comparison to England (which is clearly influenced by the fact that I appear to primarily use the most modern parts of the network), I found this comment from ‘an independent expert’ quoted in the article interesting – “I don’t think there are more failures in public transport service in any other city in German-speaking Europe.”

 The above quote seems to be a good excuse for me to do some more travelling around German speaking Europe, purely in the name of research. If you can suggest any source for a grant to pay for the alcohol, I mean study, please drop me a line.

I also noted that the article referred to Vienna as having one of the lowest average fees for permanent parking in Europe and a comparably high number of parking spots.

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It’s Green; it works but is it an effective solution?

Since starting my new job, my appreciation of Vienna’s integrated transport system has been further enhanced. However, it has got me wondering about the degree to which such ‘green’ transport can really solve the problems caused by the pressures placed upon our cities by the growth of car usage.

To reach work I need to travel from one side of the city to the other. I’m not sure it would be possible to travel further without leaving the city. I jump on a tram outside my door, change for the underground which takes me across the river and deep into the 22nd District and then I complete my journey with a 15 minute trip on the bus. At no point do I have to wait more than 6 minutes (an almost unheard of occurrence) and the whole journey takes between an hour to one hour fifteen minutes. At peak times there are additional trams and buses to help limit the overcrowding (it doesn’t unfortunately always alleviate the problem but I am always able to get on and it never reaches the London sardine level of commuting).

As a now regular service user I buy a month ticket for 48 Euro which gives me unlimited access to trams, buses and trains within the city. Day and weekly tickets work out noticeably more expensive. The visitor to the city is always best advised to go to a Trafik (Newsagents) to buy a day or week ticket as this is cheaper than purchasing a one on the tram or bus. For those of us who use a month ticket we have to remember to go to one of the main stations to make a purchase.

The transport system in Vienna does not have the same level of coverage in all areas. The ticket price increases over recent years have made travel more expensive. It is however a modern, effective and integrated system. It is also noticeable, in comparison with England, that public transport users are a more socially mixed group.

Of interest to those thinking of driving a car in Vienna it is worth noting that buses have the right of way when indicating to pull out (by law not custom). More importantly always watch for the trams. If you hit a tram it’s obviously going to be your fault, but if a tram hits you it’s also going to be your fault. The only really exception to this I would guess is if the tram driver manages to derail their vehicle, hurtle across the road and crashes into your parked car – yes this really happened last year.

 Since our return to Vienna R has passed regular comment on the cost of using trams and buses. She has been particularly frustrated that the Greens, on entering State government in Vienna (for the first time in any State in Federal Austria), have failed to fulfil their election promise to reduce the price of public transport. I quietly try to make the point that the price of agreeing to form a coalitions is that, in exchange for the chance to achieve some of your policies, you have to put aside your commitment to others.

So Vienna has an effective public transport system. It also has zonal parking charges in the central and some other areas, as well as expensive car parks. It’s also not unusual for larger shops to have their own underground cars park – with parking layouts that make it almost impossible for the average driver not to hit a pillar or wall. With all this infrastructure and policy Vienna still has a noticeable ‘car problem’. As the questions this raises form a greater itch under my skin, I think some further investigation of the realities of Vienna and comparison with other cities may be forthcoming.

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Filed under Green, The odd thought or observation, Transport, Vienna Life