I recently wrote about the success of the new public transport pricing scheme here in Vienna. Well it would appear from this report in the Austrian Times that it’s going to leave me standing and oddly I think that’s rather good news
To recap, in May the Red/Green State coalition government reduced the price of the annual pass from 449 Euro to 365 Euro. In addition they reduced the cost of a monthly ticket from 49.50 to 45 Euro, while increasing the weekly and day ticket prices. This leaves Vienna as one of the cheapest cities in Europe for traveling on what is one of the best public transport systems on the continent.
As an annual pass holder I am ever happy with this development but also as a resident of the city I benefit from the environmental gains achieved as more people take to public transport. With the increase of passengers using the integrated tram, bus and train system Wiener Linien (Transport Company) are having to find new ways to cope with these greater numbers. One solution is to be piloted on my local tramline, the No43. Some seats are to be removed to allow more standing room, as well as additional space for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
So will having to stand at peak times annoy me? Frankly the answer is no. To be honest we have an excellent system, well priced and the trams, buses and trains turn up on time. Standing on the tram occasionally is a small price to pay and it’s hardly London sardine hell round here.
As a seasoned traveller I have over the years found my journey’s delayed for a variety of reasons, accidents, detours and even a few years back in England leaves on the line and the wrong type of snow. However, Saturday night marked a new first.
There we were at the tram stop in pleasant discourse regarding Austria Wien’s 5:0 home win and how other results that evening had gone our way. But our conversation trailed off, as did the discussions of others around us awaiting the arrival of the tram. One by one we all turned to look and then turned back to each other. Was that right? Was it our collective imaginations? No there was murmured agreement all around; there really was a plumb of smoke issuing up from the tramline some 15 metres from where we stood.
Someone had immediately made a call on their mobile phone and within three minutes fire vehicles and a police car were on the scene. At approximately the same moment our tram arrived and in the time honoured manner of public transport users we all piled on board to grab a seat. This rush for a seat seemed a little foolish as the driver announced an unsurprising delay and passengers’ starting drifting back outside to watch the fire service at work.
In no time at all the question of the smoking tramline had been sufficiently resolved for the police to allow our tram to proceed. As we left the emergency services to investigate the cause of the smoke, our conversation returned to the subject of football and the crunch game next Wednesday against Sturm Graz. However, the discussion was punctuated by the phrase ‘l don’t believe it’ as members of our party turned to look out of the window and back at the scene of the recent excitement.