You see them all over Vienna now, small white and blue Smart Fortwo microcars tucked away in a line of parked vehicles (only noticeable amongst their much larger brethren due to the distinctive livery) or weaving through the city’s traffic. There are some four hundred such cars in operation across the city and they form the fleet for Vienna’s latest transport option – the Car2go scheme.
Car2go is a car sharing scheme which was recently launched here in Vienna. With the aid of a Smartphone app and an electronic key, members simple locate the nearest parked car, hop in and drive off. When finished they equally simply park up and walk away. One big advantage of the scheme is you can park without restriction in the various city parking zones. A downside, voiced by some people, is that there are now additional cars taking up the limited parking spaces within the city. This ‘problem’ may dissipate if the scheme, over time, is successful at encouraging people to give-up or not replace their cars.
The cost of driving the car is reasonably set and of course you have insurance cover. It should be noted though that like any rental scheme you are liable for the first part of any costs. A friend of mine who likes sitting down and doing such things has calculated that the scheme is cheaper than taking a taxi. However, the latter is still the best option if you want a single glass of wine or beer while out as alcohol in the blood stream would nullify the insurance on the Car2go I’m told.
Such a car sharing scheme is one example of the ways in which city authorities across Europe are trying to develop the concept of a ‘smart city’, in this case addressing the dimension of ‘smart mobility’.
I know some friends who have just signed up for the scheme and I look forward to hearing their views on its pros and cons.
Wikipedia provides some further background to the scheme which is also found in parts of America, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.
From Easter I will now be able to listen to announcements on Viennese public transport in English as well as German. Does this mean I should take off the headphones?
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.