Public transport authority

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The local public transport policy in Germany since the regionalization and the entry into force of the regionalization law on 27 December 1993 for the organization and financing of public transport in charge (public transport). This includes local public road passenger transport (ÖSPV) in accordance with the Passenger Transport Act (PBefG) and local rail passenger transport (SPNV) in accordance with the General Railway Act (AEG). Depending on the federal state and differentiated according to local rail and public transport, these functions are assigned to different authorities and organizations,

Legal bases

The regionalization law names public transport as a task of general interest , which authorities have to perform this task is regulated by state law. The designation of these authorities as task carriers comes from Section 8 (3) of the Passenger Transport Act (PBefG), which is how these authorities to be designated by the federal states are designated. In the local traffic laws of the federal states, the term is used not only for the public transport authorities regulated by the PBefG, i.e. buses (in local and regional traffic), trams and underground trains , but also for the local rail passenger transport that is not covered by the PBefG .

According to federal law, the responsible authorities are also the responsible authorities in accordance with the EU regulation Regulation (EU) No. 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and road. This ordinance regulates the award of transport services in the public interest.

Before 1993, the federal states and municipalities had also taken on tasks through their owner functions as well as grants and loss compensation for municipal and private companies in local transport, but not as institutionalized authorities and without a uniform legal basis. With the regionalization and the subsequent adjustments to the PBefG and the local public transport laws, they received for the first time uniform responsibility for guaranteeing services of general interest in public transport, both in terms of planning and financing.

Performing the tasks

In the regional public transport laws, the federal states have stipulated which bodies specifically take on the role of public transport authority within the respective state. Most countries differentiate between local rail transport and public transport. While the function of the public transport authority for public transport is uniformly assigned to the districts or districts and urban districts in all regional states , it is in different hands depending on the federal state. Some federal states have taken on this task themselves, usually in the form of regional transport companies, while others have assigned the task to the municipal level in the same way as public transport , but in all cases with the stipulation that this task should be taken over in the form of municipal special-purpose associations or transport associations .

Local rail transport authority

Local rail transport authority in Germany

In the federal states of Baden-Württemberg , Bavaria , Berlin , Brandenburg , Bremen , Hamburg , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , Lower Saxony , Saarland , Saxony-Anhalt , Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia , the function as local rail transport authority is carried out by the federal states themselves or through a state-owned company perceived. Berlin and Brandenburg use the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg as a joint association, but formally remain the responsible authorities themselves. In Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony, the regional rail transport in the greater Stuttgart and Freiburg or Hanover and Braunschweig areas is assigned to municipal special-purpose associations; the regional companies are only responsible for the parts of the state outside the greater areas. The regional rail transport in Hesse , North Rhine-Westphalia , Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony is generally assigned to municipal special-purpose associations .

All 27 federal German regional rail transport authorities are organized in the Federal Working Group on Local Rail Transport (BAG-SPNV). The BAG-SPNV represents the interests of its members in cross-regional matters and coordinates and bundles procedures with the railway companies . Other priorities of the BAG-SPNV are the exchange of information between the members, the joint development of concepts and the coordination of negotiation strategies.

Public transport authority

Public transport (buses, trams and underground trains) is assigned to the municipal level in all federal states. As a rule, the function is taken over by the respective city and district administrations. In some cases - without affecting the basic assignment of the task - regional bus transports can be taken over by the regional rail transport associations or transport associations, the municipalities themselves then only take on the corresponding tasks for their local transport offers. This is possible in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, for example. In Hesse, municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants are also responsible for the district. Another special feature in Hesse is the possibility of transferring the task authority functions at the local level to local public transport companies. Various federal states have created the possibility of transferring the functions of public authorities in whole or in part to municipalities belonging to the district, such as Bavaria and Brandenburg.

Regardless of the respective legal basis in the federal states, various authorities outside Hesse have decided to outsource the management functions, in particular planning, awarding and controlling, to independent management companies comparable to the local public transport companies and not to perform them within the administration. In this three-level model , the function essentially remains the formulation of targets with regard to services of general interest and the supervision of the management company with the responsible authority. The commissioned transport company takes on the provision of services, i.e. the provision of the specific transport offers.

So far, the public transport authorities have only worked informally under the umbrella of the municipal umbrella organizations in a joint BAG ÖPNV.


On the one hand, the federal German public transport authorities, as those responsible for guarantees, are responsible for ensuring that there is sufficient public transport in terms of public services. On the other hand, they are responsible for awarding and concluding corresponding public service contracts in accordance with EU Regulation 1370/2007 .

Most regional public transport laws define the provision of services of general interest as a voluntary task, only Hesse, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia are exceptions. The indefinite concept of services of general interest gives the public transport authorities a wide margin of discretion within which they can determine the adequate supply in terms of services of general interest. The corresponding planning instrument for concretising what is considered to be sufficient service is the local transport plan, which is named as a mandatory task in almost all state laws. Ensuring this offer in all local transport laws includes not only the timetable and the tariffs, but also aspects such as environmental compatibility, vehicles, accessibility and the design of the infrastructure. Accordingly, the local transport laws require these aspects to be taken into account in the regular local transport plans.

The second essential task is to order the relevant transport services, provided that no transport company is prepared to provide them on its own. This ordering principle was most recently anchored in EU Regulation 1370/2007. This is the rule in local rail transport and is financed by the federal government through regionalization funds. Local rail transport services financed by companies with fare revenues alone are theoretically possible, but not known in practice. In ÖSPV, the self-financed service has priority according to PBefG. However, if a public transport authority assesses this as insufficient in terms of the standards defined by it in the local transport plan, it has the option of ordering these transport services via a corresponding service contract. In addition, according to the EU regulation, the transport authorities can specify maximum tariffs for certain groups of passengers or all passengers via a general rule and regulate a corresponding financial compensation for the transport companies. However, this does not include tariff reductions for school and trainee traffic according to § 45a PBefG and § 6a General Railway Act (AEG) as well as compensation payments for the transport of severely disabled people according to SGB  IX.

The public transport authorities have the option of awarding service contracts in competition or of having them performed directly by a company in their own possession. In both cases, however, in the case of PBefG traffic, other companies must be given the opportunity to do this on their own, i.e. without co-financing by the public transport authorities, by giving advance notice in good time. Allocation and financing are only permitted if no company submits a corresponding application for approval. Prerequisites are defined and transparent compensation parameters.

Public transport laws of the federal states

In accordance with the legal bases described in the introduction, the 16 German federal states passed laws on local public transport, mostly simply public transport law , in the mid-1990s . The Berlin Public Transport Act of 1995 was incorporated into its second section when the Berlin Mobility Act 2018 came into force .

See also

List of transport authorities in public transport


  • Sibylle Barth: Federal regionalization law and public transport laws of the federal states. In: Hubertus Baumeister (Ed.): Law of the public transport system , DVV Media Group, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-7771-0455-3 , pp. 235-450
  • Jan Werner: Traffic law. In: Hubertus Baumeister (Ed.): Law of the public transport , DVV Media Group, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-7771-0455-3 , pp. 459-755

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Sibylle Barth: Regionalization law of the federal government and public transport laws of the states. P. 291.
  2. ^ Sibylle Barth: Regionalization law of the federal government and public transport laws of the states. P. 238.
  3. NVG Rhineland-Palatinate Section 6 (9)
  4. ^ Sibylle Barth: Regionalization law of the federal government and public transport laws of the states. P. 337.
  5. ÖPNVG Hesse, § 6, paragraph 1
  6. BayÖPNVG Article 9
  7. Brandenburg Public Transport Act, Section 3 (3a)
  8. Volker Eichmann et al .: Environmentally friendly, attractive and efficient public transport - a manual. Abstract, study on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency , Berlin 2005. p. 16 , accessed on July 16, 2015 .
  9. ^ Federal working group of public transport authorities
  10. ^ Sibylle Barth: Regionalization law of the federal government and public transport laws of the states. P. 341.
  11. ^ Sibylle Barth: Regionalization law of the federal government and public transport laws of the states. P. 318.