Citizen bus

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A citizens' bus is a local transport service that is usually based on a civic initiative to fill gaps in local public transport . The vehicles used in each case are also referred to as citizens' buses .

Starting in the Netherlands , where the concept was developed in 1977 as a Buurtbus (neighborhood bus), citizens' buses were first tested in Germany in the 1980s in municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia . In this minibuses ( Mercedes-Benz 207/208/307 or VW LT ) are used. From the mid-1990s onwards, so-called citizens' bus associations were founded in several German cities and municipalities in order to close gaps in local public transport timetables, both spatially and temporally. In Switzerland , too, there are now citizens' buses that replace rural regions for those that are rarely usedServing postbus courses.

Altena citizens' bus in North Rhine-Westphalia


Citizens bus associations work on a voluntary basis and finance their services through fare income, membership fees, donations and, in some cases , municipal grants. Citizens' buses can be operated both in regular services according to a fixed timetable and as an on-call bus if required. Depending on the design, they are bound by the rules of local public transport (ÖPNV) (traffic subject to approval under the Passenger Transport Act ( PBefG )). When operating in accordance with PBefG, appropriate contracts are concluded between the public transport operator, the licensed transport company and a citizens' bus association. The same requirements for operation apply as in regular public transport, i. H. Points such as tariff obligation, transport obligation, operating obligation etc. must be observed or guaranteed. If the operation takes place without a permit, no contracts are necessary, there are only requirements for the maximum vehicle size and the collection of fare. The Citizens Bus Association provides the drivers, who work free of charge, and takes care of the training of the drivers.

The vehicles are in most cases minibuses with up to eight passenger seats. Below the limit of eight passenger seats (a total of nine seats including driver), the acquisition of a bus driver's license can thus be bypassed for the driver. However, in operations that require a permit, all drivers need a passenger transport license (driving license class D1, in operation that does not require a permit, acquisition is only recommended). Another advantage of minibuses is their maneuverability, so that they can also be used on routes that larger vehicles (more than nine seats) cannot travel on. If these are used, operation is only possible in accordance with PBefG.

Most citizens' buses run in sparsely populated districts or city districts, in which there is no profitability for commercial transport and the municipal authorities do not order an offer with expense allowances. These associations take on tasks from city or local bus lines . The quality of the offer can include all variants of bus operation. This can range from dial-a-bus routes to daily intermittent operation. Many clubs are founded with a strong target group focus. For example, some citizens' bus associations specifically target disco goers and offer evening and night services for them. Other citizens' bus associations specifically target seniors. These use appropriately adapted vehicles with low-floor technology (e.g. standardized vehicles based on the VW T5 ). These enable barrier-free entry.

Some citizens' bus associations (for example in Emsbüren , Linnich or Schmallenberg ) have the task of transporting kindergarten children in addition to local transport. However, the focus on special target groups can only take place outside of the operation requiring a permit, since an operation that is subject to a permit requires transportation, i.e. This means that nobody can be excluded from the transport.

In relation to regular public passenger transport , citizens' buses are a supplement. These can relate to the operating times, for example during night traffic, or to the operating area, for example in sparsely populated areas or on low-demand cross-connections. In this function, they represent self-help measures in the area of ​​mobility. The short-term goal of the initiatives is to supplement and, in the event of offers being canceled, to maintain passenger traffic. The long-term goal is, as far as possible, to convert the offer to regular public transport.

Distribution in Germany

The model for citizen bus routes are similar initiatives in Great Britain and the Dutch Buurtbussen ( Eng .: neighborhood bus ) that have been in operation since 1977 .

The North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry for State and Urban Development laid the foundation stone for citizens 'buses in Germany in 1983 with the “ Citizens' Bus ” project. With this system, a further form of public transport should be created. Through funding, citizens should be encouraged to found citizens' bus associations that offer public local transport with minibuses on a voluntary basis. The funding guidelines provided for subsidies for the procurement of minibuses with up to 8 passenger seats and annual subsidies for the operation, provided that the operation fulfilled the following characteristics: No personnel costs, low fares, a fixed timetable for regular services and no competition with existing lines. Initially, funding was limited to five projects. These were in Heek / Legden (since March 2, 1985), Heimbach (since September 29, 1986), Emmerich (since November 11, 1986), Vreden (since February 7, 1987) and Schalksmühle (since November 27, 1988). A sixth project in Kalletal (since September 25, 1989) was funded as part of the "Lippe Public Transport Model". In 1991 the five project limit was lifted.

According to the umbrella association Pro Bürgerbus NRW e. V. 260 citizens' buses (as of November 2015). Including over 110 in North Rhine-Westphalia and around 50 in Lower Saxony.


In Baden-Württemberg , the first citizens' bus started in Salach in the Göppingen district in 2003 . There are now seven citizen bus routes in the country. In addition, since 2013 there have been initial approaches to testing electrically operated citizens 'buses (so-called e-citizens' buses). In September 2014, the umbrella association of Baden-Württemberg citizens' bus associations was founded in Uhingen (as of April 2018: 68 members). The state has issued a funding guideline that subsidizes or takes on investments and passenger transport tickets. Sascha Binder , member of the state parliament, was elected the first president .


In Bavaria there has been a citizen bus in Chiemgau since 2003, which connects Prien am Chiemsee with the towns of the Chiemgau Lake District, and since 2011 a citizen bus in Langenzenn . Since 2012 there have been two citizen bus routes in the Lichtenfels district for Burgkunstadt and Ebensfeld .


Citizens' buses have also been in use in Brandenburg since July 2004 . The first “East German” citizens' bus association was launched in Gransee , followed by the Hoher Fläming citizens' bus in September 2006, which connects the district town of Bad Belzig with the offices of Wiesenburg / Mark and Niemegk , as well as the third citizens' bus in December 2007 Brieselang . This line connects the districts of Bredow, Zeestow and Brieselang. In 2010, the Lieberose / Oberspree community bus and the Finsterwalde community bus association (singer city bus ) in the Elbe-Elster district were added. The community bus association Dallgow-Döberitz joined as the sixth community bus in the state of Brandenburg on December 16, 2013 as the last association so far.


A citizens' bus has been running in Hamburg since March 3, 2020, if pre-booked by telephone, especially for the Niendorf-Ost area in the north of Hamburg. The Niendorf-Ost citizen bus picks up passengers at the front door and transports them to the destination of their choice. The passengers are picked up in the area of ​​Niendorf-Ost. In Niendorf itself, all destinations are controlled according to the wishes of the passengers. After Schnelsen, the citizens' bus only goes to medical facilities. The project development began in August 2019. The citizens 'bus in Niendorf-Ost is a project of the Hoheluft-Grosslokstedt Citizens' Association from 1896 e. V. The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, District Office Eimsbüttel, has promoted project development and also supports ongoing operations.


In Hesse, there are citizens' buses in Kirchheim (Hesse) , Homberg (Efze) , Espenau and Ringgau / Weißenborn (Hesse) . There are plans in Gladenbach and Herborn .

Lower Saxony

Citizen buses Achimobil 1 and Achimobil 2 at Achim train station

There are around 64 citizens' buses in the state of Lower Saxony (as of March 2020). The website of the umbrella association Pro-BürgerBus-Niedersachsen offers a current overview and a lot more information.

Since 2001, the Bremen / Lower Saxony transport association (VBN) has also offered a fixed, regular timetable (as of March 2020: 23 associations with 53 lines). In addition to the citizens 'buses in Weyhe and Ganderkesee , there have also been citizens' buses in Bassum since the beginning of / mid-2008 , Syke and Butjadingen in the area of ​​the VBN a regular timetable offer. In October 2009 the Kirchlinteln citizen bus was added, and in April, June and November 2010 the citizen bus in Sottrum , Westerstede and Grasberg / Worpswede . In 2011, public buses began operating in the municipalities of Thedinghausen and Ottersberg as well as in the cities of Wildeshausen and Achim . In December 2012 the BürgerBus started in Rotenburg (Wümme) , one year later the BürgerBus in Zeven , on April 14th 2014 the BürgerBus in Ritterhude and in June and September 2014 the BürgerBus in Rastede and Bad Zwischenahn . In 2015, the citizens buses in the communities Gnarrenburg and Oyten went into operation on September 3rd. The BügerBus Edewecht followed on February 1, 2017. By expanding the VBN network area, the Visselhövede CitizenBus, which has been in service since December 2007, also became a VBN CitizenBus. And in October 2019 the Stadland CitizenBus went into operation.

A total of 23 citizens' bus associations operate in the area of ​​the Bremen / Lower Saxony transport association (VBN). Every year around 300,000 passengers used the regular services of the citizens' buses operating in the VBN area.

VBN Citizens' Bus

Passenger demand is particularly related to the settlement structure of the service areas. The number of passengers among the VBN citizens' buses mentioned varies accordingly between 250 and 3500 passengers per month. In the area of ​​the VBN, only low-floor vehicles are used, which enable comfortable, barrier-free entry. The acquisition of these specially made vehicles is funded, for example, by the Zweckverband Verkehrsverbund Bremen / Niedersachsen with up to 25,000 euros. However, these funds are not tied to the vehicle, but are also available for other cost items. In addition, the Lower Saxony regional transport company (LNVG) offers vehicle subsidies for Lower Saxony citizens' buses. For diesel-powered vehicles this is max. 79,500 euros.

North Rhine-Westphalia

Citizens' buses have existed in NRW since 1985. With currently 118 associations (as of December 2018), more than half of all citizen bus initiatives in Germany are based there. The fact that NRW became the pioneer of the citizen bus concept is due to the implementation by the state government, which pursued the adaptation of the model "Buurtbus" from the neighboring Netherlands for NRW. The state provides funding of 40,000 euros for the purchase of new citizens' buses, and even pays 55,000 euros for vehicles with disabled access. In contrast to other federal states, citizens' bus associations are supported with annual payments of 6,500 euros.

In the town of Willich on the Lower Rhine there are two citizens' buses. One for the Willich district and one for the Anrath district. However, for legal reasons, you are not allowed to connect your network to one another.

Südlohn offers cross-border traffic to Winterswijk on weekdays .


A total of 49 citizens' buses run in Rhineland-Palatinate. These operate in Eich , Daun , Bellheim , Verbandsgemeinde Leiningerland , Verbandsgemeinde Otterbach-Otterberg , Puderbach , Rheinböllen , Steinwend , Wittlich-Land , Verbandsgemeinde Weilerbach , Baumholder , Hochspeyer , Herrstein , Bodenheim , Lingenfeld , Simmern , Rhein-Selz, Kirchen (Sieg) , Büchenbeuren , Bieberntal (VG Simmern), Stromberg , Birkenfeld , Bobenheim-Roxheim , Horrweiler , Linz am Rhein , Vierthäler, Maxdorf , Traben-Trarbach , Arzfeld , Langenlonsheim , Saarburg , Nierstein , Wallhalben , Sprendlingen , Upper Kyrbachtal, Guntersblum , Külz , Offstein , Kastellaun , Kirchberg , Schopp , Weilerbach , Rodenbach , Freinsheim , Wörrstadt and in the community of Wörrstadt . There were community bus projects in Monsheim , Vallendar , Finthen , Annweiler am Trifels , Rengsdorf-Waldbreitbach , Wernersberg and Ober-Olm .


In Saxony there is a citizen bus in the Lommatzscher care . The citizens' bus in the municipality of Arzberg (North Saxony district) has been running since February 22, 2017. The municipal association “Bürgerbus Vogtland” has been operating public buses in Adorf , Bad Elster and Lengenfeld since March 6, 2017 .


In Schleswig-Holstein there are citizens' buses on Fehmarn and in the offices of Berkenthin , Hüttener Berge , Kellinghusen , Lensahn , Sandesneben-Nusse and in Bad Segeberg , Bornhöved , Brunsbüttel , Ladelund , Malente and Meldorf . The Sievershütten public bus was taken over by Autokraft , the sponsoring association decided to dissolve it. The citizen buses Fehmarn, Hüttener Berge, Ladelund, Lensahn, Malente, Meldorf and Brunsbüttel (Dithmarschen-Süd) exist as part of the local public transport (ÖPNV) and apply the Passenger Transport Act (Germany) . The , the merger of public transport involved in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, informed with a guide on citizen buses. In the district of Dithmarschen, a guideline was issued according to which public buses that run on the basis of the Passenger Transport Act (PBefG) can be subsidized. A citizen bus project for five of the six parishes in the parish of Medelby Amt Schafflund is currently in progress .

Distribution in Switzerland

In response to the closure of local stops by BLS AG , the Gondiswil - Huttwil citizens' bus was founded in the canton of Bern in 2004 and connects the communities every hour. A total of 11,906 passengers used the bus in 2010 after the only train stop in Gondiswil was closed. The cost coverage rate is over 20%, the additional costs are borne by the communities of Gondiswil and Huttwil as well as by FLYER AG (former name: Biketec AG), a local company.

In September 2007 in the municipality of Erlenbach in the canton of Zurich , the “Erlibus e. V. ". Since then, in addition to the regular services offered by the Zürcher Oberland public transport company, it has been operating a night bus system between the community's train station and the members' places of residence from Monday to Saturday 9:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Passengers who want to use this system must become a member of the association and can then use the bus for free. In total, the association currently has around 200 members who make around 3000 trips a year. Half of the bus system is financed through membership fees, the other half is borne by the Erlenbach community.

Distribution in Austria

According to a leaflet from the Salzburger Land, citizens' buses are viewed as a "freely agreed cooperation solution for micro-public transport". There is still legal uncertainty for citizens' buses. The model consists of a contractually secured partnership between a licensed company and the “Citizens Bus Association”, which organizes and positions volunteers. So far there are no examples of citizen buses in regular service, they are organized like services for the disabled and are mostly aimed at selected target groups.

Web links

Commons : Citizen bus  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Typical tasks of a citizen bus association (here: BüBu Linnich) ( Memento of the original from February 13, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Citizens' buses in Germany
  3. Ministry of Urban Development and Transport: "Citizens' bus brochure 1993" page 9 (PDF; 4.1 MB)
  4. a b c d Westfälische Nachrichten : When citizens drive for citizens - a successful model in North Rhine-Westphalia: 30 years ago the first citizens' bus took off between Ahaus and Heek ( online ), Westphalia, Münsterland, lnw, November 2, 2015
  5. [1]
  6. [2]  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  7. Salach Mobil (SAMI)
  8. Inter-communal e-citizens' bus in the Bad Boll area
  10. Karin Tutas: Minister of Transport welcomes the establishment of the Citizens Bus Association . Neue Württembergische Zeitung , September 15, 2014, accessed the following day.
  11. Citizen bus only runs on a voluntary basis
  12. Citizens Bus Langenzenn e. V.
  13. Citizens' bus in the Lichtenfels district ( Memento of the original from July 5, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  14. ^ Citizens 'buses in Brandenburg - Citizens' buses in Brandenburg. Retrieved January 25, 2017 .
  17. [3]
  19. BürgerBus Wildeshausen: BürgerBus Wildeshausen. Retrieved August 6, 2018 .
  20. Citizen bus starts running . Article in the Nordwest-Zeitung on February 1, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  21. Zweckverband Verkehrsverbund Bremen / Niedersachsen: BürgerBus ( Memento of the original from September 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  22. ^ Regional transport company Lower Saxony
  23. [4]
  24. [5]
  25. [6]
  27. [7]
  28. Citizens' bus Lommatzscher care
  29. ^ Municipality of Arzberg: Citizens' bus Arzberg, district of northern Saxony. Retrieved March 1, 2017 .
  30. Vogtlandauskunft - Lines & Networks - Transport and Lines - Citizen Bus. (No longer available online.) Formerly in the original ; accessed on June 16, 2017 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  31. ^ Vogtland Citizens Bus Association receives three minibuses. In: Plauen online magazine. Retrieved June 16, 2017 .
  35.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  36. Unteremmentaler: "2010 was an absolute record year"
  37. Homepage of Elibus e. V.
  38. [8]