Intermodality (passenger transport)

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Intermodality (also: Intermodality) refers to the use of different means of transport in the course of a journey. In intermodal traffic, a road user uses different means of transport within a route, which are linked to one another. For example, he takes the train to a larger city with an airport, covers a longer distance by plane and then takes the bus to get to his destination. An interface (e.g. an app as an information system) guarantees road users access, information and comparison of intermodal offers. The change between the means of transport takes place at transfer points where different means of transport are available.

An important goal of modern intermodal transport is to promote the use of public transport and to reduce individual traffic with cars. Intermodality makes it possible to combine the advantages of different modes of transport. Intermodal travel planners such as Google Maps or Qixxit combine different means of transport for one route and thus simplify the change between the various sub-transport systems. From several options, the traveler can choose the most suitable for him, e.g. B. the fastest or the cheapest option.


The term intermodality comes from freight transport . Intermodality is a mobility concept alongside others such as B. Monomodality and Multimodality. Monomodal traffic behavior is defined as "exclusive use of a means of transport on all routes that are carried out within a certain period of time". Multimodal traffic describes the "(changing) use of different means of transport when making trips within a certain period of time", i.e. the variation of means of transport on different routes. Intermodality, on the other hand, refers to a route for which different modes of transport are combined with one another. In some cases, intermodality is viewed as a special form of multimodality.

Intermodality in long-distance transport

In intermodal long-distance transport, the roads, rail, air and water are used to combine plane, train, long-distance bus and ferry. Intermodal travel planners enable road users to find out about the transport options and to optimize their choice of transport. Most of the tools can be used free of charge. The integrated means of transport and the range of functions vary depending on the travel planner. In some planners, for example, B. book the tickets for the various modes of transport. While monomodal tools like the meta search engine Skyscanner compare flights from different providers, multimodal tools like Rome2Rio evaluate connections from different means of transport for the same route. As an intermodal route planner, Google Maps records public transport with fixed routes and fixed timetables as part of Google Transit. While urban local transport is taken into account, there is a lack of flights as an important long-distance means of transport. In addition to long-distance trains, the local transport of the regional transport associations can also be researched via the timetable information provided by Deutsche Bahn . The intermodal travel planner Qixxit compares the main long-distance modes of transport by train, plane and long-distance bus and combines them for one route. From various options, travelers can book the option that is best for them.

Intermodality in urban local transport

Intermodality plays a major role as a mobility concept of the future, especially in urban areas. Within cities, the combination of public transport such as train, bus, tram etc. within one route is largely a matter of course. In the past, greater attention was paid to the connection of private transport with cars and public transport, especially in the context of Park + Ride . Today the bicycle is gaining more and more importance in the fine-tuning of the urban area. Here we speak of bike + ride . The boom in one-way car sharing and bike sharing is opening up a new dimension, especially in large cities. The challenge here is to make as many offers as possible accessible using a single tool. Develop z. For example, the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) has launched the “Jelbi” app for Berlin, which should be operational in summer 2019. Around 20 transport providers are integrated into it. So-called hubs are to be set up at central points, where the various means of transport such as rental cars, rental bikes or scooters are available for transfer.

Advantages of intermodal transport

Intermodal traffic behavior conserves resources and promotes sustainability. The reduction of individual traffic relieves the environment. In urban areas in particular, this reduces pollution from exhaust gases, noise, traffic jams and parking. The individual user also benefits from intermodal transport. He has to spend fewer resources to cover distances. By combining different modes of transport, he can use their respective advantages, such as the speed of an airplane and the lower costs of a long-distance bus. Due to the different networks of the different providers, the user also has better options for getting to his destination, for example if there is no train station at a location, but a long-distance bus stop.

Challenges of intermodal transport

The challenges of intermodal transport lie in recognizing and accepting the individual and global advantages for users. This also includes the willingness to do without one's own car. Another challenge is to bring together the various competing transport providers in cooperation and to bring together the various ticket and payment systems in such a way that road users can use them easily. Last but not least, data protection is an issue.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Bastian Chlond, Wilko Manz: INVERMO - The mobility panel for long-distance traffic. Dynamic and static elements of traffic behavior - The German Mobility Panel. Scientific Colloquium Karlsruhe 2000. In: Series of publications of the German Transport Science Society, Issue B 234, Bergisch Gladbach 2001, pp. 203–227.
  2. Characterization and connections between multimodality and intermodality FIS research information system for mobility and traffic, accessed on March 3, 2019.
  3. Martin Randelhoff: | Briefly explained: What is intermodal transport? Future mobility, accessed on March 3, 2019.
  4. Annkathrin Weis: How an app should help you say goodbye to your own car . In:, February 24, 2019, accessed on March 3, 2019.
  5. With "Jelbi" from the bus to the rental bike to the taxi . In:, February 18, 2019, accessed on March 3, 2019.
  6. Felix Beutler: Multimodality and Urbanibility: Vision for sustainable urban transport . Discussion Paper SPIII 2004-107, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Berlin 2004, p. 16, accessed on March 3, 2019.
  7. Ariane Bemmer: Mobility I don't give a damn about . In: Der Tagesspiegel, February 18, 2019, accessed on March 3, 2019.

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