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Logos often used in Germany for the different types of public transport
Train of the Cologne S-Bahn in Cologne Messe / Deutz station (May 2016).
Public transport in Austria ( Vienna subway )
Public transport in Thailand ( Bangkok Skytrain )
HADAG port ferry 62 in Hamburg
Regular service by barge in the Spreewald

Local public transport ( ÖPNV ) is the term used to describe passenger transport as part of public transport (ÖV) as part of the basic supply by road, rail, water and by cable car . Despite the term "public passenger mass transit " is this not only in transport , but partly also in regional transport to be found. The term is differentiated from individual transport (not public ), freight transport (not people ) and long-distance transport (notLocal transport ).


Horse omnibus in Copenhagen (1907)

Local public transport has historically its roots in regular ferry connections across rivers and lakes. Forerunners of taxi transport used the sedan chair ( portechaise , which was introduced in Paris from 1617 and from there spread across Europe) and the carriage , as well as in Asia (partly until today) the rickshaw . In England, the first stagecoach line between London and Chester was finally put into operation in 1657, and the Carrosses à cinq sols , which served several lines in Paris from 1662, are the world's first public transport system .

A number of inventions from the beginning of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century form the technical basis for public transport as a mass transport system:

  • The horse omnibus , in contrast to carriages or cabs, to be used by the general public (Latin omnibus = for everyone)
  • The horse-drawn tram , used in particular as a horse-drawn tram, which made the horses' work easier by rolling on rails and saved passengers from rumbling over the pavement
  • Steam engine
    • the steam locomotive , for suburban trains on the railway, also for traction on trams and underground trains ( London 1863) for the development of metropolitan areas
    • the steamship for regular trips across lakes and rivers as well as in large ports (e.g. the port of Hamburg )
    • the steam bus , which caused a sensation in England in particular, but which soon failed due to registration and speed restrictions
  • Funiculars powered by water ballast (since 1882)
  • Electric railways
    • the electric tram, which saved horses, increased speed and made larger cars and trains possible
    • the electrically operated elevated and underground railway as a means of transport for large flows of passengers on independent routes
    • electrically operated railcars on railway lines in the vicinity
  • Trackless railways
    • the electrically-powered trolleybus , the construction and maintenance of the required at the tram track spared
  • Buses
  • the magnetic levitation train , which is kept in suspension by magnetic forces (since 1914)
First petrol omnibus in the world
Drawing of the magnetic levitation train in London, 1914

The first regular service with motorized buses in Germany was introduced by the Netphener Omnibusgesellschaft in 1895.

In the second half of the 19th century, local public transport took off when, due to the industrial revolution , the cities and industrial regions expanded spatially and the population density increased. The distance between home and work could only be bridged by walking for hours or by bike . The modes of transport initially responded by expanding the horse-drawn trams, and from 1890 the triumphant advance of both the electric trams (trams, trams, electric) and the electrically operated underground trains began , the latter of which had initially been running with steam locomotives in London since 1863 . In megacities, however, traffic increased so quickly that around 1900 traffic jams and unreliability made the trams a problem. In order to increase the efficiency of public transport, some of the railways were given their own routes above or below the surface ( elevated , underground , metro and S-Bahn ).

In addition to the horse-drawn trams, there were also more than one hundred human-powered trams around the world . It was most widespread with around sixty factories in Taiwan, then Japan . The Shenten tram was a tourist attraction until a few years ago. Another twenty such railways existed in Japan and Korea , and 18 existed in the then European colonies in Africa , mainly in present-day Mozambique .

When the automobile increasingly developed into a means of mass transport in Europe in the mid-1950s , the number of passengers in public transport fell, a development that had already started in the USA in the 1920s. Those responsible initially reacted by thinning out the range of services and replacing trams with buses, as they were assumed to be more flexible in the face of increasing traffic jams. The tram was also often seen as outdated and an obstacle to motor vehicle traffic. It was not until the beginning of the environmental discussion at the beginning of the 1970s that an attempt was made to regain lost ground through the formation of transport associations based on the motto “Different transport companies, but only one ticket” and with coordinated, company-independent timetables. As the first transport association, the Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (HVV) was founded in 1965, which encompassed (almost) all local transport in the entire city area as well as in many peripheral communities. Germany's largest transport association is the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR) from 1980. In Switzerland, the Tarifverbund Nordwestschweiz (TNW) was the first association in 1987. Other metropolitan areas in Europe followed. The first German citizens' bus went into operation on March 4, 1985 in Ahaus, Westphalia .

Standard bus from Magirus-Deutz in city traffic

In the field of omnibus transport, the standard bus, which was introduced in 1967 and then shaped the streets of many cities into the 21st century, is considered a milestone in development. It was an attempt to simplify the operation, maintenance and repair of buses in public transport companies by reducing them to a few standardized bus types. Since then, public city buses have had a simple, cubic design.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the federal states have been responsible for local transport in Germany. They themselves or those commissioned by them (e.g. special purpose associations) are responsible for the local rail transport (S-Bahn and regional transport). The districts and independent cities are responsible for the rest of the public transport (buses, trams, underground trains). The central plan for local transport are the local transport plans .

There are also increasing numbers of special forms of public transport .

Transport performance in comparison of the means of transport

The various means of transport used in local public transport have different maximum transport capacities. The transport performance depends heavily on the conditions, such as separate routes for trams and buses or integration into private transport .

Means of transport People per hour [P / h]
Tram on its own route 12,000-20,000
Optimized express bus , with its own lane 9,000
Funicular 1 8,000
Moving walkway 8,000
Optimized express bus, without its own lane 6,000
Express bus without its own lane 4,000-6,300
Automated People Mover 4,500
Tricable gondola 3,000-6,000

Bicable ropeway 3,000-6,000
Tram together with private transport 3,400-4,600
Funitel 3,200-4,000
Monocable gondola 3,000-4,000
MiniMetro 3,000
Aerial tramway 1 2,800
omnibus 2,300
Group cable car 1 600
Inclined elevator 1 500
Group cable car 1 400
taxi 4-8

1 For all means of shuttle service, be it funicular railways, aerial tramways, group railways, inclined lifts or elevators, the transport performance depends on the length of the route

Comparisons between the transport capacities of different modes of transport are only permitted if the figures were determined under the same conditions . The transport services of buses and trams depend to a large extent on the minimum possible time between vehicles. In the calculation, train sequences of around 30 seconds are possible for trams , but not in practice because of the interaction with other traffic ( individual traffic , pedestrians).


Social importance

The regionalization law of the Federal Republic of Germany of December 27, 1993 defines ensuring that the population is adequately served with public transport services as a task of the constitutionally anchored public services . The local transport laws of the federal states describe this task in more detail by providing more precise information on how to take certain public goals into account. Thus, most state laws require consideration of the interests of seniors , families , connecting socially important goals and the connection to the central and regional centers . It is still of great importance to ensure the mobility of citizens , and public transport is often viewed as too expensive. While in the past the main task was to enable traffic at all , today only the "serving" function of local public transport in urban areas is emphasized in contrast to motorized individual traffic (MIT) and in relieving the environment of pollutants . As a result of privatization, local public transport is becoming a market economy-oriented service, which means that financial compensation payments from the public sector are no longer part of the basic service .

In cross-border agglomerations, public transport is more important than motorized traffic. The complex legal framework, however, leads to a lower supply. Local public transport is an integration catalyst because it serves to promote integration between people across national borders.

Public transport and migration

For foreigners, the use of public transport is important for integration. For example, a study showed that migrants in Vienna take part in local public transport disproportionately often and use the car less often - as drivers or passengers - compared to locals. In Germany too, migrants walk disproportionately often or use local public transport, and they drive less by car than Germans.

Public transport and poverty

Metro Cable in Medellin

Poor and especially women in the informal sector (unregulated work, wild living ), who necessarily depend on several sources of income in different places and at different times, need a flexible and comprehensive public transport system even outside of rush hour. Since these systems do not exist in the poor areas of the peripheral zones of the city ​​(around one eighth of the world's population lives in slums) and this group of people only has a low household income, these people have to walk long distances or make frequent transfers . For long travel distances, travel times of sometimes more than three hours a day (more than 50% of all journeys in Bogota) or more than five hours a day (10% of workers in Mexico) are common.

From 2004, in some South American metropolises, urban districts located on hills were increasingly developed by cable cars with several intermediate stations, and public facilities such as libraries, free Internet access and ambulances were set up in the cable car stations. The cable cars shorten travel times to the next metro station considerably and the poor areas have been "opened" and upgraded.

In many cities and megacities with a correspondingly high demand for transport, local transport services are also offered by private companies (some of the informal sector) without any state influence, which do not require public subsidies (see also demand-oriented public transport ).

Economic and ecological importance

Two important advantages of public transport in comparison to private motorized transport are its higher capacity and the lower space consumption. In cities with well-developed public transport, the proportion of journeys made by motor vehicle can be less than 50%. In Vienna , for example, 65% of journeys are made either by public transport, by bike or on foot. While the average occupancy of a car is only 1.3 people (26%) and the average usage time of a car is one hour per day, subways and trams are in use for up to 20 hours a day. The occupancy rate averages around 30% during the entire operating time and is thus higher than with the MIT. The specific energy consumption and the specific pollutant emissions per passenger are significantly lower than with motorized vehicles. A well-occupied bus only causes around 10–25% of the greenhouse gas emissions of a well-occupied car per passenger and, on top of that, takes up considerably less road space. In addition, in the case of motorized traffic there is the land consumption for stationary traffic (parking), which is very high and is often not taken into account in comparative considerations. (quoting there)

From an economic point of view, the mobility of residents in “auto cities” (based on the American model) is roughly twice as expensive as in cities with well-developed local public transport.

In the Alps there are various places that are " car-free " and can only be reached by public transport. Prominent representatives in Switzerland are Wengen in the Bernese Oberland and Zermatt in the canton of Valais .

Operating standards

The attractiveness and quality of the transport offer is closely linked to the service standard. This is the sum of the characteristics of a traffic service by local public transport. These characteristics include development and connection qualities as well as connection frequencies and vehicle comfort. A high standard of service is characterized by frequent journeys with modern vehicles as well as short waiting and transfer times at attractive stops (→ connection point ).

Cultural significance


Some public transport facilities have the status of tourist attractions due to their technical characteristics. In Germany, the Wuppertal suspension railway should first and foremost be mentioned here. At its western terminus on Rubensstraße there is a stop for the Solingen trolleybus , which goes from there to the Solingen Mitte train station, among other things . With a change to the Müngstener over the highest railway bridge in Germany, Wuppertal-Oberbarmen is reached via Remscheid . Opposite is the eastern end of the suspension railway. In addition to the Stuttgart Zacke as the only cogwheel railway in everyday operation, other interesting systems include the Dresden mountain railways , the Dortmund H-Bahn , the SkyTrain at Düsseldorf Airport , the light rail arches and viaducts of the Berlin S-Bahn and U-Bahn or the convertible offered by the local transport company BVG -Rides in the open subway. In this city there is also a special ferry , a different compound crosses the Wannsee. The Schmöckwitz – Grünauer Uferbahn is close to the water on the outskirts of the capital. Furthermore, the Hamburg subway at the port there ( St. Pauli-Landungsbrücken ) is noteworthy. Here you can also take a small tour at the network rate . The various funicular and cable cars are recommended . In addition, the Berlin double-decker buses and the four island railways on Borkum , Langeoog , Spiekeroog (here as a museum horse-drawn train , as well as in Döbeln ) and Wangerooge are very attractive to tourists. In the then cultural capital of Essen , there is still a tram line with a corresponding focus on information. In addition, there are a number of scenic sections such as the Rhine Valley routes between Mainz or Wiesbaden and Koblenz, the Black Forest Railway, a North Sea crossing on the Hindenburgdamm to Sylt or the like over the Rügen dam in the Baltic Sea or in the Odenwald ; Many museum and narrow-gauge railways are also worthwhile (e.g. Sauschwänzlebahn , Öchsle or Harzquer and Brockenbahn ). In the Bavarian Alps, the Kehlsteinhaus near Berchtesgaden can only be reached by road using a regular bus service. Comparable is the Wendelstein line , which is on a bus circuit in the area of the mountain of the same name . The Ausserfernbahn runs through a spectacular landscape from Kempten (Allgäu) via Reutte in Tyrol to Garmisch-Partenkirchen , where there is a connection to the Mittenwaldbahn or to the Zugspitze .

Railways or the tram are displayed in various museums .

Last but not least, some stations stand out from an architectural point of view, for example at the Hundertwasser station in Uelzen or at some stops on the Munich subway and there are numerous examples of their use as a cultural station .


Art in the Volkstheater station (mosaic glass frieze by Anton Lehmden ) of the Vienna subway

In Vienna , the former Viennese steam light rail with the architectural buildings by Otto Wagner should be mentioned, from which the Viennese electric light rail emerged in 1925 . The underground lines U4 and U6 of Wiener Linien and the S45 of ÖBB now run on the former light rail routes . At the Gürtel , the U6 runs along the listed city ​​railway arches . The old stations were also retained after the conversion from the light rail to the underground in the architectural style of Otto Wagner. The Heiligenstädter branch, which used to be used by the tram line G, is now closed. The arches below the U6 are rented to various bars and shops. The above-ground construction of the station, also by the architect Otto Wagner, is still located on the Karlsplatz station, which is on the Wientallinie (today's U4) of the Vienna light rail .

On the U3 line, which is also marketed as the “culture line”, there are numerous artistically designed stations, whereby the Volkstheater station , on which the U2 line is crossed , deserves a special mention with an art painting. During the construction of the Vienna subway, the underground Virgil Chapel was found on Stephansplatz , which can now be seen through a sight glass directly from the upper part of the subway station and is accessible from there.

In Tyrol, the Stubaitalbahn and the Innsbrucker Mittelgebirgsbahn are particularly well-known beyond the region due to the excursion areas they open up.


Cable car in San Francisco

International public transport offers known as tourist attractions include the Vaporetti in Venice , the Routemaster double-decker in London, the numerous shipping lines on the Bosphorus to connect the various districts and suburbs of Istanbul , the cable cars in San Francisco , the tram in Lisbon , the stations of the Moscow Metro or the Kusttram on the Belgian North Sea coast. Likewise can Luftseilbahnen part of the urban public transport (see in this cable cars in public transport ).


For people who rarely use public transport, timetables or unknown departure times and difficult-to-use ticket machines can represent inhibitions when switching from car to public transport. Since the minimum distances to other users can only be guaranteed to a very limited extent on public transport, the feared risk of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic led to the introduction of a nationwide obligation to wear protective masks on public transport and to the switch of many users of local public transport to private transport . In the case of colds, a study published in 2011 by the University of Nottingham (Great Britain) found an almost six times higher risk of infection on buses and trains than in private transport.

Legal bases and forms of offer

European law

At the European level, the financing of local public transport is regulated in Regulation (EU) No. 1370/2007 of October 23, 2007. The adoption of this regulation was preceded by a lengthy development and discussion, especially in those member states in which public transport is largely provided by municipal or state-owned companies, such as Germany and Austria. At European level, Council Regulation (EEC) 1191/69 of June 26, 1969 on the action of the Member States in the field of rail, road and inland waterway transport related to obligations related to the concept of public service regulated the implementation of public transport Local transport. The content and, above all, the legal interpretation of this ordinance were highly controversial in Germany. On October 23, 2007, the new regulation 1370/2007 was adopted, which replaces regulation 1191/69. The new ordinance came into force on December 3, 2009.

The dispute in Germany under the old regulation 1191/69 was mainly about the extent to which the financing of local public transport through public funds that are paid directly and without legal entitlement to certain companies violates that regulation. Excepted - but also quite controversial - were the above-mentioned fare surrogates, since every company providing transport services has a legal claim to this, provided that it can provide evidence of corresponding transport services. Triggered by a dispute over line concessions in the Altmark , the so-called Altmark judgment (case C-280/00) of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) was issued on July 24, 2003 after going through the courts . Accordingly, in principle, public co-financing for the purpose of providing services in the public interest leads to an obligation to tender . According to this, EU Regulation 1191/69 allowed EU member states to exempt public transport from the validity of this regulation. However, the ECJ left the question open as to whether the formulations of the German Passenger Transport Act (PBefG) at the time defined such an exception. Only in this case would public co-financing of the local public transport have been possible without a tender on the basis of four criteria named by the ECJ. These four criteria were:

  • There must be a prior, clear and specific agreement between the financier (i.e. the public transport authority) and the transport company.
  • The cost compensation for services in the public interest must be determined in advance.
  • There must be no overcompensation.
  • The company co-financed in this way must be comparable to an average, well-run company .

There was a dispute between the German federal states as to whether German law includes this exception. With the exception of Hesse , all states saw this exception as a given. Hesse did not see the formulation of the PBefG as sufficient and therefore required the Hessian authorities to tender for publicly co-financed public transport services. In October 2006 the German Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) spoke out in favor of a legally secure exception to the PBefG from Regulation 1191/69 (Az .: 3 C 33/05). In contrast, the Higher Administrative Court in Koblenz did not find any exceptions to the PBefG in a decision of November 2005. The BVerwG's view was also preceded by an earlier decision by the Lüneburg Higher Administrative Court , which had declared the majority position of the federal states to be legal.

In the course of the liberalization of the common European service market, the EU already discussed an amendment to Regulation 1191/69 at the turn of the millennium, which should also clarify the disputes of the previous regulation. A first proposal by the Commission for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on measures of the Member States in connection with requirements of the public service and the award of public service contracts for passenger transport by rail, road and inland waterways from July 26, 2000 , however, came across in European Parliament on resistance. Above all, the compulsory requirement to tender for public funding was criticized. Above all, German and Austrian parliamentarians called for the possibility of local self-production, respectively. direct award to publicly owned transport companies.

In July 2005 the European Commission presented on the basis of previous readings in the parliament a new Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on public passenger transport services by rail and by road of 20 July 2005 (COM (2005) 319) to Discussion. Compared to the older drafts, there was no longer any information on public-interest objectives to be pursued with public transport. However, a so-called in-house award without tenders has now been planned. Such a regulation enables the public transport authorities to provide public transport services in-house or to award them to transport companies in their own possession without a tender. However, these companies are then not allowed to take part in tenders outside the territory of their owner. Another new feature is the waiver of an obligation to tender in regional or long-distance rail transport. The regulations, however, often called for criticism. Unclear - and therefore also criticized by the VDV - was the delimitation of the new ordinance from general procurement law .

The new regulation 1370/2007 was finally passed with not too many modifications to the third regulation proposal in 2007; it came into force on December 3, 2009. However, the regulation contains generous transitional regulations, which became after the adoption that the requirements are kept particularly broad and indefinite. This makes it difficult for the transport companies concerned to adapt to the new regulatory framework in a legally secure manner. In Germany, it was initially problematic that the PBefG and the AEG were only brought into line with the ordinance with a considerable delay. The new regulation was therefore directly applicable, which meant that frictional conflicts and inconsistencies between the national regulations and the regulation could not be ruled out. The German PBefG was finally adapted to the EU regulation 1370/2007 in 2013.


The legal basis for local public transport (ÖPNV) in Germany is the law for the regionalization of the local public transport regionalization law (RegG) , in which the "ensuring sufficient service of the population with transport services in local public transport is described as a task of general interest ", and the Local traffic laws of the countries .

In the sense of the Regionalization Act, “local public transport is the generally accessible transport of people by means of public transport, which are primarily intended to meet the demand for urban , suburban or regional transport . In case of doubt, this is the case if, in the majority of cases of transport by a means of transport, the total travel distance does not exceed 50 kilometers or the total travel time does not exceed one hour. "

According to § 5 RegG, all 16 federal states have received a total of 8 billion euros per year since 2016 until 2031, with the total increasing by 1.8% per year.

Local public transport in Germany is legally divided into

  • local rail passenger transport (SPNV) and
  • local road passenger transport (ÖSPV) - also known as city transport or regional transport.

Local rail passenger transport (SPNV)

The legal basis for local rail passenger transport in the railway sector in Germany is the General Railway Act (AEG) . The Federal Railway Authority (EBA) is the supervisory and licensing authority for domestic railway infrastructure companies that are mainly owned by the federal government and for domestic German railway companies that are mainly owned by the federal government and foreign railway companies operating in Germany, the Federal Railway Authority (EBA) , otherwise the states.

Local road transport (ÖSPV)

Call collective taxi in Vienna

The legal basis specifically for local road transport in Germany is the Passenger Transport Act (PBefG) , which applies to the "paid or business-like transport of people by trams, trolleybuses and motor vehicles".

According to the Passenger Transport Act, regular services are subject to approval. In Germany, the district governments or the state administrative offices are usually responsible.

Local road transport refers to the services and facilities of district or city-owned and also private transport companies that use different means of transport for this purpose. These are trams , bus routes ( city ​​buses , regional buses ), local bus routes and special forms of public transport (dial-a-bus, collective call taxes, etc.), and in large cities often also subways or light rail vehicles . The trolleybus is less common in Germany, but it is widespread in other countries such as Switzerland and Eastern Europe. Local road transport also includes "exotic" ones such as the Wuppertal suspension railway , the H-Bahn in Dortmund or the SkyTrain at Düsseldorf Airport . In addition, there are special forms of local road transport , especially in less densely populated areas . Taxis are only counted as public transport if they take on the tasks and functions of public transport, replace or supplement it ( Section 8 (2) PBefG), for example as a collective taxi . As a rule, they are approved as a special form of occasional traffic in accordance with Section 46 PBefG.

Transport authority

A public transport authority is an authority named by the federal states that is responsible for an adequate supply of public transport services. The regionalization law and the respective state laws assign responsibility for public transport to the public transport authorities as a service of general interest .

Are responsible

The Federal Working Group for Local Rail Passenger Transport (BAG-SPNV) is the working group of the regional rail transport authorities in Germany and represents the interests of the 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. The authorities responsible for local road transport have so far only worked informally under the umbrella of the municipal umbrella organizations in a joint BAG.

Most of the authorities involved in local rail and local public transport are also organized in transport associations, transport associations, tariff associations or collective bargaining associations in which all modes of transport can be used with one ticket . As a rule, these are special-purpose associations to which the public transport authorities have assigned certain administrative tasks, such as the preparation of local transport plans in addition to tariff coordination . The legal basis is the relevant local traffic laws of the federal states, some of which have already legally stipulated the mergers, such as in Hesse. Other federal states leave the formation of transport associations to the voluntary association of transport authorities. Services and payments in passenger transport are often regulated in a transport contract.


legal form

The operation of the local public transport is mostly carried out by transport companies in a private legal form that are state, municipal or private owned. The pressure to reduce subsidies has in recent years in many cases to convert municipal Eigenbetriebe out in private law, but still present in municipal-owned enterprises. Real in-house companies therefore only provide public transport services in a few municipalities. Transport companies in a private legal form are either commissioned directly or selected through a tender if public co-financing is required to provide the public transport service deemed necessary by the public transport authorities . The form of the commissioning is now based on the new regulation 1370/2007. This eliminates disputes that arose with the earlier controversial distinction between “commercial” and “public” transport services, which is still anchored in the law in § 13 and § 13a PBefG.

For transport services that are provided without public co-financing of the responsible body or owner and are therefore in any case "self-economic" in accordance with the PBefG, only the approval (liner license) by the licensing authority was required before Regulation 1370/2007 came into force. It is now legally controversial whether the new regulation 1370/2007 also requires the granting of licenses. Companies also receive such a concession for the co-financed lines. It also protects the company from competing offers. If several companies apply for such a license, the company with the “best offer” will receive the approval (see approval competition ). The criteria for the “best offer”, however, are primarily the number of trips and the tariff. The license applied for must also be in line with the local transport plan. A license is granted for a fixed term, usually eight years for bus services. No other company can apply for the concession during this time.

Means of transport

The means of transport in public transport operate according to a timetable , in cities and metropolitan areas usually according to a regular timetable . In rural areas, timetables are often based on working and school hours and are therefore rather irregular. Especially in cities in developing countries, where there are often no local public transport companies, public transport is handled by regular taxis . In general (in developed countries) a license is required, which is granted by the licensing authority in accordance with the requirements of the local transport plan drawn up by the transport authority.

The scheduled ships in the Port of Hamburg or Venice are also part of the public transport system. In addition to public transport, ferries , harbor ferries , public bicycles , ship lines on rivers, cable cars and suspension railways , inclined lifts , public passenger lifts (e.g. Schlossberglift in Graz ) and others. counted.

In addition to the regular services , there are various demand responsive transport in scheduled services . For this, z. Different names are currently used: Dial-a-Call Bus, Call Line Trip (ALF), Call Line Taxi (ALT), Line Requirement Taxi (LBT), Line Taxi, Call Collective Taxi (AST) or a somewhat imprecise taxi bus. These are needs-based offers that only run on request. Also, volunteer -driven citizen buses included.

Conditions of carriage and tariff regulations
Costs for regular monthly tickets and social tickets in public transport in some German cities, 2020. Source: Infrastructure Atlas 2020

In local public transport, the conditions of carriage regulate the interaction between transport companies and passengers , their respective rights and obligations as well as the options for using public transport. The tariff regulations are a set of rules in local public transport in which the fares and the conditions of use of the tickets are specified. They apply to the transport of people as well as to the transport of objects and animals . Conditions of carriage and tariff regulations apply together. They are determined either by the transport company or by the responsible authority (e.g. transport association ).

There are also fee and tax financed offers. In Hasselt (Belgium) , Châteauroux (France), Lübben and Templin, for example, local public transport is financed through taxes, emissions taxes or car parking fees. The same applies to systems of public bicycles , which are provided on behalf of the city at an annual flat rate in connection with public transport services that are subject to a fee. This model can also be found in partial application for individual user groups such as students ( semester ticket ) and tourists ( guest card ). These pay the fare income through their semester fees or visitor's tax .

The social ticket , that is, subsidized monthly tickets for low-income groups of the population, which is intended to increase their mobility and improve the utilization of local transport, is also playing an increasingly important role in Germany .

In order to increase the level of use of public transport, various parties have been calling for the introduction of free public transport for decades. A prominent example of the implementation of this approach is the Estonian capital Tallinn . As a result of a referendum , since the beginning of 2013 registered residents who are in possession of an electronic ticket have been able to use public transport buses and trains free of charge.

In Luxembourg , all national public transport has been free for all users since March 1, 2020 . The goals are to promote the traffic turnaround and to create incentives for people to switch from cars to public transport.


In Austria , public passenger transport  is regulated nationwide in the Public Local and Regional Transport Act 1999 (ÖPNRV-G); the Motor Vehicle Act is the legal basis for local road transport. Local and regional transport is the responsibility of the federal states , cities and municipalities .


Swiss law ( Passenger Transport Act ) divides public transport into the following categories:

  • Long-distance transport that connects parts of the country and regions
  • Regional traffic , which serves the basic development of the regions
  • Local traffic that perceives the fine development in the local area
  • Excursion traffic that has no development function for all year round inhabited places

In Switzerland, the term local transport is rarely used and mostly only in studies and dissertations or as a synonym for local transport.



In Germany, the fares charged in local public transport, including taxis, are generally subject to sales tax for distances of up to 50 km at the reduced sales tax rate of 7% in accordance with Section 12 (2) No. 10 UStG .

Public transport in rural areas, bus stop in Trollebüll (North Friesland)


In Austria, all passenger transport by means of transport of all kinds is generally subject to the reduced sales tax rate of 10%. Cross-border transport by ship and aircraft is exempt from sales tax, with the exception of passenger transport on Lake Constance . The special sales tax rate of 13% applies to the domestic transport of people by aircraft.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein

In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, public transport is taxed at the normal VAT rate of 7.7%.

Global system costs

The term global system costs includes all costs that are incurred up to commissioning, including reorganization of the traffic area along the route "from facade to facade" including newly created park-and-ride facilities, procurement costs for vehicles and costs for the laying of lines including appropriate urban integration.

The Research Association for Roads and Transportation states:

Estimated average system
costs per kilometer of the route (proportional costs for a depot facility or special structures are not included)
Global system costs for a tram on its own route
Routes in city centers 12-18 million euros
per kilometer
Routes (extensions) in grown urban areas outside the inner cities 12 million euros
per kilometer of the route
Routes in new development areas on cleared routes or through undeveloped terrain 6.5 million euros
per kilometer of the route
Assumption value for an inner-city diameter line and ideal-typical requirements 16 million euros
per kilometer of the route
Global system costs for a large-capacity bus on its own route
Routes in city centers 5–10 million euros
per kilometer
Routes (extensions) in grown urban spaces outside the city centers 4 million euros
per kilometer of the route
Routes in new development areas on cleared routes or through undeveloped terrain 2.5 million euros
per kilometer of the route
Assumption value for an inner-city diameter line and ideal-typical requirements 8.5 million euros
per kilometer of the route

According to Monheim et al. The investment costs for a cable car in the city would be lower than for a cable car used for tourism up a mountain, since the construction sites are usually easier to reach. This is how he estimates the cost of a monocable gondola lift in urban areas, with cabins for eight people:

  • Drive station (with gondola garage and drive): 1.5–2 million euros
  • Return station (end station): 1–1.5 million euros
  • Middle station: 2-3 million euros,
  • Pipe supports: 90,000–180,000 euros, (maximum support spacing 300 m)
  • Wire rope for 1,000 m in each direction: 100,000–150,000 euros
  • per vehicle complete: 20,000-25,000 euros

Future development

Business opportunities and problems

The degree of cost recovery for the operating costs of local public transport in Germany was around 60% on average in 2007. This is primarily due to regular customers with season tickets . There are numerous statements made by politicians calling for full cost recovery in local public transport. This puts the public transport providers under pressure to react like private companies and no longer strive to increase transport performance, but only to increase the operating result to be achieved. In addition, it is controversial to what extent state services, such as so-called fare surrogates, i.e. replacement payments for tariffs reduced for social reasons, for example for the transport of schoolchildren and trainees according to § 45a PBefG, or the tax cross-association with profitable municipal utilities, must be taken into account in the cost recovery rate.

Marketing instruments are now being used more and more in public transport in order to acquire more regular customers and in this way to improve the key business figures . Recently, new offers in the field of occasional transport (shopping and leisure) have been developed: shuttle buses at major events, discounted shopping tickets, "spa buses ", special bicycle trains, cooperation with or own offer of car sharing and bike sharing to close the transport chain from door to door, etc. . belong to.

The effects of demographic development on public transport are still open. On the one hand, the number of schoolchildren will decrease significantly in the next few years, on the other hand, there will also be significantly more senior citizens in absolute terms, but who may use a car much more often than before. According to Hans-Heinrich Bass from the Institute for Transport and Development at the University of Bremen, the future development of the demand for local public transport services will depend primarily on three factors: settlement geographic factors, socio-demographic factors and changing values ​​in society.

Seniors and schoolchildren are currently two of the most important customer groups in rural areas, so local public transport there will be dependent on tapping new customer groups.

The effects of rising petrol prices in the context of the scarcity of oil production are also open, but clear effects on private transport are to be expected here.

Some of the privatization measures required by European legal norms , such as the separation of network and operation in rail transport and the increasing (also Europe-wide) tendering of transport services with a strict catalog of requirements, partly contribute to improving cost recovery in local public transport. They also improve the transparency of the financing of public transport services. The transport services are then provided by the transport companies either with their own vehicles or with vehicles of the carrier leased via vehicle management companies. Maintenance contracts are part of vehicle procurement; the entire heavy maintenance is then often carried out by the vehicle manufacturer. The order contracts provide for contractual penalties against the manufacturer or operator if availability standards (punctuality, capacity, vehicle condition) are not met. Bonus-malus regulations are often agreed for good and bad performance . Often, separate employment companies are set up in order to circumvent the collective bargaining regulations of the industry and to keep the wage costs of the drivers, among others, low.

Technical development


The entrances from stops in a vehicle are set up in the new, standardized systems without steps, ramps, thresholds or wide gaps. It is easy and barrier-free for people with disabilities or with prams , handcarts and wheeled suitcases and other luggage, walking aids , sack carts , inline skates to drive on or enter . (See Barrier-free building # target groups and their requirements as well as free transport for the severely disabled).

In comparison, accidents occur again and again where people in rail vehicles fall into the gap between the vehicle and the platform, inexperienced wheelchair users have problems with them and have to be warned of the dangers. Such wide gaps usually occur when the platform is on a curve.

In the case of other barriers, such as those affecting deaf or blind people, various measures and projects have been actively taken in recent years to counteract them. In 2016, for example, the aim4it app was tested in Wiener Linien. This offers auditive traffic reports for people with poor eyesight as well as reports in Austrian sign language for deaf people, signed by the avatar SiMAX.

The ban on transporting e-scooters has been lifted under certain conditions since 2017 .

Information technology, electronic ticketing

According to the ideas of the transport planners, local public transport will be strongly characterized by networked information technology in the near future. Even in the timetable information via train destination displays , the Internet or mobile devices ( WAP or similar), dynamic data about the operating status of the network are included, so that the (potential) passenger can receive a valid and optimal transport offer with price information with relatively little effort and accurate to the minute is informed about when his train or bus is leaving or arriving. The information offered can also take over the calling of AST or on-call bus services directly online. On the other hand, there will be problems with the acceptance of passengers who want information from a person.

Since December 1, 2019 , regulation 1926/2017 has made it mandatory in the EU to publish timetable data that is already available in a machine-readable format (see GTFS ). The VBB was the first transport association in Germany to start this in 2012 . In the meantime, other transport associations have been added, but many are still missing in Germany. The number of timetable data available as OpenData is growing worldwide. The provision of machine-readable timetable data under an open license is seen as a prerequisite for the development of nationally usable timetable information and apps for special applications.

The fare collection can also be cashless and contact-free, z. B. via mobile phone ticket , also via transponder cards , which either work according to the principle of the prepaid card (" pre-paid card ") or are valid as a prepaid season ticket . Since the transponder records the entry and exit of the passenger, the cheapest tariff should always be calculated. All data would be recorded directly at the operations center and can be used there for capacity calculation and supply planning. This is countered by the fears of data protectionists who see the electronic registration of passengers as a further step in the direction of “transparent people”. There are also voices who criticize the massive video surveillance for security purposes .

The monthly pass equipped with a chip will become a reality in the Rhein-Ruhr transport association and in the Rhein-Sieg transport association , among others . An example of this is the OV-chipkaart, which is valid throughout the Netherlands . Originally, it was planned to have transponder cards that work automatically after the chip card , which can currently only be read with special devices . Such a procedure without the active involvement of the passenger to register and de-register his journey was tested by the Fraunhofer Institute for Transport and Infrastructure Systems (IVI) in Dresden. However, it will not be used there for the foreseeable future either: Obstacles are technical, but above all of a data protection nature. The credit transponder card introduced by the Marburger Stadtwerke in 1996 as a pilot project of the RMV was discontinued on July 31, 2005 due to obsolescence of the technology.

Information technology also allows vehicle-side recording options, such as electronic passenger counting . In some rail vehicles, a load measurement is carried out by transferring the measurement of the spring deflection of the change in weight of the wagon.

Vehicles and stops

Simplon station in the Paris Métro

The access points are to be adapted to the low-floor vehicles that are now mostly used outside of the underground and light rail networks , completely barrier-free and handicapped accessible , centrally monitored by video , and equipped with information terminals and emergency call facilities. While this is often the case in Germany, at least in the municipal rail networks, in Switzerland one is lagging behind. The Disability Equality Act (BehiG) introduced in 2004 requires the use of handicapped accessible and barrier-free stops. However, public transport providers are granted a transition period of twenty years. This means that by 2024 public transport must be handicapped accessible. New vehicles and new stops must already be handicapped accessible. Any structure that could cause fear of space or attract vandals , such as B. elevator shafts should be designed and built as “transparently” as possible (keyword: subjective safety ). Uniform, possibly color-coded signposting systems are intended to provide an overview. The different types of transport should be closely networked using combined platforms and similar systems.

The vehicles themselves would be video-monitored and built largely vandal-proof . Route plan, stop sequence , time, information, advertising, etc. can be imported via displays ( passenger information system ). Vehicles in as many different vessel sizes as possible are already being used to adjust capacity (on the road: microbus, minibus, midibus , solo bus , articulated bus , double articulated bus, trailer train, double-decker bus; on rail: traction- capable articulated multiple units in different lengths). Most of the underground trains run fully automatically and unmanned. All vehicles have a uniform corporate identity , even if they are provided by different transport companies. The mode of transport of the future will therefore employ far fewer operating and maintenance personnel in the future .

Urban cable car in Medellín as part of the Metro de Medellín

Cable cars as inner-city means of transport

Cable cars are considered to be particularly energy-efficient, electricity-driven means of transport (see also energy efficiency of cable cars ) with low pollutant emissions. They are inexpensive and comparatively quick to set up and, due to their automatic operation, require relatively few personnel. However, the establishment of such a connection in Wuppertal was rejected in a public survey in May 2019 . Mi Teleférico is famous in La Paz .


In 2017, local public transport in Germany sold around 11.4 billion passengers. The average distance traveled was 9.6 kilometers per person carried.

See also

Wiktionary: public transport  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Portal: Bahn  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of trains


  • Hans-Heinrich Bass : Urban passenger transport systems in Germany, 2010–2050. Determinants and options , in: Hans-Heinrich Bass, Christine Biehler and Ly Huy Tuan (eds.): On the way to sustainable urban transport systems , Rainer-Hampp-Verlag, Munich and Mering 2011, ISBN 978-3-86618-639- 2 (print), ISBN 978-3-86618-739-9 (e-book), pp. 62-93
  • Benjamin Linke: Ensuring the service of general interest in local public transport . Baden-Baden 2010, ISBN 978-3-8329-5502-1
  • Astrid Karl: Public transport in the guarantee state. Public transport between regulation and competition . Edition Sigma , Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-89404-251-6
  • Sibylle Barth: Local transport is the municipal responsibility: local public transport after regionalization . Bielefeld 2000 (series of publications for traffic and technology; Vol. 90) ISBN 978-3-503-05731-3
  • Volker Eichmann, Felix Berschin, Tilman Bracher, Matthias Winter: Environmentally friendly, attractive and efficient public transport - a manual . Difu work aids , Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-88118-395-7
  • Hans-Liudger Dienel , Barbara Schmucki (ed.): Mobility for everyone, history of local public transport in the city between technical progress and social duty . Franz Steiner Verlag Stuttgart, 1997, ISBN 3-515-06892-9 , limited preview in Google book search


Web links

Wiktionary: ÖPNV  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Local public transport  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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