Association of German Transport Companies questions free public transport (Germany)

By Jan Christiaens / Updated: 01 Aug 2014
The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) doubts that offering public transport free of charge would be beneficial. According to VDV, making improvements to service quality and frequency would more likely encourage car drivers to switch to public transport.
VDV calculates that free public transport in German cities would amount to at least €12 billion annually. It claims that this amount would be invested more effectively elsewhere in order to increase the share of urban public transport. Studies and experience across the world demonstrate that shifts from car driving to public transport are more significant if service quality and frequency increase. According to VDV, merely ceasing to charge people using the services leads to a disproportionate increase in public transport use by pedestrians and cyclists, with much less behaviour change among car drivers.

The expected increase in passengers has been calculated at up to 30%. This would result in a lack of vehicles and staff at certain times and certain places. In metropolitan areas, for example, transport operators already now operate close to their capacity limits. VDV warns that providing free public transport in Germany would involve an additional cost of €12 billion per year in investments in equipment, staffing and routes.

VDV president Jürgen Fenske says that calling for fully tax financed public transport was wrong and unfair as urban public transport already faces major financial problems. At the same time, the association does not support the concept that public transport should be financed by the public, including those who use public transport and those who do not, through increased tax.

Source: VDV Press Release (in German)
Collective passenger transport