Lower Austria wants better train service to Vienna.
The Lower Austrian government has appealed to the Viennese coalition to make the city’s park & ride facilities a more attractive option for commuters.
Karl Wilfing of the People’s Party (ÖVP) said parking fees at multi-storey car parks in Vienna-Penzing and Donaustadt district should drop to encourage more people to switch to public transport at the city’s outskirts. Around 500,000 Austrians travel to Vienna for work each day. Most of them do so by car despite a wide range of public transport incentives by federal and regional lawmakers.
Wilfing said another aspect must be shorter S-Bahn train intervals. The ÖVP official said he was convinced that more people would use means of public transport if they operated more often during rush hour. S-Bahn services connect several towns and cities in Lower Austria with Vienna’s biggest stations. Many people who do not live but work in Vienna are getting to the office this way, but traffic analysts see an enormous potential for higher passenger figures if the service quality improves.
The Lower Austrian government now plans to get in touch with Vienna’s Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou of the Green Party to check the potential for investments into S-Bahn connections. The Viennese coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and Greens have identified public transport as one of the most important agenda points for the current legislature.
SPÖ and Greens said after forming a coalition in 2010 that they wanted to increase the share of public transport in Vienna from 35 per cent in 2009 to 40 per cent until 2015. Walking claimed a share of 27 per cent in 2009, down by one per cent from its stake in 1993. The number of people who prefers to walk to cover also long distances in the city is on the rise again, according to the Austrian Traffic Club.
The share cyclists took in the overall traffic volume doubled to six per cent between 1993 and 2009. Only a few weeks ago, the city government said that more people than ever before were cycling in Vienna these days. Around 11,000 people cycled a day in 2011, 20 per cent more than in 2010. Especially the number of people opting for bikes in winter despite snow and ice is soaring, according to Martin Blum, the city’s cycling ambassador.
Around 50 per cent of Viennese households own at least one bicycle. Around 480,000 bikes were sold in Austria last year. Studies show that 30,000 of all sold bicycles were electric bikes (e-bikes). Only 20,000 e-bikes were purchased by Austrians in 2010. Their share in overall bike sales is expected to improve further despite plans to abandon the generous subsidisation of sales.
Meanwhile, the number of Viennese car owners might decline. Around six in 10 households in the city – which was 1.7 million residents – own at least one vehicle. Constant fuel price increases, more attractive public transport opportunities and rising parking charges could tempt many citizens of Vienna to give up their cars. Half of all the distances Austrians cover by car are no longer than five kilometres (km), according to VCÖ.