This article examines changes in transport and land-use policies in Germany over the last 40 years that have encouraged more walking, bicycling and public transport use. It focuses on a case study of policy changes in the city of Freiburg, where over the last three decades, the number of bicycle trips tripled, public transport ridership doubled, and the share of trips by automobile declined from 38% to 32%. Since 1990, motorization rates have leveled-off and per-capita CO2 emissions from transport have fallen—despite strong economic growth. The analysis identifies policies that are transferable to car-oriented countries around the world.
Over the past two decades, Germany has improved the quality of its public transport services and attracted more passengers while increasing productivity, reducing costs, and cutting subsidies. Public transport systems reduced their costs through organizational restructuring and outsourcing to newly founded subsidiaries; cutting employee benefits and freezing salaries; increasing work hours, using part-time employees, expanding job tasks, and encouraging retirement of older employees; cooperation with other agencies to share employees, vehicles, and facilities; cutting underutilized routes and services; and buying new vehicles with lower maintenance costs and greater passenger capacity per driver. Revenues were increased through fare hikes for single tickets while maintaining deep discounts for monthly, semester, and annual tickets; and raising passenger volumes by improved quality of service, and full regional coordination of timetables, fares, and services. Those efforts by…