In Carinthia and Burgenland, seven in ten people do not have access to adequate public transport. This means that two federal states in Austria are at the bottom of the list. This was the result of a study conducted by the Momentum Institute on the occasion of World Sustainable Transport Day, which was celebrated for the first time on Sunday 26 November. But the outcome in Austria as a whole is not so bright either: According to Momentum, one in every two people has insufficient access to public transport.

This also fits with the results of a study by the Austrian Transport Club (VCÖ), which recently organized an expert event under the slogan “Better mobility for regions” and presented the latest findings. In a region with low population density, half of Austrians do not use public transport at all, according to analysis based on data from the Austrian Statistical Institute. “The lower the population density, the less public transportation is used and the higher the vehicle usage. In many areas the population has very limited mobility options. “This does not have to be the case, as the solutions already implemented show,” said VCÖ expert Lina Mosshammer at the expert conference.

The fact that demand increases along with supply is also reflected in the Momentum assessment: In Vienna, only one percent of the population has insufficient access to public transport. Vorarlberg ranks second with 31 percent. VCÖ spokesman Christian Gratzer says the prospective expansion of the public transport network can explain why the westernmost federal state is doing so well: “They started to expand public transport in Vorarlberg very early. There have also been many developments in Carinthia and Burgenland in the last decade. But there is still a lot to be done in both federal states.”

The most important thing is to coordinate bus and train schedules well. Particularly in the regions, Gratzer says that micro public transport such as call taxis or public buses should be gradually expanded and optimally adapted to the existing route network.

High investments in roads

Economist Barbara Schuster from the Momentum Institute sees a problem with expanding infrastructure: “Although it is clear that the expansion of public transport due to climate policy is a central element for climate protection, there are still areas that are underground. Between 1997 and 2022, 690 kilometers of railway lines have been dismantled,” he said. This is not surprising when we consider that the roads were widened by 347 kilometers.According to the Momentum Institute, 38 million euros were invested in widening the roads in Carinthia, while only half a million euros were spent on the expansion of the railway network.

Far more investment is being made in road expansion than in the rail network, according to an analysis by the Momentum Institute

© OTS/Momentum Institute

Expansion attack

Carinthia State Mobility Council Member Sebastian Schuschnig (ÖVP) is aware of the problem. For years, the expansion of public transport in Carinthia has been criminally neglected and cut corners even under a green state council, criticizing its predecessors and the “mass of mess” they left behind. Schuschnig says that a “turnaround” has now begun: “In the last five years alone, transport offers have increased by up to a quarter. We have launched a nationwide catch-up course, which will now pick up steam again. That’s why we’re investing another $100 million in public transportation expansion this legislative session and launching a push to expand micropublic transportation. “Every euro we invest in public transport is also invested in the business location.”

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