Study: Many commuters are leaving the automobile at home
DRIVING TO WORK: A MODEL ON ITS WAY OUT?
Mit dem Auto zur Arbeit: ein Auslaufmodell?
by Benjamin Cordes, Beke Schulmann and Katja Reichmann
Every third German would do without his/her car. The demand for alternative transportation options increasing.
HAMBURG – Minute-long reports of stalled traffic on the radio, never-ending traffic jams on the way to work – that’s the daily fate of the commuter in the metropolitan region of Hamburg. And that’s the way it’s likely to stay. “Every five years the number of automobiles [on the road] in Hamburg increases by around 10%, while the commercial truck traffic increases close to 25% every three years,” says Matthias Schmitting from the automobile club ADAC.
In light of the numbers many drivers begin to think about getting rid of their automobile, or at least leaving it at home, as shown in our survey. This is confirmed by a representative study by the car rental company Europcar. According to their study about every third German could imagine getting rid of his/her car in the near future, almost twice as many as last year.
The study’s results, however, are statistically only partially true for Hamburg. The number of new vehicle registrations (Neuzulassung) for 2007, around 150,000, was only slightly higher than those in 2008. In this regard the car-scrap bonus, cash for clunkers (Abwrackpraemie,) provided a bit of an incentive [for new registrations.] Also the 711,450 personal vehicles on Hamburg’s streets are only a few hundred fewer than last year. According to ADAC spokesperson Schmitting, insuffient (mangelhaft) infrastructure is to blame for this fact. An example is the P+R facilities (P+R-Anlagen,) where commuters can transfer from their car to public transportation, says Schmitting. In the latest test only a third of the facilities received good reviews. The rest were devalued due to their design or other shortcomings (Mangel -ae).
Moving away from the current associated costs of driving
At the same time the transportation alternatives in Hamburg are increasing: the HVV reports increasing ridership for the last few years despite rising fares. Yearly about 638 million passengers use HVV. The reason for the transfer to public transit is mostly the cost of gas, according to the government Office for Statistics in their report on the price index of driving. The switch is also driven by the cost of purchasing a vehicle along with insurance prices.
The StadtRad, which first debuted in July, appears to have developed into a success model. The bikes are currently being used by 25.000 registered users for so far about 150,000 trips. People dressed in office clothes with briefcases on the rear carrying racks are now part of the city-scape. The City Development and Environment Authority want to further increase the modal share of cyclists (Radverkehrsanteil) to at least 18%. There is obviously a lot to do until then: Dirk Lau from the board of directors at the bicycle club ADFC is advocating the Senate for a noticeably (deutlich) quicker (expedited) implementation of the Bicycle Strategy (Radverkehrsstrategie.) He is especially critical that only 20 kilometers out of a total of 1700 kilometers of bike path are on the street. 25 million Euros are expected in 2009 and 2010 for the expansion of the bike lanes.
An alternative for those who would like to continue driving without having to own a car is Car-Sharing. Such companies in Hamburg are reporting a clear (deutlich) increase in users. It is reported that at one of the companies the number of customers since 2008 has tripled to about 1500.