Diversity and Participation
Being mobile is more than simply getting from one place to another. We spend a large part of our lives on the go. Yet, the experiences individuals make are vastly different. Depending on which mode of transport we choose, but also depending on our age, origin, gender, or potential limitations of physical or financial capacities, we experience mobility in very different ways. Car owners are privileged in their mode of transportation, which goes on the backs of other transport users, who are limited in their mobility and subjected to potential dangers. Cities are designed for car mobility. Accordingly, city space is unequally distributed, with parking spaces being offered for free, or at very low fees, in many cities. Public transport, bikers and pedestrians have to share the remaining space, which is frequently not protected sufficiently from car traffic. Certain groups of society are particularly affected by this: children, women, families, people with disabilities or individuals lacking financial resources are restricted in their mobility and hampered in their access to social life. Luckily, many places are in the process of correcting these mistakes of the past, and the pandemic has reinforced this trend. How can we contribute to accelerating the transformation process? How can groups who have been put at a disadvantage in the past be considered in and made part of new processes of planning and designing mobility, so that their needs and concerns are taken into account from the very beginning? Which particular potential is there for implementing this process in public transit, which is predominantly designed by men, but used mainly by women?
Culture, Philosophy and Art
Mobility as we know it has been centered around the automobile and its requirements for decades. Even though it is getting clearer by the day that motorized personal mobility will fail in the long run, as both natural ressources and physical space are limited, cars have become deeply entrenched in our imaginations as symbols of freedom, individuality, progress and status. They are part of our day to day life and of our culture, and imagining a world without them seems impossible to most of us. Although there is an increasing number of positive examples for successful transformation processes, we know we will face many challenges and confrontations on our way there. How can we initiate a change in our culture and implement the transformation of transportation in the heads of people, as well as their hearts? How can we proceed when the resistance and prejudices against the transportation transformation are not rational at all? How can we make public transport a part of a lively mobility culture? Could it help to frame well functioning, well developed public transport as a general service, to which all members of society have access? What can we learn by looking at cycling, which has gained ground in many areas?
Public Transport Policy and Implementation
There is little dispute among politicians about the need for a transformation of transportation. Yet, when it comes to establishing what transportation transformation means and how it should be implemented, political consens soon reaches its limits. Decision making processes are long and complicated, yet the final decisions lack consequence and an integrated approach. Bringing projects on the way which make public transit and mulitmodal mobility more attractive is easier than imposing measures on the automotive sector by limiting the funds invested in road design and cutting the privileges of car traffic. We need more areas in cities where cars have limited or no access, as well as limited parking spaces and parking fees of appropriate height. Planning processes don't take a lot of time for political reasons alone. How can political processes of decision making and their implementation at the planning level be enhanced to make them quicker and more consequent in nature? Which strategies can contribute to accelerating the transformation of transportation? Where can we find successful examples? How could lively, car-free cities or city centers look like? How can climate friendly mobility become easily accessible and successful in rural areas? How can citizens, businesses, politicians and administration collaborate more efficiently? Which role can initiatives and associations play in these processes?
In its current form, transportation has significant impacts on our environment. The aim of combating climate crisis, which has become a serious threat to life as we know it, is a major reason for implementing a comprehensive mobility transformation. As of now, the transportation sector is one of the biggest emitters both in Germany and in all of Europe, causing 20% of Germany's CO2 emissions and nearly 30% of the EU's CO2-emissions. Since 1990, there has been no reduction of emissions in the transportation sector, on the contrary: at times, emissions have even increased. Motorized transport is responsible for 94% of these emissions. In order to reduce the CO2-emissions and further greenhouse gases caused by the transportation sector, vehicle drivers must switch to modes of green transportation, namely a combination of walking, cycling and using public transport. How can we design public transport in a fashion that makes the most of its envitonmental benefits and ensures it forms an effective synergy with cycling and walking? Which previous experiences can we draw on? What can new drive technologies for buses contribute? How can transforming transportation change our city-scapes, assigning spaces previously taken up by streets and parking lots new functions and thereby making our cities more livable? Which further effects on the environment does the transportation transformation need to take into account?
New Sources of Financing
In 2018, the German Federal Government suggested a model project, aimed at implementing free public transport in five cities. The ensuing discussion has shown that in many german towns, public transport networks have reached the limit of their capacities: the system simply cannot cater to the number of passengers necessary to enable a comprehensive transformation of mobility. The German Federal Government has been closing railway lines, reducing staff, neglecting infrastructure and delaying investments for too long. Other countries, which had long been dreaming the dream of motorised, individual mobility are facing the same problem. The dream is over. Now we must focus on getting public transport ready for an age of sustainable mobility. The debate about new models of financing has picked up speed, proposing for instance moving away from funding based on ticket revenues towards models of financing based on monthly contributions by citizens and major businesses alike. The Covid-19 crisis has pointed out the deficiencies/weaknesses of financial models based mainly on ticket sales. What are the alternatives? How can other models contribute to a solid financing of the expansion, operation and maintenance of public transport? How can this make transport the central pillar for the transformation of transportation, and how do we get there? Which additional measures are needed?