Commercial vehicles

    The bus: An underrated component of mobility

    Buses transport more people than streetcars and trains combined – for one tenth of the cost.

    Buses transport more people than streetcars and trains combined – for one tenth of the cost.

    The bus: The most important mode of local public transport

    In terms of local public transport, buses are the most widely used mode of transportation. They are used for 40% of all trips, with streetcars and trains making up the remaining 60%. The great advantage of buses is that they can be implemented economically on routes with low traffic volumes that would not be feasible for a rail service. They are thus often the only means of public transport in rural regions and also offer the most closely knit service network of all three means of public transport in urban areas. The nearest bus stop is on average a six-minute walk away, while to the nearest train stop takes 27 minutes. Furthermore, there are more than 11,300 public bus routes throughout Germany, which is more than twice as many lines as streetcars and trains combined. With this density, the bus often serves as a feeder and sub-distributor of rail-based public transport and in most cases provides the nearest connection for public transport users. Buses are also particularly economical. Although they transport more people than streetcars or trains, they receive only about one tenth of the tax revenue distributed by the public sector to finance the running costs of local public transport.

    The bus is the future of local public transport

    Buses will become increasingly important in local public transport over the coming years, because a decisive future trend in local public transport, especially in cities, is the provision of highly individualized transport services that are as closely tailored as possible and aim to come close to the quality of motorized individual transport. With this "public transport on demand", the local public transport provider creates a suitable route again and again, depending on which journey requests have just been received via the Internet, whereby the waiting time should only be a few minutes and, if possible, aiming for door-to-door transport for each passenger. This is only possible by using minibuses or vans. Such services are already offered in large cities by various mobility service providers and now need to be extended to rural areas.

    Buses are also becoming increasingly environmentally friendly. The percentage of EURO VI buses among the total fleet of public transport companies is growing steadily, and at the same time more and more buses with electric drives are being purchased, contributing to lower pollutant emissions in urban areas.

    Long-distance buses

    Since the liberalization of the long-distance bus market in Germany in 2013, the use of scheduled intercity buses has increased rapidly. The number of passengers has also continued to rise, because many long-distance bus routes serve destinations that would entail transfer when traveling by rail, and usually only at a higher price. For many long-distance travelers, the bus is the only possible mode of transportation because, unlike trains, it is worthwhile for bus companies to include smaller communities in their route network, where only a few people get on and off. This includes numerous cities with 20,000 - 100,000 inhabitants, many small towns with 5,000 to 20,000 inhabitants and even villages and communities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants. Thus, intercity buses are significant for transport policies, as they supplement train travel. Intercity buses are also exemplary in ecological terms. Their high capacity utilization combined with high annual mileage lead to a regular renewal of the bus fleet.

    However, buses are not only suitable for getting someone from A to B quickly and inexpensively. Every year, over 100 million passengers also use them for occasional transport, i.e., for organized vacations, day trips, excursions, and round trips.

    Contact person

    Dr.-Ing. Sascha Pfeifer

    Head of the Transport Policy Division

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