Economic Policy and Infrastructure

Transportation

In 2014 as well, the car was used in Germany for more than 80 percent of passenger transport. Its transport volume increased to 928.8 billion person kilometers, a rise of 1.2 percent compared to the previous year. The most recent traffic forecast by the German Federal Government – with a time frame out to 2030 – expects that the car will also remain by far the dominant means of transport in the future, with a market share of just under 79 percent.

The road is the number 1 means of transport

In Germany the car represents over 80 percent of passenger traffic, making it the number one means of transport. In upcoming years the car will retain this dominant position in passenger traffic. But passenger traffic in Germany will see only slight growth. By 2030, the German government expects passenger car traffic to increase around 10 percent in comparison with 2010. Such moderate growth is typical of industrial societies whose population is aging and numerically stagnant. Against this backdrop, the increase in passenger car traffic in 2015 of 2.1 percent, to 958 billion person kilometers, is quite high. 

One of the great challenges for passenger car traffic in upcoming years will be urbanization. The growth of cities and congested areas is a worldwide trend, especially affecting developing and emerging countries. But the trend is evident even in Germany, though less dynamic. Experts assume that the population of the five largest German cities will increase by 10 to 30 percent by 2030. This means that traffic in cities will also grow faster. This trend is further reinforced by e-commerce. The strong growth in online retail sales leads to above-average increases in delivery transport in cities. 

At the same time, a transition in mobility can be observed in cities: city residents have become more flexible in their choice of means of transport and combine them more frequently. They move multimodally – even when they own their own cars. This style of mobility has only just become possible due to smartphones. They make transport information easily and comprehensively accessible. The smartphone provides information at any time about which means of transport is the fastest, cheapest or more comfortable for any imminent trip from A to B. This may be a personal car or bicycle, or the subway or light rail, a rental bike, car sharing or a combination. 

The wide rang of possibilities, however, indicates that mobility providers must cooperate across sectors much more intensively than before. This affects many different individual tasks that must be mastered for new urban mobility. For emissions-free electric mobility, for example, a dense charging infrastructure is needed. Building it is a communal task, where the auto industry, energy providers, municipalities, private parking garage operators, retailers and the residence market must cooperate. In order for car sharing offers and local public transportation to mesh better, even more data exchange is required. Multimodal route recommendations are conceivable, where the user first takes a subway, for example, then switches to a car sharing vehicle or a rental bike. However, this requires continuous exchange of traffic data in real time between individual and public means of transport. For this reason, the automotive industry wants to further intensify its exchanges with cities and transportation agencies. Sustainable solutions for the urban mobility of the future are to be developed and discussed. In addition, the auto industry has begun a close dialog with the startup sector. Many companies in this field are developing innovative mobility services. They can make a valuable contribution to the digitalization of mobility for the auto industry.

Long-distance buses

Long-distance buses have quickly established themselves as a new pillar of long-distance passenger traffic, along with cars, trains and airplanes, since the market was liberalized in 2013. The number of passengers has risen steeply. In 2015, around 20 million passengers were carried. Long-distance bus operations have apparently struck a nerve with their service. According to data from the Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG), in August 2015 around 300 lines were on offer for national scheduled long-distance transport, with a weekly volume of about 9,500 trips. This volume thus increased around 35 percent over the previous year. The strong growth enabled long-distances buses to substantially increase their share of the overall scheduled transport market for buses and trains in Germany. According to numbers from the BAG, the market share of long-distance buses rose from 5.9 percent (2013) to 11 percent (2014). This probably does not put the dominance of rail for scheduled transport in any doubt, even over the long term. But long-distance buses do provide notable competition that also benefits train customers. The railroad now has significantly more inexpensive tickets on offer. 

In the third year after liberalization, the supply of long-distance bus travel has become predominantly concentrated in a few large operating companies. The high competitive pressure has already led to a strong consolidation of the market. At the same time, further growth within Germany and in cross-border travel can be expected. For bus companies, interest in the longdistance bus market appears unabated. Especially small and medium businesses are using the commercial potential in a new, growing market. This means that small and medium bus companies, in addition to large, well-known brands and mobility companies, are also able to profit from this new demand. 

The increased density of the network, however, produces challenges for infrastructure, especially in cities and municipalities. Mostly this means long-distance bus stops, which still do not meet the requirements for modernity and capacity at many locations. In order for the market to continue to grow so dynamically, additional investments in infrastructure are needed. Long-distance bus providers can contribute to this with usage fees. For municipalities, however, the focus should be on the opportunities that long-distance buses bring.

Dr. Michael Niedenthal
Dr. Michael Niedenthal Head of Department Transport policy

Tel: +49 30 897842-360 Fax: +49 30 897842-600
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