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Austrian lesson

01 Aug 2002

ALL TOO OFTEN urban authorities bemoan the low share of traffic moving by public transport. For an example of a city where the reverse is true, look no further than the Austrian capital. Figures released by Wien city council last month show that a record 729 million passengers rode public transport last year, 4·5 million more than in 2000; this represented 34% of all trips. Fewer urban journeys are being made by private cars and motorcycle, down from 40% in 1993 to 36% last year; the other 30% were on foot or by pedal cycle.

The popularity of public transport is no doubt explained by a dense grid of tram routes meshing well with a steadily expanding U-Bahn network. Common ticketing and a unitary fares structure also help. These are simple lessons which some cities find hard to learn.