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“Smart mobility is not always about infrastructure”

Jonathan Andrews met with Maria Vassilakou, Vice-Mayor and Vice-Governor Executive City Councillor for Urban Planning, Traffic and Transport, City of Vienna. She reveals the mobility challenges of the fastest growing German-speaking city and why better urban design is the solution
Maria Vassilakou, Vice-Mayor and Vice-Governor Executive City Councillor for Urban Planning, Traffic and Transport, City of Vienna
Photo: Lukas Beck

You mentioned at the Urban Future conference (held in Vienna at the end of February) that a few years ago you reduced the annual transit pass cost to €365 or €1 a day. What impact has that had on user numbers and also financially for the city?

That was back in 2012 and this was probably the smartest idea that we have had in the past few years. In combination with the expansion of parking space management to the outer districts we managed to shift the modal split from 31 percent private car use to 27 percent within only two years. This is spectacular and at the same time, public transport use went from 36 percent up to 39 percent, also within two years, so yes, this was a dramatic shift.

If you take a closer look at it today you will see that there are about 780,000 annual cards being issued. Back then there were about 300,000, so it has more than doubled, and if you count the students–who have even cheaper cards–you arrive at a number of more than 900,000 which means that every one out of two residents in Vienna has an annual card and since they have it, they use it. It cost about €30 million in the first few years but because so many more cards were sold than originally expected, after three years this cost was neutralised.

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