Bonn City has a problem. No, not the Beethoven Hall catastrophe. No, not the debt problem. No, not the swimming pool plan. I’m talking about the other one, the one that is seriously impacting health and quality of life. Air pollution levels have risen above permitted norms. Public transport quality appears to be dropping. Traffic levels are too high. The ongoing discussion involves diesel cars, electric transport, free public transport, cycle infrastructure, parking and even ski-resort style cable-car lifts. It’s a complex mix of projects and difficult to follow. Thanks to a recent statement from the City of Bonn, however, there’s a concise summary of actions available. This bullet-point list is important for every citizen of Bonn; to be aware of it in any discussion on the topic, to understand it before engaging in online clicktivism and as a platform for further discussion, ideas and accelerated progress.
The statement, linked below, came from the Mayors office (Mayor Sridharan, CDU party) just 24 hours after a high court in Germany ruled that cities can consider banning diesel cars in order to reduce emissions. It also comes a week after a leaked document suggested that Bonn could become a test bed for free public transport. The headline statement is that our Mayor is opposed to a ban on diesel cars but alongside the statement, the mayor’s office has listed all the existing activities and projects that are underway. I’ve listed the 9 points below.
For the record I’m not a fan of ‘free’ (or ticketless, as it’s better described) public transport but I am a fan of reducing the number of cars in the city and reducing air pollution. I am a fan of banning diesel cars under some conditions. More importantly though I believe that if there’s a plan, citizens should know about it and push for the best possible results.
That’s my position. Now here’s the position of the city of Bonn on free public transport. I will not translate directly and may add references to the information in the original statement above.
Before reading the list it’s important for the citizens of Bonn to know that the air quality plan (luftreinhalttungsplan) is controlled by the regional government (Bezirksregierung Koeln) which makes its decisions through a separate council. They may give Bonn the right to input into the plan and may delegate some options to the city but what they decide is what Bonn will have to implement. It is not a discussion point for our city council.
City of Bonn Statement on air-quality related projects. March 2018
The city of Bonn has listed a 9-point plan that is Independent of any regional decisions on diesel bans but dependant on lasting and sustainable funding from the state. Some information is given below about state funding programs.
Upgrading public transport buses
Diesel buses should be upgraded to the best diesel emissions standards and, in addition, electric buses should be acquired. SWB (Stadtwerk Bonn Bus und Bahn) is currently testing electric buses and is working on a proposal for the gradual upgrade and exchange of buses. There is a funding opportunity here through the state program “Sofortprogramm Saubere Luft 2017.” (Emergency Clean Air Program.)
SWB have a list of three projects listed on their website but I don’t see any dates and suspect this is not regularly updated. An interesting letter was sent from SWB to the council in answer to questions about the effects of diesel engines. Public document 1712627. In the response by SWB there are clear indications as to the project status. For example, SWB states that the availability of the electric buses is not as good as diesel.
I note that Die Linke have a request to extend the proposal for using the funding from the states Emergency Clean Air Program. Antrag 1810572
City council transport
The city council transport fleet will be upgraded to low-emission diesel and electric vehicles. The first vehicles are already in operation. The city council, including SWB and BonnOrange are continuously checking the status of vehicles and deciding which should be upgraded. There is a funding opportunity here from the state program “Emissionsfreie Innenstadt” (Emission-free city centre.)
I was unable to find a public project plan for this item but I note that Bonn has recently requested a supplier for 4 hybrid cars.
Cycle rental system
The bike rental system will be introduced by SWB in 2018. A request for proposals was started in February and includes a requirement for a minimum of 900 bikes at 100 virtual or fixed locations in Bonn. Prices for use of the system will be integrated in to the public transport charging system and will include limited free use by season ticket holders.
Additional reference: SWB bike rental system project requirements.
I note that I haven’t yet seen a tender for the bike rental system in the official list of tenders for the NRW region.
The network of cycle routes will be expanded. Focus is on main routes such as the Bonn – Alfter – Bornheim route and routes on the right and left of the Rhein river. The project will also look to see what work can be done under the Emision-free City Center state funding program or other funding programs.
Note: It is assumed that the results of the citizen-inclusive project ‘RadDialog’ will be included here. Link: First results presentation to the council – RadDialog
Note: It is assumed that the Bonn project Fahrradhauptstadt 2020 is part of this program.
Public transport expansion
The city council is currently performing a cost-usage analysis for a cable car system to the Venusberg (City document archive search results here.) which will provide an east-west public transport route in the south of Bonn. In addition the first planning is being performed for a city train route on the right hand side of the Rhein to Niederkassel. Bonn is also working with other transport authorities to electrify the S23 route on the left side of the Rhein. (Bonn – Euskirchen – Bad Münstereifel route.)
A new parking system will be introduced with expansion and modernisation including, for example, smartphone-based parking assistance. The project is relatively new and is currently in the planning phase. A statement from the City on the new parking system project progress is available here. (Jan 2018)
Integration of public transport offerings
The network of bus, train and bike offerings is environmentally stronger when a user can move with flexibility between them, and ones own personal transport. This is made possible through the use of ‘mobility stations’ where as many transport options as possible are attractively connected. The City of Bonn, in cooperation with the SWB, is currently working on initial plans for these mobility stations in Bonn, which could be funded from the “Emission-free City Center” program.
Corporate Mobility Management
The Rhein-Sieg-Kreis and the City of Bonn is currently working on a corporate mobility plan. The aim is to work with employers in the region to learn about existing approaches and to develop them further in order to reduce the number of car journeys, especially at peak times, with offers such as job tickets, service bicycles, etc.
Digital connectivity for public and individual transport
Digital networking is an opportunity that could improve transport . This applies, for example, to buses and trains, which are given priority at junctions. The city of Bonn and the SWB are working on the plans for networking the public transport network as part of a so-called “master plan”, which is funded to 100 percent by the federal government.
In addition to the statements made by the mayor’s office there’s also a program being implemented at the Uniklinik Bonn Venusberg. Mobil am UKB includes improvement of buses, an e-bike purchase program and discussions with road planners. A large part of the concept is the cable car (Seilbahn) implementation. The Mobil am UKB feasibility study forms the basis of the UKB project. A local activists group, Verkehrskonzept-jetzt, is also reporting on the current status.
The German Partnership for Sustainable Mobility has produced an extensive guide to touring Bonn in an eco-friendly was and includes information about public transport, bike rental. It also includes relevant historical information. Discover Bonn by Sustainable Transport is available as a downloadable PDF file.
Bonn im Wandel is another group of activists in Bonn worth tracking.
Stear your council.
Running a program of transport and air-quality improvements for a city is complex, and expensive but it’s also urgent and it requires input from the people that live in the City. Stearing a project is easier than correcting a bad one. Please lead, and refrain from clicktivism!
Is something missing? Your feedback is more than welcome. (In German, also welcome!) I will continue to try to track this subject and may update on my Twitter account via the #Bonn hashtag.