How a climate saver is fighting for his comeback

In Corona times, passengers avoid public buses and trains for fear of infections. The operating companies want to change that as quickly as possible – and are demanding new offers.

A man in a mask gets on a bus in Neumünster.

VBefore Corona, buses and trains were the means of transport of choice for more and more people. But when the virus came, they suddenly emptied. The fear of contagion overshadowed thoughts of traffic jams, bad air and climate change. “It’s usually all hell going on with us,” says Stefanie Haaks, CEO of the Cologne transport company KVB. “Our buses and trains are not only busy, they are overloaded. Physical contact is required. ”But in March and April, like everywhere else, suddenly only 10 to 20 percent of passengers were sitting on public transport in Cologne – although most companies kept up 75 percent of their services. Despite the relaxation of the contact restrictions and the return to normal operation, public transport is still far from normal. The occupancy rate in Cologne is currently only 40 percent.

Haaks’ experience is shared by Ingo Wortmann, managing director of the Munich transport company MVG, and Knut Ringat, managing director of the Rhein-Main transport association RMV. They currently report almost 50 percent utilization. This is pleasant for the passengers because they can keep their distance. For the companies, however, it is a problem because they are dependent on ticket revenues – or on even more government support. “We share the concern with the entire industry that passengers will not return 100 percent this year,” says Jörg Sandvoss, CEO of Deutsche Bahn subsidiary DB Regio.