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Finanzielle Nachhaltigkeit des öffentlichen Personennahverkehrs: Entwicklungen und Herausforderungen in Deutschland und den USA


  • Ralph Bühler
  • John Pucher


Improved financial sustainability of public transport promotes environmental and social sustainability because more efficient public transport can be expanded more with any given budget and thus provides a better alternative to the car. Over the past two decades, Germany has improved the quality of its public transport services and attracted more passengers while increasing productivity, reducing costs, and cutting subsidies. German public transport agencies cover 77 percent of their operating expenses through passenger fare revenue, compared to only 32 percent in the USA. We analyze reasons for the increased financial efficiency of public transport in Germany over the past two decades. Public transport systems reduced their costs through organizational restructuring and outsourcing to newly founded subsidiaries; cutting employee benefits and freezing salaries; increasing work hours and encouraging retirement of older employees; cutting underutilized routes and services; and buying new rolling stock with lower maintenance costs and greater passenger capacity. Revenues were increased through fare hikes and raising passenger volumes by improved quality of service and the full regional coordination of timetables, fares, and services. Even though German public transport has improved its financial sustainability, new EU regulations, the municipal financial crisis, and demographic change in the coming years will require further improvements and innovative solutions. Eine verbesserte finanzielle Nachhaltigkeit des ÖPNV erleichtert das Erreichen ökologischer und sozialer Nachhaltigkeitsziele, da Verkehre effizienter und kostengünstiger angeboten und ausgeweitet werden können. Dieser Artikel blickt aus den USA auf die beachtlichen Erfolge deutscher Nahverkehrsunternehmen, die in den letzten 20 Jahren ihre finanzielle Nachhaltigkeit stark verbessert haben. Dies liegt zum einen an attraktiveren Angeboten und gestiegenen Fahrgastzahlen, aber auch an erhöhter Produktivität mit niedrigeren Betriebskosten und weniger staatlichen Subventionen für den Betrieb. Wir kontrastieren zunächst die positiven Entwicklungen in Deutschland mit Trends in den USA, wo seit 1990 die Relation der Fahrgeldeinnahmen zu den Betriebskosten, also der Kostendeckungsgrad, auf nur 32 Prozent gefallen ist. Im Gegensatz hierzu verzeichnete der ÖPNV in Deutschland im gleichen Zeitraum einen Anstieg des Kostendeckungsgrades auf 77 Prozent. Der zweite Teil dieses Artikels widmet sich einer Analyse der Gründe für die gesteigerte finanzielle Nachhaltigkeit des deutschen Nahverkehrs. Wir beschreiben die Maßnahmen, die zur Kostensenkung und Steigerung der Einnahmen beigetragen haben. Obwohl deutsche Nahverkehrsunternehmen große Schritte in die richtige Richtung gemacht haben, sehen sie sich enormen Herausforderungen gegenüber, die weitere Anstrengungen erfordern.

Suggested Citation

  • Ralph Bühler & John Pucher, 2010. "Finanzielle Nachhaltigkeit des öffentlichen Personennahverkehrs: Entwicklungen und Herausforderungen in Deutschland und den USA," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 79(2), pages 127-138.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwvjh:79-2-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521747387, March.
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    More about this item


    Public transport; Germany; effi ciency;

    JEL classification:

    • L91 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Transportation: General
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • R48 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government Pricing and Policy


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