Fast connections with buses and trams are considered essential to make local transport in Berlin more attractive. The goal for years has therefore been to speed up local public transport – but the opposite is the case: the average speed of buses and trams operated by Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) fell in 2021.

The trams in particular were slower than they had been in at least five years. The tram went from 18.8 to 17.6 km/h, as the BVG announced in connection with its annual balance sheet. The buses only drove at an average speed of 17.9 km/h instead of 18.2. “Buses and trams are not that attractive in Berlin. I don’t lure anyone from their beautiful car into local public transport,” said Jens Wieseke, spokesman for the Berlin Passenger Association, with a view to the sobering numbers. It is an indictment that the tram is still slower than the bus, despite often having its own tracks.

Not only do the citizens have little interest in using means of transport that hardly get from the spot, but the costs for the BVG also increase unnecessarily if travel times increase. Wieseke called for a “fundamental rethinking” of the importance of local public transport. “Priority must always be given to buses and trams. We not only need bus lanes, but also priority circuits. When a tram arrives at an intersection, it must always be given priority.”

The spokesman for the passenger association demanded that the necessary automatic systems be installed as quickly as possible. “We need a change in awareness in the city that trams and buses have to be attractive so that we can make progress with the traffic turnaround.”


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