20 recommendations on transport transition

22. February 2024
Marco Verch / Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Deed)

On 11 February 2024, the Citizens' Assembly "Joint transport transition in urban and rural areas" adopted its recommendations on the municipal transport topics of on-demand transport in rural areas, attractive city centres and forms of participation in transport transition measures. The 20 proposals were submitted to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research on 27 May 2024.

To draw up the recommendations, 50 citizens from all over Germany spent two weekends and three evenings receiving information, asking questions, discussing, exchanging views and compiling aspects and measures that were important to them. From this, they jointly formulated and voted on a total of 20 recommendations.

Attractive on-demand transport services

The Citizens' Assembly recommends, among other things, that on-demand transport should provide comprehensive access to areas not connected to public transport, particularly in rural areas. On-demand transport refers to mobility services that can be ordered. In on-demand transport, the transport service only comes when ordered and is usually operated with cars or minibuses. The pick-up can be timetabled, stop-based or door-to-door.

The fare structure must be attractively priced and socially acceptable. A standardised payment and booking system is required. A nationwide digital platform should link on-demand transport with other means of public transport. In rural areas, a nationwide, safe cycling infrastructure is also required.

Mobility levy proposed

To finance the transport transition, the Citizens' Assembly proposes the introduction of a socially fair, income-based, earmarked mobility levy. If this levy is not sufficient, the introduction of a motorway toll for cars is also proposed. An information campaign should be organised to promote needs-based and sustainable mobility.

To increase the quality of urban life, the assembly participants recommend the creation of green spaces by rededicating and unsealing existing areas such as car parks and car lanes. Local public transport should be expanded to meet demand. Outside the city centres, sufficient and attractively priced park-and-ride facilities as well as covered and secure bicycle parking spaces should be created.

Reorganising urban space

Urban space should be reorganised in favour of cyclists, pedestrians and public transport and at the expense of cars. Car lanes and parking spaces should be rededicated in favour of cycle paths and footpaths. The traffic turnaround needs more planning competences at municipal level. Pilot projects and experiments such as 30 km/h urban speed limits should not be allowed to fail due to rules and legislation at federal and state level. There should be financial incentives for the use of buses, trams and bicycles.

With regard to citizen participation in the implementation of the traffic turnaround measures, the Citizens' Assembly proposes that all citizens be comprehensively informed about the traffic turnaround. This should be done early, transparently and continuously via all available channels such as letter post, newspapers, radio, the Internet, QR codes, social media and citizen contacts and meetings. The measures agreed with citizens must be implemented in a binding manner.

Actively involve citizens

To ensure that citizens are actively involved in decision-making processes, platforms should be created where they can contribute their own suggestions and ideas for the respective project. This could be a public pinboard, an ideas mailbox or a citizens' workshop. To this end, the Citizens' Assembly is calling for a "well thought-out combination of digital and on-site formats. It must also be possible to change participation methods in the course of the process so that new findings can be incorporated.

"The transport transition can only be achieved as a joint social effort with broad acceptance," says the website for the accompanying research into sustainable mobility. The randomly selected participants of the citizens' assembly discussed how and in what form citizens should, want to and can be involved in the implementation of transport transition measures and what framework conditions are needed for this.

A diverse picture of the population

The citizens' assembly "Joint transport transition in urban and rural areas" consisted of 50 randomly selected citizens from all over Germany. People from Castrop-Rauxel, Berlin or Dresden sat alongside people from Zurow, Kleinfischlingen or Ingenried. The participants came from 25 randomly selected locations of different sizes. Age groups, genders and educational qualifications were distributed in such a way that they represented a diverse picture of the population, which was based on the actual distribution in Germany.

The first part of a working unit within the Citizens' Assembly focussed on providing information and giving participants the opportunity to ask questions. In the second part, the participants discussed in small groups how they felt this issue should be dealt with and which aspects or solutions they considered important or appropriate.

Based on their findings, the participants gradually drew up draft recommendations for the three topics, finalised them on the last weekend of the Citizens' Assembly and voted on them. At the end of the Citizens' Assembly, there were 20 recommendations from the participants of the mini-public.

"It was fun"

Participant Andrea Wahle is actually quite happy with the traffic situation on her doorstep. She was motivated to take part in the Citizens' Assembly by the civic engagement involved. "You can only improve things if you take action yourself," says the 66-year-old pensioner from Berlin. "It was fun. Everyone contributed their own experiences, from those with a low level of education to teachers," she explains. Wahle would like to see more citizens' assemblies on many topics: "Because things can only move forward if everyone can participate".

The main addressee of the Citizens' Assembly "Joint Transport Turnaround in Urban and Rural Areas" is the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as the funding body, which would like to derive findings from the results for the future design of funding measures and, on the other hand, the local authorities of the accompanying research and local authorities in general, which would like to implement traffic transition measures together with the population.

Recommendations for the Ministry of Education and local authorities

The results of the citizens' assembly will be presented in a citizens' report. The report was submitted to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and discussed with representatives of local authorities on 27 May 2024.

The citizens' assembly wax organised by the nexus Institute as part of the accompanying research into sustainable mobility funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Read more: Citizens' Assembly "Joint transport transition in urban and rural areas"

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