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German cities to offer daily green rides for free

by Staff Correspondent

No plans circulated, German civic bodies scratching their heads!

Crumbling under pressure mounted by the European Union to rein in air pollution, the German government is now considering a plan that aims at making public transportation free in five of its most polluted cities. Bonn, Essen, Reutlingen, Mannheim and Herrenberg are earmarked for this ambitious project.

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German government on Tuesday proposed the free public transportation scheme to encourage people to leave their cars at home, thereby reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions and particulate matter.

The letter in this sequence, written jointly by German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt and chancellery office, chief, Peter Altmaier, was sent to European Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella in Brussels.

Appeasement of German Automakers?

German government’s idea to test free public transportation was also seen as one of Berlin’s latest attempts to conform to environmental standards and appease German carmakers as it also proposed instating “low emission zones” for large transporter vehicles, increasing the number of electric-powered taxis and boosting incentives for electric cars in general.

Pollution Watch

It is not that Germany has been totally negligent when it comes to curtailing pollutants and thereby pollution. It was already in the right direction as far as the stats indicate. The pace, however, was not satisfactory. With this pilot project achieving desired results, Germany aspires to breathe air cleaner than ever before.

According to European Environment Agency, emissions have reduced to almost half between 1990 and 2015. Interestingly, the pollution due to commercial, institutional and household activities has reduced drastically but vehicular pollution has remained somewhat the same. The recent German move aims at restricting the same.

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No rollout dates

The letter to this effect has left Germany’s civic bodies, including those selected for the free public transport, scratching their heads cluelessly.

Bonn local body sources revealed that the free public transport is not in the planning phase yet. There aren’t any rollout dates or further information so as to how much the federal government will give the city to subsidize free public transportation, Bonn municipality sources pleading anonymity said.

Dicey road to free rides

Some questions need to be answered first when it comes to making ticketless rides a reality. The first one would be accommodating the anticipated increase in passengers that would involve beefing up the existing public transportation fleets with more buses and streetcars. Of course, the eco-friendly ones!

Quote Unquote

Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) sources told The TrickyScribe that they were “critical” of the German government’s plans, particularly when it comes to how much it will cost.

Almost half of the money that goes into Germany’s municipal public transportation companies comes from ticket sales, close to $14.8 billion a year, according to the VDV insider.

Not mincing words, the VDV spokesperson said in the end that taxpayers will have to fund the “green” free rides.

Bonn Mayor Ashok Sridharan said he was timely aware of the government’s intentions over the weekend. Sridharan, in a statement, said he was happy Bonn was selected as one of the “lead cities.”

Extending support on his part, Sridharan said: “We also have one or two ideas that we can also propose since we’ve been working on this topic for some time.”

Dodging driving bans

Federal Administrative Court, Leipzig, will on come Thursday consider whether driving bans for diesel cars are legal. Should the court back such bans, it would likely be a game changer for air quality in Germany’s smoggiest cities, but also deal a hard blow to the German auto industry.

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