Anti-auto policies can have economic consequences


Mobility is a basic human need. Ensuring them is taken for granted in the everyday life of the population. It is a prerequisite for an economy based on the division of labor and an engine of overall economic value creation. In the course of the development of the transport system, the number of daily trips and the daily time budget per person have hardly changed on a statistical average over decades - around 60 minutes are still used to reach around three destinations. At the same time, however, a serious increase in traffic volume is to be registered, which results from further distances made possible by higher speeds. The decisive factor for this traffic growth is auto-mobility, both in motorized individual traffic as well as goods traffic and urban commercial traffic. In recent years, however, the negative consequences associated with this development have also become more and more important. The increase in mobility and growing traffic bottlenecks lead to ever greater burdens on people and the environment. They are increasingly questioning today's transport system.

An alleviation of this situation is not in sight. On the contrary: Due to the reunification of Germany, the opening of the borders to Eastern Europe and the completion of the European internal market, the transport sector is faced with completely new requirements and perspectives. In addition, growing incomes and more free time also contribute significantly to the expansion of transport needs. Increasing stocks of vehicles and steadily increasing mileage will further exacerbate traffic and environmental problems. Enormous growth rates are expected. The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) expects an increase in the distances covered per inhabitant by almost 2,000 km to almost 13,500 km compared to the base year 1992 by 2010, and freight traffic is expected to increase the amount of traffic over the same period by 61% to 495 billion tonne-kilometers climb. In the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan 1992, an increase in transport performance of 29% in individual motorized transport and 95% in road freight transport is predicted for the period from 1988 to 2010. With these already frightening forecast values, however, it can be assumed that they - like all previous calculations - probably underestimate the actual growth. It is

So to reckon with even greater traffic, environmental and safety problems if the traffic policy does not counteract this.

The few data mentioned already give an impression of the development that is to be expected. Transport policy decisions and measures seem to be urgently needed because the limits of the capacity of the infrastructure have already been reached in many places, even exceeded, and because the shifting of problem solutions for traffic-related environmental pollution (pollutant emissions, ozone concentration) and for the subsequent social processes (accidents) is becoming less and less common is tolerated. What is certain here is that the car will continue to occupy an important place in the transport system in the future - according to forecasts, a further expansion of its position is to be expected. Accordingly, a future-oriented transport policy cannot focus only on public transport. Rather, a realistic policy must also take into account improvements in the infrastructure for the car. Otherwise the transport infrastructure could become a barrier to economic development in Germany and Europe, so the warning of the Advisory Council on the assessment of macroeconomic development in its annual report 1990/91.

What is also certain is that the expansion of the transport infrastructure can no longer keep pace with the emerging growth in transport needs. The reasons for this lie, among other things, in the (too) long planning and construction times, in the financial situation of the federal government, states and municipalities, but also in the increasing environmental pollution and the greater environmental awareness of the population. This makes expanding the road network a lengthy and sometimes even impossible undertaking. In metropolitan areas in particular, such projects are increasingly denied social acceptance.

In this situation, politics must not limit itself to curing symptoms and blocking further approaches to action. Rather, it is important to develop and implement future-oriented problem solutions. We are looking for concepts that mobilize the existing capacity reserves of the transport infrastructure and that make transport processes more efficient, more effective, more environmentally friendly and safer. A central approach in this context is to be seen in the creation of integrated transport networks that lead to a better quality of life and the exploitation of economic

economic and social potential by improving the transitions between long-distance and distribution traffic, between area and urban centers, but also between the various modes of transport car, train, ship and plane. Such a division of labor between the modes of transport would transform the coexistence of transport, which still largely exists today, into an integrated overall system with extended degrees of freedom. This is about optimizing complex mobility, including individual transport, and not about an anti-car policy that merely seeks to shift the modal split in favor of public transport.

The aim must be, with the support of coordinated measures of infrastructure and regulatory policy, to develop a transport system that ensures long-term sustainable mobility. Telematics can contribute to mastering this task by creating the conditions for better traffic, information and network management, among other things. In addition, as part of a complex set of instruments, telematics can support politicians in their efforts to achieve environmentally friendly mobility and to save scarce resources by substituting transport.

© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | January 2001