Frankfurt – Traffic – no other topic in Frankfurt, Germany’s number one commuter metropolis, causes heated discussions.
BILD spoke to the head of the mobility department, Stefan Majer (63) and his designated successor, Wolfgang Siefert (52, both Greens) about the sensitive issues.
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BILD: For years we have been hearing that the turnaround in traffic can only be achieved if public transport becomes so attractive that drivers switch to buses and trains. The magistrate has been demanding the 365 euro ticket since 2018. Now the RMV 2022 increases the fares by 5.4% – how does that fit together please?
Mayer: “New, additional lines, modern trains and buses are top arguments for using public transport. The Regionaltangente West, which will be completed in 2028, will be a milestone. As far as the prices are concerned: Half of the way is done: The citizen tickets for schoolchildren, senior citizens, job tickets, annual tickets and children’s tickets are super attractive and will not be more expensive.”
What if commuters return in droves after the corona pandemic and more cars are on the road again. Threat and then again driving bans due to high nitrogen oxide pollution?
Siefert: “Our top priority is to avoid driving bans. That’s why the old coalition launched a large package of measures. With a speed of 40 km/h, bus lanes, Radentscheid, parking space management. These measures work. And: From 1988 to 2019, motor vehicle traffic in the city center fell by 30%.”
SHOULD COMMUTERS BE DISCARDED?
Lanes have been removed for cycle paths marked in red. Parking spaces become green areas, bicycle racks or restaurants. Critics claim that the green head of transport wants to scare away car commuters.
Mayer: “No I do not know. Frankfurt thrives on commuters. But: The best way to get them is with job tickets. We want to direct car traffic into the multi-storey car parks. Parking on public roads must therefore not be cheaper than in a multi-storey car park. We don’t want parking search traffic creeping through the city. Neither do car posers racing through the city.”
Resident parking was introduced in Bornheim and in the north end. Residents are looking forward to more free parking spaces. In the neighboring parts of the city, however, parking pressure is increasing. And: How expensive should the resident parking permit (previously 25 euros per year) be in the future?
Siefert: “Yes, there are displacement effects when parking. We’ll see where we have to take countermeasures. The residents are very satisfied with the properties that have been set up so far. By 2025, the city districts within the avenue ring should be completely managed with parking space. The coalition is currently discussing future costs for resident parking permits.”
For centuries, traffic has tormented the Am Erlenbruch road. The people in the Riederwald district suffer from this. The BAB connection should provide relief, but the Greens are against it?
Mayer: “The Greens have always been against it, but this battle is lost. It is decided: Autobahn GmbH builds the connection. We abide by a right and law. The city of Frankfurt has already installed 40 million euros in new city drainage channels to clear the building site. If there is already construction going on, please do it quickly, because the road at Am Erlenbruch is in a pitiful state. But it no longer makes sense to carry out major renovations there.”
Carelessly parked scooters are annoying everywhere. What are you going to do about it?
Mayer: “We will create clearly defined parking zones for the e-scooters from April 1st – initially in the city centre. For this, the rental companies have to apply for special usage rights. It will no longer be technically possible to park the e-scooters 100 meters outside of these zones. So this constant annoyance should come to an end. In addition, road safety WILL become more important – i.e. e-scooter drivers have to be prepared for more controls.”
Is the coalition planning to introduce a congestion charge?
Mayer: “No problem! According to the current legal situation, the city cannot decide that itself at all.”
ÖDER WEG AND GREENBURGWEG
Road closures, fewer parking spaces. The planned conversion to bicycle-friendly side streets is causing protests from residents and business people.
Siefert: “Our aim is to noticeably improve the quality of life on these beautiful streets with small measures. The longer people stay there, the more they buy. The local councils discussed the construction measures, some of them very controversially, and finally decided. Nothing was decided over their heads here. If measures do not work, we will correct them.
How should the blocking of this effective west-east connection work without traffic collapsing in Sachsenhausen? And what should happen at Mainkai?
Mayer: “There is a clear statement in the coalition agreement: Mainkai will be closed to motor vehicle traffic by 2026. Traffic will be reorganized by then, and through traffic will largely bypass the city. The loveliest urban spaces are often on the river, as Amsterdam or Paris are good examples. In the summer, we collect ideas from citizens on how to use the asphalt surfaces.”
Researcher demands city toll
Should drivers soon pay for local public transport? That’s what traffic scientist Carsten Sommer is asking for. In order to make the traffic turnaround fit, beneficiary financing is necessary. The curious justification: Car users have an advantage if others take buses and trains and thus do not clog the streets even more. “From my point of view, this new pillar is important, also in view of the necessary expansion of public transport,” said Sommer.