Heinrich-Heine-Schule Heikendorf (2015)

Revolutionising Public Transport And a Bonus System for Bus Tickets

2nd place solution of the YES! 2015

While 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas today, this number will rise to 66 per cent by 2050. This development means that the global urban population will then count 6.4 billion people. 1
The report „Revision of World Urbanization Prospects“ by the United Nations, published in 2014, shows that 90 per cent of the increase in urban population will take place in Asia and Africa. Particularly affected will be India, China and Nigeria with increases of 404 million, 292 million, and 212 million additional residents respectively.
The increase in population leads to social, economic, and ecological changes. Hoping for a better life, many villagers move to the cities to seek work. Many remain in the cities, even if they are unsuccessful in finding work. Large cities therefore often have a high concentration of poverty and social inequality. Here, wealthy municipalities coexist with slums and impoverished neighbourhoods.
From an economic perspective, cities require intensive policy coordination and thoughtful financial investments. Large cities have a higher risk for catastrophes and have a major impact on climate change, i.e., two-thirds of the world’s available energy resources are used in large cities. The biggest problem in urban areas is air pollution caused by industry and traffic.

Challenges of the topic
As stated in the introduction, the urban development causes numerous problems. The group decided to work on a solution proposal for an improved infrastructure since this is a key factor for a city’s attractiveness and competitiveness. The attractiveness of a city is a pivotal point. What happens if more than 50 per cent of the population lives in cities, but nobody feels comfortable, or in the worst case, gets ill because of air pollution? For example, in China, roughly 1.4 million people die every year because of pollution burden in metropolises like Beijing2. A study conducted by the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry assumes that in 2050, when 6.4 billion people will live in large cities, twice as many people than today will die from the effects of air pollution in South and East Asia.
In addition, cities benefit from an improved infrastructure, since having easy access to cities increases the attractiveness of cities as a location for business from the viewpoint of companies. This leads to more jobs, and potentially, to a rise in the quality of life. The establishment of companies also increases tax revenues of a city, which in turn can be reinvested to improve urban life. We, therefore, decided to propose a solution which increases the attractiveness of public transport and lowers the share of individual transport.

While researching information about urban development, we came across the Brazilian city of Curitiba. It built the basic concept for our solution proposal. In the 1960s, the Mayor of Curitiba – Jaime Lerner – began to radically change the hitherto existing layout of the city. Today, Curitiba is the greenest city in the world with 52 m2 of green space per person. However, Curitiba is better known for its “bus rapid transit system“ (BRT), which was also
developed by Lerner. More than 70 percent of the trips undertaken by the almost 1.8 million inhabitants of Curitiba is done by bus, which led to a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions to 25 per cent of the Brazilian average. The “bus rapid transit system“ has been developed because the construction of a subway system would cost 100 times as much. Instead, Lerner kept road traffic but changed its structure fundamentally: there are two lanes leading in and out of the city. However, one lane in both directions is exclusively designated to busses.

Furthermore, Lerner’s system is characterized by a very high frequency of transportation. During rush hour, buses run every minute, stopping on average only 15-19 seconds per stop. This is achieved by a particular design of the bus stop, optimized to quickly enter and exit the bus. In addition, there are no delays caused by traffic congestion, since one lane is exclusively reserved for buses. This way 2.3 million people can be transported daily.

The bus stops are tabular and can only be accessed by passengers who have a valid ticket. There is no sale of tickets on the bus, so the departure is not delayed. In addition, both the bus stops as well as the busses, are equipped with extra-wide sliding doors that simplify boarding.
If the population in cities increases, it is necessary to transport many people as efficiently as possible. The curitiban system is easily implementable and could also be realized, for example, in German cities without a subway system. It would, in most cases, not require extensive road construction work.

YES! Solution
Our draft proposes the following: the inhabitants of suburbs drive ideally carpool- to a large parking area, with several access roads, at the outskirts of the city. From there, they take the bus to the city. People living in the city centre just go to a bus stop, which is similar to the one field-tested in Curitiba. It is important to adjust the bus schedule to core time, in order to avoid waiting time and to increase public transport’s attractiveness. It makes sense to adopt many innovations tested in Curitiba to the German infrastructure. At best, the cities should also invest in electric buses or buses with hybrid drive, as they are climate-friendly and would improve public transport even further.

Another idea is to build more rotary traffics. Two-lane rotary traffics offer a lot of advantages since they are less expensive than traffic lights, they cause less stagnation in traffic, which in turn leads to less noise pollution caused by traffic, and they offer the possibility to lay out green areas. Such measures to restructure cities could partly be financed by a tax on fossil fuels or a congestion charge for, particularly climate-damaging vehicles. This would reduce the attractiveness of individual traffic at the same time.
The introduction of an inner city toll, which works very successfully for example in London, would also be useful on several levels: firstly, it would improve air quality, traffic flow, and thus the quality of life. Secondly, the revenue could be invested in the improvement and development of streets.
Our most important solution proposal is the introduction of a bonus system for bus tickets, which can be applied without the reconstruction of cities and infrastructure. The proposed incentive scheme works as follows:

  • One buys an “electronic“ bus ticket; for a European city, we suggest a price of about 50€. Children, students and pensioners pay less.
  • Every time one uses the ticket to enter a bus stop/ a bus, the ticket machine registers it and credits point to an account.
  • When leaving the bus stop/ the bus, the terminal stop is registered. The credited points depend on the distance travelled.
  • At the end of the month, the points credited to the account determine how much money is refunded to the owner of the bus ticket.
  • We would put the maximum refund possible at 60 per cent of the monthly ticket price.

To bind the population to public transport, we discourage a payout of the refund in cash. We suggest that the refund can only be used to get a discount on the next monthly ticket.
In addition, one could also connect the use of the “electronic“ bus ticket with the use of bike stations, which are available in many major cities by now. The bonus system would work accordingly: a ticket machine registers the “electronic” ticket when taking the bike. When the bike is returned, regardless of which bike station, the user will get points credited to his/ her account.
Of course, it is a difficult process to fully convince the population of the use of public transport and to get them to abandon individual transport. This must go hand in hand with educating people in matter of climate change and the prospects of urban development.

Our solution proposal to create a bonus system for public transport is meant to increase the quality of life in cities substantially. To improve quality of life is one of the most important aspects of urban development since more than half of the world’s population will life in urban areas by 2050. Politicians have to be prepared for this development and have to take appropriate measures, in order to prevent the forecast that more than four million people in South and East Asia will die due to air pollution in 2050. The proposed bonus system for bus tickets is meant to convince people of the benefits of public transport and, subsequently, bind them to it.

1 https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-urbanization-prospects.html
2 http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wissen/klima/feinstaub-immer-mehr-tote-durch-luftverschmutzung-

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Photo: YES!