Study Trip in Mannheim (Germany)
The study visit began at the headquarters of the transport association Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar (VRN) in Mannheim, B1, 3-5. Werner Schreiner from the VRN mobility and project department welcomed the participants and gave a presentation of history and recent situation of VRN, which provides public transport services within the territory of three German federal states - Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse since 1996, including selected statistical data. VRN organizes cooperation of 54 transport companies in 24 districts, cities and towns, meaning a territory 9 967 km2 large, with population of ca. 3 million inhabitants. (for details see the attached presentation)
Werner Schreiner briefly described the principles of service of the area, putting emphasize on connection with rural, less populated areas. Cooperation with transport operators and municipalities is formed on a contractual basis (7-8 year contracts with municipalities, ten-year contracts with bus operators and fifteen- year ones with DB. Concerning distribution of revenues coming from transport services provision, a stable distribution system has been introduced. VRN creates plans and organizes public transport while members make decisions regarding their territory. VRN nowadays pays increased attention to new forms of mobility, like bike rental (VRNnextbike since 2015) or car-sharing, and develops electronic ticketing as well. VRN also utilizes the principle of line taxis, which can be ordered by passengers half an hour in advance. Line taxis also replace certain bus connections during weekends in order to secure connection to the nearest railway station. Special care is being taken for handicapped people. Stations and bus-stops are being refurbished with regard to their specific needs.
New projects of VRN include introduction of a S-Bahn line to the BASF plant in Ludwigshafen, which is expected to make transport for about 30,000 employees to and from work easier. Train timetable will be adjusted to BASF's flexible shifts. Furthermore, refurbishment of 70 trainsets is under preparation for a final S-Bahn concept of 2019-2020.
VRN participates in the Upper Rhine Conference (with partners from Switzerland, France, federal states of Germany as well as Belgium and Luxembourg) and is a member of the VDV (Organisation of German Transport Companies) and the UITP (International Association of Public Transport).
Following the presentation, as recommended by Werner Schreiner, we visited the interchange terminal by Mannheim main station, which is the central city node and intersection of all important VRN lines connecting the Mannheim agglomeration to its hinterlands and peripheral areas of rural character (regional and intercity bus lines, regional expresses, regional trains, interurban trams, municipal trams).