Germany €9 note – Soviet statues removed – Super fast electric ferries – POLITICO

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A conversation about what makes a city livable.

By AITOR HERNANDEZ-MORALES

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Happy Thursday, city ​​lovers, and welcome to POLITICO’s Living Cities project.

Summer is lazily winding down, and that means we’re saying goodbye to days away from the office and the beach. We are also about to say tschüß the German national public transport ticket at €9 per month, which since last June has allowed travelers unlimited access to all buses, trams, metros and other local means of transport, as well as to regional trains running on intercity routes at across the country.

As the program draws to a close, many are already wondering: has it achieved its goal of persuading car owners to abandon private vehicles in favor of public transport? Or was it an over-the-top stunt as frivolous as a summer fling?

We dig into it after the jump.

METRO BRIEFING

END OF LINE FOR THE €9 TICKET IN GERMANY: There is no doubt that Germany’s state-subsidised monthly subscription system is extremely popular. Since its launch in June, around 38 million residents and visitors have purchased the tickets which allow users to use local and regional transport for just €9 per month.

Lindner says no: But despite the program’s popularity, there are no plans to extend it beyond its August 31 end date. According to Liberal Finance Minister Christian Lindner, it would be far too costly to extend the initiative, which has been subsidized to the tune of 2.5 billion euros in public treasury. “Nearly free public transport is not something we can afford in the long term,” he said earlier this month.

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Germany’s €9 note | Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

So, was it worth it? A full review of the three-month program will not be released by the German Transport Ministry until November, but initial data indicates that the initiative has achieved its basic goals of curbing inflation and alleviating the cost of fuel crisis. life while providing an incentive to motorists. to get rid of their cars.

Railway boost: Germany’s Federal Statistical Office found that a fifth of Germans regularly used public transport for the first time thanks to the €9 ticket; it also found a 42% increase in train travel in June and July compared to the same period before COVID 2019.

Anti inflation: Meanwhile, a study by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research claimed that removing the cost of public transport from household budgets – a monthly pass covering only central Berlin typically costs €86, while ‘in Hamburg it’s €115 – has helped reduce runaway inflation by up to 2 percentage points.

Cleaner air: And researchers from the University of Potsdam said the ticket led to a 6-7% decrease in air pollution levels across Germany – with the greatest effect during the working week and in urban areas.

Auf wiedersehen? If the €9 note is about to disappear, there are already various ideas to resurrect it in different forms. The German Greens are proposing to fund a €29 ticket for unlimited regional transit and a €49 ticket for unlimited travel across the country by scrapping tax breaks for polluting industries. The leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, Markus Söder, supports the creation of an annual rail pass at €365. And the Association of German Transport Companies has made its own proposal for a €69 monthly ticket valid across the country, which it says would require an annual public subsidy of €2 billion.

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From September 1 to December 31, all local and medium-distance travel on Spain’s public railways will be free | Miguel Riopa/AFP via Getty Images

Hasta ahora: While the discounted ticket may soon disappear in Germany, the party is about to begin in Spain. From September 1 to December 31, all local and medium-distance travel on the country’s public railways will be free. The measure follows a Spanish government program to fund a 30% discount on multi-trip tickets for urban transit systems across the country this fall.

Now read this: The full report on the German €9 program and other models from across the EU from my colleagues Joshua Posaner, Wilhemine Preussen and Laurenz Gehrke.

CITY HIGHLIGHTS

I MISSED THE MARK: Copenhagen is backing away from its goal of becoming the world’s first CO2-neutral capital by 2025. According to Mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, the Danish capital has already reduced its CO2 emissions by 80%, but to become completely CO2-neutral it would have to eliminate the emissions generated. by the Amager Resource Center (ARC) incinerator. The ARC recently canceled plans to build a plant to capture the CO2 it emits after determining it was not eligible for funding from the Danish government’s Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) fund. 8 billion DKK (1.07 billion euros). “It’s a shame we won’t reach it by 2025,” said Hæstorp Andersen. “But that’s not the same as saying we won’t get there by 2026, 2027 or 2028.”

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The Soviet-era monument in Riga’s Uzvaras Park commemorating the Red Army’s victory over the Nazis in World War II | EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

DISPOSAL OF SOVIET STATUES: This week, Riga began the process of demolishing a Soviet-era statue in the Latvian capital’s Uzvaras Park that commemorates the Red Army’s victory over the Nazis in World War II. Earlier this month, the local government announced plans to demolish the statues and the giant pillar topped with Soviet stars, arguing the monument glorified Latvia’s occupation and Russia’s ongoing war crimes. The move follows the Estonian government’s decision to dismantle a Soviet memorial in Narva, a Russian-speaking town on the Russian border, as part of a wider campaign to remove all Soviet war memorials in public areas.

RISE FROM THE RUINS: The mayors of Florence, Athens, Helsinki, Lyon, Marseille, Oslo, Riga and Tirana traveled to Kyiv this week to sign a political agreement supporting the sustainable reconstruction of Ukrainian cities. The pact, backed by city lobby group Eurocities and the Ukrainian Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, lays the groundwork for collaboration between local leaders across the EU and within Ukraine. Read it here.

MOVE LIKE THE DUTCH: Nearly 700 million tonnes of carbon pollution would be saved each year if every person adopted Dutch levels of bicycle use, according to a new study published in the journal Communications Earth and Environment. Another key point to remember: the main obstacle to increased bicycle adoption in developed countries is the fear “of riding on the road next to motor vehicles”. Install better and safer cycling infrastructure — in other words, go Dutch!

Uber in Brussels: Ride-sharing company Uber told POLITICO it is working to integrate regular Brussels taxis into its platform to comply with new local regulations. This means that Brussels residents and visitors will be able to order a regular taxi via the Uber app, writes Pieter Haeck.

WATER CONCERNS: The Portuguese government has recommended that 43 municipalities temporarily increase water prices for their biggest consumers and suspend street cleaning and the watering of public parks and gardens.

URBAN TRENDS

ELECTRIC TRANSPORTERS: The decarbonisation of ships is a major challenge for European cities bordering on rivers that currently depend on ferries powered by fossil fuels to move residents across wide rivers or bays. In Stockholm, local authorities aim to solve this problem with super-fast electric ferries that will be able to transport passengers from the Swedish capital to the many islands in the immediate vicinity.

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A rendering of the super-fast electric ferries that will debut in Stockholm next year | Candela

In a partnership with the Swedish Transport Authority, Stockholm-based start-up Candela is developing an electric-powered hydrofoil that produces virtually no wake, which would exempt it from Stockholm’s strict speed limits . The plan is part of Sweden’s ambition to reduce emissions from the transport sector by 70% by 2030.

According to Gustav Hemming, a local legislator in the Stockholm region responsible for ferries, the technology could be a game-changer as it will allow for shorter journeys and zero emissions.

Here’s Charlie Duxbury’s full report on the scheme, which is set to start next spring and run for four years at a cost of around £1.9m.

STATISTICS AND THE CITY

PUBLIC FORUM

I recently became obsessed with animator Jan Kamensky’s Visual Utopias project, through which he creates rendered iconic European thoroughfares with cars magically pulled out and busy roads replaced with cycle lanes, walking paths and gardens.

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Kamensky’s vision of a greener Karl-Marx-Straße in Berlin | John Kamensky

Our question for you this week: Which famous square or boulevard would you like to see without a car and why? Send me your thoughts here.

LOCAL LIBRARY

— I was fascinated to read about land artist Michael Heizer Town project, a vast complex of outdoor structures and landmasses that has been built over the past 50 years in the Nevada desert; The Art Newspaper ran a story about the mile-long structure, which will open next week.

– Cars dominate adverts at most football stadiums, but this week I was delighted to read that Bundesliga side SC Freiburg, the home team in one of Germany’s greenest cities, reverses this trend. They have made the corporate bike rental group JobRad their exclusive mobility partner. The move aims to underline the team’s “passion for cycling” and motivate fans to travel sustainably.

— In an excellent interview with Mensagem de Lisboa, Ton Salvadó — ​​the man responsible for Barcelona’s first ‘super-islands’ — says that “eliminating cars from cities may be a utopia, but the world is guided by utopias”. In effect.

THANKS TO: Giovanna Coi, Wilhemine Preussen, Joshua Posaner, Laurenz Gehrke, Zia Weise, Pieter Haeck, Charlie Duxbury, my editor James Randersonand my producer Julia Poloni.

POLITICO’s Global Policy Lab is a collaborative journalism project seeking solutions to the challenges facing modern societies in a time of rapid change. Over the next few months, we’ll be hosting a conversation about how to make cities more livable and sustainable.

More… Aitor Hernandez-Morales

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