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Municipal companies

Motivation for the mobility change

25.November 2021

Municipal companies make an indispensable contribution towards modern mobility. They are the driving force of the energy and transport turnaround – through the production of clean energy, exhaustive supply infrastructures, modern vehicle fleets and user-friendly mobility services. Reliable framework conditions are necessary to ensure that it stays that way.

Focus on multimodality: A bicycle parking garage at Offenburg railway station. © TBO

Focus on multimodality: A bicycle parking garage at Offenburg railway station. © TBO

Networked - both in the city and in the country

Municipal companies are already offering smart and climate-friendly mobility services today and are relying more and more on alternative drives for their fleets - with an upward trend. In this way, new mobility hubs are arising on the outskirts of city centres or at railway stations enabling the public to opt for alternatives to their own cars and charging options for a fast "refuelling". In new and old districts smart mobility is becoming an integral part of the planning. The municipal fleet is becoming greener and tours are planned in a smart way. One example comes from Offenburg: Car sharing, a bicycle rental system and safe parking places for commuters directly at the bus stations – the Technische Betriebe Offenburg (TBO) is setting up a mobility network across its city.

The capital city is also betting on "orange on the outside, green inside": A large portion of the over 1,700 vehicles of the Berliner Stadtreinigungsbetrieben AöR (BSR/city cleaning company) are equipped with alternative drives. Furthermore, money is being invested in road safety. All vehicles over 7.5 t are fitted with turning assistant systems. In addition to the top qualifications of the professional drivers, this makes a further contribution towards added safety when turning off streets in Berlin's busy traffic.

One thing is clear: Access to climate-friendly and affordable mobility shouldn't be a question of where one lives. Mobility means self-determination and is also an expression and an essential component of personal independence for many people, for the economy mobility is the elixir of life. That is why simple access to fuel stations and charging stations, sharing offers or attractive local transport is also important for rural areas.

The Technische Werke Schussental is a good example of a mobility platform in a rural area. The online platform "tws.mobil" offers various services such as local transport offers, e-bike/car sharing and charging stations as well as networking industrial and commercial fleets. In addition to the mobility components, users groups, services and products are also connected with the aim of encouraging above all commuters to switch over from using motorised personal means of transport to more environmentally-friendly transport means. The Technische Werke Schussental was distinguished with the Mobility special prize in the scope of the VKU Innovation Prize 2021 for this project.

Climate-friendly driving, refuelling and parking

From the garbage truck to special utility vehicles: The municipal companies take to the streets every day with a large fleet for the safe provision and waste disposal of the public and industry, both in the city and in the country - which is why it is all the more important that the vehicles are climate-friendly. Because these vehicles don't come off the peg, the purchasing and refitting them with alternative drives and the necessary changes to the infrastructure and companies should be supported.

More and more municipal companies are also offering smart and clean mobility services for individual transport. The focus is on electromobility: The search is on for charging stations that one can use to refuel one's car with green electricity. Around half of the 43,000 charging stations in Germany (Status as of 09/2021, Source: Federal Network Agency) are operated by municipal utility companies. In addition, more and more hydrogen fuelling stations are arising - in Wuppertal, Mainz or Nienburg even supplied with self-produced green hydrogen.

Municipal companies also help avoid traffic in the city centres caused by people searching for parking spots: In several cities such as Cologne, Trier or Andernach, the municipal companies insert sensors into the tarmac, which measure whether a parking spot is occupied or not. Using an app in the car, the driver can find a free parking spot fast. However, the search for a parking spot is just the start: Intelligent traffic control systems will make traffic jams rarer, which will not only save costs, times, nerves - but above all CO2. The same applies for intelligent sensors in garbage bins. They signal when the bin has to be emptied and the route planning can be adapted accordingly. This especially saves unnecessary journeys and CO2 in the country.

The mobility network of the future

A mobility network comprises of more than the streets and cars: A mobility network moves people and goods - in a clean, safe and smart way.

The access to new mobility is being promoted via experienceable offers and services: A visible fuelling and charging infrastructure, apps for planning mobility chains or cars with alternative drives and vehicles such as e-scooters in sharing pools.

The infrastructure planning is a challenge for mobility providers, municipalities and the energy sector. For example, we can master the electromobility if every municipality develops a custom-fit charging infrastructure strategy - together with all of the players and in connection with an holistic concept for districts. The best example: The Stegerswald housing estate in Cologne Mühlheim. Rheinenergie has realised an innovative concept here for the climate-friendly heat and electricity provision, estate management, electromobility, smart homes and fast fibreglass internet connections for around 700 housing units. The project is also a role model for the collaboration between the municipal players and for example the housing industry. Together they can determine the most suitable locations for mobility offers and charging stations. Such cooperations should be promoted in a targeted manner because they are decisive for the economical, efficient development. The planning of the charging and mobility hubs can be supported by (electro) mobility managers in the municipalities, as is already the case in North Rhine-Westphalia for instance. They keep an eye on everything: from the development in demand in the municipalities through to the network requirements.

Nothing happens if it doesn't happen on-site

How the climate goals of the German government and of the EU can be achieved is always decided by the implementation on-site. Because the supply and demand vary depending on the geographical location. It makes a difference whether thinly populated, rural spaces, industrial or commercial regions or a major city have to be supplied. The demands in the amount and type of provision are different everywhere. In order to progress on the way towards climate-friendly and affordable mobility, municipal companies need good framework conditions. Instead of opening the doors up to companies picking the cherries out, the politicians should demand a reliable basic provision and assist the municipalities with the planning by providing suitable resources. Sustainable mobility is imperative for improved climate protection, which is why the focus of the politics of a new German government and also at EU level quite rightly lies here.

Ingbert Liebing

Ingbert Liebing

Ingbert Liebing

Ingbert Liebing gained initial municipality-related political experiences in the 80s and 90s after completing a degree in Politics. From 1996 to 2005 he was the full-time Mayor of the municipality East Sylt. In 2013, he was elected as Federal Chairman of the local political union of the CDU/CSU. From 2005 to 2017 he was a member of the German Parliament and in the last election period before joining the State Government of Schleswig-Holstein, he was local spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. Ingbert Liebing has been Chief Executive Officer of the Verband kommunaler Unternehmen e.V. (VKU/Association of Municipal Companies) since 1 April 2020.

The Verband kommunaler Unternehmen (VKU/ Association of municipal companies) represents over 1,500 municipal utility companies in the sections energy, water/waste water, waste management and telecommunications. With over 283,000 employees, a turnover of around 123 billion Euros was made and more than Euro 13 billion invested in 2019. For further information visit www.vku.de.

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