09 Feb 2022, 13:24
Benjamin Wehrmann

Government lost track of billions of euros poured into public transport – German auditors

Clean Energy Wire

The federal government in Germany has to rethink its role in supporting public transport systems and change its approach from pouring money into new projects to instead creating lean and clear rules for the federal states to implement them, the country’s Court of Auditors (Bundesrechnungshof) has said. “Even though public transport is a task for the states, the federal government supports it with billions of euros every year. Often, these funds are not even used for public transport but remain untapped. In 2021, the government paid over 11.5 billion euros to the states, in addition to other support programmes, such as tax rebates. This cannot be accepted,” the court’s president, Kay Scheller, said. He argued the federal government’s payments to public transport are spread over several different programmes with their own rules, procedures, conditions and responsibilities. “The government is losing overview in this support labyrinth. This weakens public transport systems,” Scheller said. A federal public transport law and a coordination hub that bundles existing programmes could help remedy the situation, the auditors said. Currently, nobody would have a clear idea where the funds end up, meaning ill-designed programmes cannot be rectified easily.  The idea that “more money means fewer problems” would not work in the current framework, they concluded.

Public transport systems are a core element in the transport transition, a key project Germany must address to make progress on emissions reduction. The coronavirus pandemic has made many people hesitant to use public transport, pushing up the use of private cars.

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