Information on the accompanying scientific research

SWU – free public transport (ÖPNV) in Ulm

Information on the accompanying scientific research


The ever-increasing presence of cars in cities leads to more and more congestion as well as air and noise pollution, among other things. It also takes up a lot of space. It is therefore vital to strengthen local public transport as a means for more sustainable urban mobility. The Institute of Sustainable Corporate Management at Ulm University is thus investigating whether temporarily free local public transport can be an effective measure in this regard.

 In the city area of Ulm and Neu-Ulm, local transport has been offered free of charge on Saturdays since April 2019 as a measure to make local public transport more attractive and to lower entry barriers for inexperienced public transport users. The accompanying scientific research evaluates the measure both in terms of changes in passenger volume and the traffic behaviour of individual groups of people. 

In addition to the short-, medium- and long-term analysis of the passenger numbers, more than 4000 passengers on trams and buses in Ulm were surveyed in September and October. The aim of the survey was to obtain information on mobility characteristics and how the free public transport offer affects past and future usage patterns. The research results are also used to assess whether free public transport has an influence on the volume of motorised private transportation on Saturdays.

Previous research work on free local public transport has mostly concentrated on permanent service variants. In cities such as Tallinn, Templin, Brussels or Hasselt, different forms of free public transport have already been studied. However, Ulm's free public transport on Saturdays only is a first in the context of free local public transport models. Initial results of the accompanying research will be published in spring 2020.