What Berlin Does Well in Urban Mobility
Berlin's public transit system is known for its diverse and multimodal selection of transit options that are affordable, widely accessible, and easily navigated by the city's residents via the integrated VBB app. Affordable transit fares are, in part, due to the national government’s new Deutschland Ticket, which lets commuters use any and all local mass transit offerings for roughly $52 per month. Berlin finishes in the top 10 in the public transit and sustainable mobility sub-indices.
With an emphasis on active mobility infrastructure like car-free zones for pedestrians, Berlin has one of the highest pedestrian modal shares in the Index. Berlin’s 2030 climate plan calls for allocating more than $200 million to expand existing cycling infrastructure.
Urban Mobility Readiness Index, Sustainable Mobility and Public Transit scores
Challenges and Opportunities for Berlin’s Transportation System
Despite a strong and affordable public transit system, Berlin suffers from low ridership. Berlin's sizable sprawl often presents a challenge to residents looking to take public transit as low station density makes for longer and less convenient commutes. One of Berlin’s public transit operators partnered with a tech firm in 2022 to launch an on-demand public transport offering, which may help residents more easily connect to transit hubs.
Berlin lags behind many of its European counterparts in its effort to incentivize electric vehicle (EV) uptake, with relatively few available charging stations and a lower market share of EV sales. At the end of 2022, the European Commission approved a nearly $2 billion German plan to deploy 8,500 fast charging points across 900 locations nationwide that may include Berlin.
Dimensions of the Urban Mobility Readiness Index score
How Berlin Can Improve Its Public Transportation and Sustainable Mobility
While Berlin is home to a strong public transit system, some residents are faced with long walks to stations. To improve station density and encourage ridership, the city can add more stops along its existing bus and tram routes — a cost effective improvement that would drive benefit for its residents. Adding bus lines is another relatively simple solution to reach underserved areas of the city. In the long run, adding new metro stations will be key to building out their public transit offering, but that effort will be a timely and expensive undertaking. A planned extension of its rapid transit system would demonstrate progress.
Berlin's EV charging network is underdeveloped compared to its peers. To offer a world-class charging network like Amsterdam’s, it would need to accelerate the deployment of charging stations to multiply its charging station density by a factor of 14. The city can target this gap by introducing city-level incentives, expanding on existing federal government-backed investments in public charging stations, and subsidizing at home station implementation.