Thursday, 29 December 2011

Public transport at Christmas: the Austrian way.

A letter in the Guardian despairs of our Christmas/New Year public transport arrangements and asks if it is done differently in Europe. I can say from personal experience that, yes, it is. When I lived in Austria we enjoyed brilliant public transport. Christmas Eve is the most important part of Christmas in Austria and there was no problem going to my Austrian in-laws for the celebration by tram - and getting back the same evening. South Eastern, of course, stopped services early on 24th December this year and ran none at all on Boxing Day. If memory serves trams didn’t run on Christmas Day but there was a full service on Boxing Day in Vienna.

New Year’s Eve is much bigger in Austria than it is here. The City of Vienna would put on extra trams throughout the night to ensure revellers didn’t get into cars after drinking – and the trams were free after midnight for that one night. That’s what you call real joined up policy making – not the short sighted keep-costs-down parsimony that passes for public transport policy in this country. 

We could learn a lot from our continental neighbours – if we weren’t so busy trying to isolate ourselves from them as Cameron did with his veto.

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