08.02.2022  |   Special Report

Need for streamlining federal funding of local public transport

© Kzenon/stock.adobe.com

The more, the better? “Not really, the funds also have to be spent effectively and systematically”, said Kay Scheller, President of the German SAI, when he communicated a special report on federal funding of local public transport to German parliament and the federal government. And he urges to fundamentally streamline the complex funding in a uniform public transport act. “Simple, clear rules and responsibilities would make the federal funds more effective – for an attractive, efficient and climate-friendly local public transport”.

Federal funds for local public transport on the rise

For a number of years, the federal funds for public transport have been rising. The statutory federal grants awarded to the federal states will increase to up to €13.2 billion per year exclusively from the two most important financial instruments until 2030. The states, however, call for even more federal funds.

Need for streamlining federal funding of local public transport

Core problem: financial intertwining of government and federal states

As a rule, local public transport falls in the remit of the federal states. But at the same time, the federal government increases its share and pays more than the states in the meantime. Due to the shared federal and state government funding, transparency and efficiency are often lacking. However, the federal government does not want to disentangle the situation. On the contrary: the government intends to even increase its share in funding the local public transport.

Government lost track of funding

Statutory benefits, support programmes and model projects, tax relief, COVID-19 bonuses: funding public transport has become complex and opaque. The government does not even know exactly the total amount it spends on public transport.

Need for streamlining federal funding of local public transport

We recommend streamlining the funding of public transport fundamentally

We recommend that funding of public transport be streamlined and laid down in a uniform public transport act. This is the only way for the government to coordinate its measures and to evaluate whether the funds are used effectively and efficiently with regard to the targets of transport and climate policy.