Bürgerbus

Method

Advising and supporting citizens’ engagement for mobility

The so-called Bürgerbus (people’s or citizens’ bus is a volunteer service provided by actively engaged citizens in areas where public transportation is limited or does not meet the needs of the people. The busses are a response to changing conditions in rural areas, which have led to longer commuting distances for locals.

A Bürgerbus establishes a regular bus connection for a particular region and is run by volunteers. The nexus Institute has experience helping over 30 different Bürgerbus projects and can bring its expertise in to support and advise new projects in order to ensure a service which will exactly meet the needs of the region. We provide support in every step of the project from the initial idea to the first ride: This includes advising on legal, financial, geographic, and social questions as well as the conception, moderation, and supervision of the necessary information sessions. 

Bürgerbus at a Glance:

  • Mobility service in rural areas
  • Mobility through citizen’s engagement and participation
  • Advising and support of Bürgerbus
  • A support structure that has been tested in over 30 different Bürgerbus projects
  • Advising and support from the initial phase through information sessions and communications work

Literature

Jansen, H.; Schué, M. (2015): Die kleine oder die große Lösung für den Bürgerbus? Bürgerbusse und Rechtsgrundlagen nach dem PBefG. In: Der Nahverkehr, Ausgabe 7-8/2015. DVV Media Group/Alba-Fachmedien ÖPNV. S. 36-40.

Jansen, H.; Schiefelbusch, M. (2013): Gemeinschaftsaufgabe Bürgerbus. Erfahrungen mit ehrenamtlichem Engagement in Rheinland-Pfalz. In: Der Nahverkehr, Ausgabe 9/2013. Alba Fachverlag, Düsseldorf. S. 46 - 49.

References

Advising and supervision of many different People’s Bus projects within the Projekt Bürgerbusse Rheinland-Pfalz for the Ministerium des Innern, für Sport und Infrastruktur Rheinland-Pfalz, since 2010

Advising and supervision of the Bürgerbus Homberg (Efze), for Herbert Quandt-Stiftung and Landesstiftung „Miteinander in Hessen“, 2015-2016 

Mobikult - Entwicklung einer nachhaltigen Mobilitätskultur in ländlichen Regionen Brandenburgs, 2005-2007

IMPULS 2005 - neue Gemeinschaftsverkehre in der Region, 2005

Details

The Bürgerbus has been implemented in many federal states throughout Germany since the mid-1980s (Jansen, Schiefelbusch 2013). The following three elements are characteristic of a Bürgerbus: Citizen engagement is on a volunteer basis, bus drivers and other active participants are not paid, and the bus route is planned according to local need.

The Bürgerbus is an answer to changing conditions in rural areas, by which small communities are particularly affected. Schools, doctor’s offices, clinics, administration offices, stores, post offices, banks, and cultural programs are generally located in larger, more central towns. Especially elderly people who can no longer drive long distances themselves need a way of accessing these essential services.

Establishing a Bürgerbus that satisfies these needs and uses the resources of a local community requires a support system. The nexus Institute’s years of experience uniquely qualifies us to provide advising and support from the initial phase through the information and participation activities in the development phase, to the first bus ride. It is essential for the success of the Bürgerbus that legal, geographic, social, and financial conditions are taken into account. For example, because busses can work within or outside of the framework of the Public Transport Act (Personenbeförderungsgesetz) the pros and cons need to be considered carefully. Geographic considerations include questions of service area and the question of whether a route should be established or if the service should be on-call. A social consideration would be whether and how many volunteers can be found to run the service. Questions of finance are dependant on local and regional circumstances (for example, whether the community can use public funds to finance the vehicle).

It can take between six months and one year from the initial idea to having an operating bus service, depending on local conditions (politics, interest level, and citizen engagement). The number of users is an essential indicator of the success of Bürgerbus projects. In many locations, demand for the service steadily increases after an initial, introductory phase. The susutainability of such services has been tested in many forms across many regions.