In Berlin, buses and trains will continue to run at night despite possible curfew restrictions. A spokesman for Transport Senator Regine Günther (Greens) said this when asked. The nationwide emergency brake decided on Thursday provides for an automatic curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. at a seven-day incidence of more than 100.
"In Berlin, there are so far no comparable considerations as in Hamburg," said Jan Thomsen. Several major German cities have suspended public transportation at night because of curfew restrictions in place there.
In Hamburg, there has already been almost no service at night since April 9. Between 0:30 and 4:30 a.m., there are no night buses and no subways or commuter trains. The exception is an S-Bahn line to the surrounding area.
Üstra in Hanover has suspended nighttime operations on weekends - until May 9.
Cologne's public transport authority said: "In view of the curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. decided by the city's crisis management team, night transport will be cancelled between 1:15 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and between 1:15 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. on Saturday."
This does not threaten Berlin. "From our point of view, public transport is a task of public service," Thomsen said, explaining that "night traffic is far from being just party traffic. Passengers of the night traffic are quite substantially sick and nursing personnel or other professionals in shift operation, which must go also at Corona times to work."
BVG also argues identically internally. It is mainly people with low incomes who have to go to work at night, he said. "These work routes have to work even with curfew restrictions," Thomsen said.
However, the Hamburg Transport Association (HVV) also guarantees these employees a ride to work - they can use cabs or the citywide HVV ride service Moia, comparable to the Berlkönig, at no extra cost. This applies to "people who have to be on the road between midnight. and 6 a.m. for professional or other important reasons." The only requirement is a valid ticket. The HVV is the second-largest transport association in Germany after the Berlin-Brandenburg Transport Association (VBB).
All German transport companies are currently facing the same dilemma: on the one hand, passenger numbers have fallen dramatically, but on the other hand, services should not be reduced so that the remaining vehicles do not become too full. For this reason, Berlin recently expanded BVG's school transport services with additional buses and streetcars - paid for by the state. Revenues are falling, and expenses are tending to rise.
For this reason, the transport administration is examining "whether smaller buses could also be useful on some routes," said Thomsen. This is currently being coordinated with BVG. So far, however, there have been no changes. Swapping articulated buses for single-deckers would not save on personnel, however. The lower fuel costs would be used up again by additional operating trips.
Photo by Stefan Widua