Due to changing political and financial conditions, the public transport system faces massive changes. For this reason, political institutions, planning units and transportation companies must review the today's system and track down the political and financial options for the future development. The Wuppertal Institute analysized the sustainable economic structures for public transport which are the vital basis for the future development of public transport in rural areas, in small and middle sized towns.
Public transport in rural areas faces the problem that services do not cover expenses and have to be largely financed by public funds. But on the other hand, public transport is of social and economical importance especially in areas of weak demand. In those regions transport services guarantee individual mobility and furthermore, they are important employers.
The analysis focussed on the evaluation of the economic sustainability of additional transport services comprising low capacity supply, mobility information services and car sharing as well as analyses of good-practice and the sysnthesis of results on various workshops.
The methodological approach was a comprehensive one, including, besides a cost-benefit analysis on the basis of the available data, the elaboration of interdependencies within the systems and analysing the qualitative assessment. The analysis of economic sustainablitity entailed specific knowledge on the potentials and obstacles for the implementation of certain additional services, as well as an integrated knowledge on problems and perspectives of public transport in rural areas, small and middle-sized towns.
The results show that flexible bus systems are cost-efficient alternatives for a regular bus-service although they require public funding, too - incidentially, the same result followed from an analysis of good-practices in Europe. Car sharing as an alternative mobility option should be operated in cooperation with professional organisations. In view of the range of different products, mobility information and a specific marketing are necessary. However, co-operative solutions should be preferred in order to reduce investments.