> Country: Austria
> Last updated: 07 November 2022Download PDF
In 2019, transport-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions represented 39.8% of total CO2 emissions in Austria, well above the share in the OECD area (24%). Austria aims to reduce carbon emissions from transport from around 24 million tonnes of CO2-eq (2019 levels) to close to zero by 2040. Road transport in Austria – a land-locked country – is by far the biggest emitter, accounting for nearly all transport-related emissions. The federal government therefore promotes public transport as a climate-friendly alternative to motorised individual transport and has invested massively in public transport infrastructure. According to Austria’s 2030 Mobility Master Plan, the country aims to reduce private car use by 16% by 2040. At the same time, the government intends to increase the share of public transport from 27% to 40% while doubling active traveling (walking and cycling) from 3-6%. However, the number of registered cars has steadily increased over the past decades, reaching about 5 million in 2019 compared to less than 3 million in 1990.
On 26 October 2021, the Austrian National Day, Austria introduced the nationwide “KlimaTicket” (Austria Climate Ticket). It offered almost unlimited public transport use across the country, with a single ticket for a full year. In total, the ticket costs EUR 1 095 per year for adults (EUR 3 per day) and EUR 821 for youth and seniors. A family ticket is also available. The climate ticket offers a simple and affordable mobility service, underlining the value of a streamlined ticketing system.
With the KlimaTicket, the federal government of Austria intends to explicitly contribute to reaching the Paris climate goals: “[t]he more you participate, the better it is for the climate.” The KlimaTicket is one of Austria’s key policies to incentivise the use of public transport. In parallel, the federal government is also investing in infrastructure development and the digitalisation of services to make public transport more attractive. The number of trains covering key lines from west to east has been increased; the train fleet has been modernised and the offer of night trains has been expanded.
Austria’s climate ticket is the result of two years of negotiations between the federal and regional governments, transport organisations and operators. As of January 2022, regional tickets have been introduced in all states (Länder).
Austria’s KlimaTicket gained more than 130 000 subscribers in the first two months of its existence. Until the end of June 2022, some 170 000 tickets were purchased; youth and senior tickets represented 28% and 13%, respectively. The coverage of all modes of public transport across the country makes KlimaTicket simple and inexpensive to use.
The climate ticket has helped induce behavioural change. While the large majority of subscribers have a driving licence, about two-thirds of surveyed customers indicated they were using public transport more frequently. Indeed, 85% have already replaced car journeys with public transport.
It is too early to conduct a full-fledged assessment of the impact and cost effectiveness of Austria’s KlimaTicket. However, the Austrian government has decided to maintain the initiative, underlining strong political will to pursue decarbonisation of the transport sector. The KlimaTicket has become Austria’s key policy measure to delivering net-zero transport.
Austria’s KlimaTicket helps promote a mind-set shift from heavily car-dependent systems to low-carbon transport modes. It encourages increased use of public transport by making the offer more attractive. In contrast to similar initiatives in other OECD countries, customers in Austria purchase a ticket for a full year. This makes the climate ticket particularly attractive for regular users. The more customers travel with public transport, the more they save money and contribute to reducing emissions. The annual nationwide ticket is thereby contributing to promoting long-term behavioural change.
The negotiation phase illustrates some of the difficulties in establishing a nationwide coverage. While about 50% of the population lives in the broader Vienna area with a dense public transport network, the southern areas of Austria face different transport challenges (fewer connections, limited availability). Geographical disparities between regions need to be addressed to establish a coherent, user-friendly offer for all customers across the country. This is more difficult for larger countries. Regional transport associations initially resisted to sign up for a nationwide deal and only agreed once they received some compensation from the federal state. In addition, all Länder introduced regional tickets as of January 2022.
As a next step, it will be important to further improve the quality of public transport services while strengthening and modernising networks and equipment. This should aim to make public transport a viable alternative for all types of customers: from low budget to high profile, in dense agglomerations and remote areas.