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U1 dispute settled soon, Winter promises

Wiener Linien co-chief Eduard Winter has revealed that the company and the city would agree in the near future about where the extended U1 line could end.

The Viennese government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and Greens are determined to extend the U1 underground line to the southern suburbs of the city in the coming years. Discussions about the project’s costs and conflicts with property owners in possible final stop destinations have kept delaying the project in the past years.

Now Winter – who took over at Wiener Linien in cooperation with Alexandra Reinagl in September 2011 – told the Kurier that a final decision would be made public "in the coming two weeks". Wiener Linien – which manages five U-Bahn underground lines, dozens of tramway connections and bus services – has 2.2 million passengers a day. It counted 839 million passengers last year, up sharply from 1990 (612 million passengers).

The U1 line is a key asset of Wiener Linien’s network since it helps tens of thousands of Favoriten district residents to get to work quickly every day. Favoriten in Vienna’s most populous district. The city’s government wants to get more of the many commuters coming to Vienna from rural regions to use the U1 line instead of their cars. An extension of the service could help convincing commuters of switching to public transport to lower fine dust and carbon emission levels as well as noise.

Apart from the unsolved question about where the U1’s final destination could be in the future, politicians are at odds over whether Vienna’s south needs new park & ride facilities. The issue of how much people should be charged for using such car parks is another aspect of the ongoing debate as Viennese and Lower Austrian decision-makers negotiate subsidisation initiatives.

District politicians fear that traffic in the streets of Favoriten could collapse this summer when the U1 will be put out of service between its current final stop of Reumannplatz and Stephansplatz station in the city centre for approximately seven weeks. Wiener Linien officials said repair works of the connection’s infrastructure were unavoidable. The public transport agency – which is subsidised by the city – is expected to expand its tram and bus services during that period to avoid chaos.

Wiener Linien is currently gearing up for an expected rise of passengers caused by the city coalition’s recent decision to offer annual passes for less. Using Wiener Linien’s services for one year costs 365 Euros from May instead of the current 449 Euros. At the same time, several other types of tickets will become more expensive.

Wiener Linien is nevertheless making arrangements for an increase of people on U-Bahn trains, trams and buses. Winter said today that it might take some time until his company benefited financially from a possible rise in passenger figures. Speaking to the Kurier, he pointed out that Wiener Linien must invest substantial sums at the same time.

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