The local and regional public passenger transport services in Austria

A well-functioning local and regional transport system is increasingly considered, in terms of various social aspects, to be an indispensable part of an orderly existence. In order to meet the requirements of a well functioning system new types of cooperation, in the form of integrated local and regional public transport alliances, have been introduced over the last decades.

Integrated transport alliances

An integrated transport alliance (Verkehrsverbund) offers the passenger, under application of a uniform tariff system, the benefit of a joint ticket at a discounted rate ("network rate") covering all involved scheduled transport operators (rail, public and private bus operators, and municipal transport companies).

Overall, there are currently eight such integrated transport alliances in Austria that from the territory covered mostly align with the federal state boundaries.

The integrated transport alliances in Austria include for example:

Transport Alliance - Eastern Region (VOR)

Covers Vienna and the surrounding areas of Lower Austria and northern Burgenland and is both the oldest (since 3 June 1984) and largest Austrian transport alliance (approx. 2.4 million inhabitants).

The legal basis for the organization of the ÖPNRV

Austrian Federal Law concerning the organization of local and regional public transport (Öffentlicher Personennah- und Regionalverkehrsgesetz 1999 – ÖPNRV-G 1999).

Publication reference: Austrian Federal Law Gazette No. 204/1999.

This federal law, which has been in-force since 1 January, 2000, regulates in addition to the organization especially the financial basis for the operation of the ÖPNRV in Austria.

Note: The scope of this Federal Law covers the operation of the local and regional public transport systems and not their infrastructures.

ÖPNRV-G 1999, english verision

Organization of the integrated transport alliances

Legal form

Integrated transport alliances in Austria are cooperative institutions by virtue of private law contracts between the (alliance financing) authorities on the one hand (so-called: basic and financing agreements) and the regional authorities and the individual transport companies on the other hand (so-called transport services contracts for the specific order processes).

The transport companies participating in the respective transport alliance may be organized into a cooperative association of transport companies, which is then responsible for the implementation of the alliance measures.

The transport alliance organization company set-up in the respective transport alliance serves as an intermediary between the alliance financing authorities and the involved transportation companies. It also acts as the central payment clearinghouse, performs enterprise-wide planning and issues orders for services, especially for buses, under mandate to the regional authorities.

The Austrian transport alliance interest group (IGV) is a loose association of all transport alliance organization companies, together with the representatives of the financing authorities and the urban transport companies and is to be understood as a discussion and advisory body.

Pricing plan

The fare is based on a tariff model of the respective transport alliance, whereby two different models are available in Austria:

  • Station model
  • Zone or Honeycomb model

Task assignment

Federal Government

Pursuant to Section 7 of the ÖPNRV G-1999, it is a basic function of the Federal Government (specifically the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology [BMK]) to ensure that a basic range of public and regional transport is made available.

Note: This is performed through the conclusion of transport service contracts with the individual rail passenger transport companies concerning provision of public services (by the Federal Government).

Because the Regulation (EC) No. 1370/2007 ("PSO"), concerning public payments made within the framework of the operation of local and regional passenger transport services, required increased transparency then it became necessary to completely renew or remodel the relevant contractual agreements.

To ensure maximum quality and high customer satisfaction for "rail travel" a special quality management system including control instruments was installed in addition to an exact distance-based financing system.

Ordering of rail passenger transport public services (by the Federal Government):

Private law agreements (“transport service contracts”) with maximum durations of ten years concluded with the individual rail passenger transport companies within the framework of a direct award according to PSO.

End of the contract period

Transport service contracts - ÖBB: 31.12.2019
Transport service contracts - Private rail companies: 31.12.2020

Main contents of the transport service contracts

  • Changing the system from a predominately fare ordering one to a service ordering system.
  • Subdivision into 59 lots (sub-services) for the local and regional rail passenger transport system (ÖBB and Private rail companies) and 14 lots (sub-services) for the long distance rail passenger transport system (7 of which are within the public service sector).
  • Ordering of approx. 77 million scheduled kilometres by the federal government (equivalent to approx. 88 percent of Austria's basic supply).
  • Determination of concrete timetables and train compositions.
  • Inclusion of monitoring and sanction possibilities.
  • Implementation of quality management systems (“Bonus-Malus“- System).
  • Over-compensation checks to be performed by financial auditors.
  • Possibility to terminate partial lots (term of notice to be at least 24 months from the last timetable change).
  • Possibility of vehicle transfer in the case of termination of partial lots.

Regional authorities (Federal states / Municipalities)

According to Sections 11 and 13 of ÖPNRV G-1999, the federal states and municipalities are responsible for the planning of demand-orientated bus services as well as the ordering of rail passenger services beyond the basic level in accordance with Section 7 ÖPNRV G-1999.

Federal government funding (for the operation of the ÖPNRV)

Transport department (“BMK“)

  • Public services for rail passenger transport companies.
  • Payments made to rail passenger transport companies within the framework of their transport service contracts for services that otherwise can not be performed economically.

Integrated transport alliances

Payments made to the transport companies, in respect of providing a discounted tariff for the customers ("network rate"), to compensate for the resulting revenue losses.

Student discounts

  • Subsidies provided for special student tickets in the integrated transport alliances.
  • Orderer funding (according to Section 24 Para. 2 and 26 Para. 3 of the ÖPNRV-G 1999)

Payments made by regional authorities in respect of transport services and especially for bus services, whereby depending on the budgetary cover available individual projects may be subsidized by up to a third of the annual costs.

Other funding made available by the Federal Government

Family Compensation Fund

Payments made by the Ministry responsible for families to finance free travel for students and apprentices within the respective integrated transport alliances.

Financial compensation

Contributions made by the Ministry of Finance to the Federal States and Municipalities, as well as funding provided for the purpose of the ÖPNRV taken from the mineral oil tax.