A solution for a region
Flagship project Wälderbahn
Martin Assmann is responsible for urban and transport planning in Dornbirn. Sieditor, Birke Müller, spoke with him about the much-discussed city cable car project Wälderbahn. Si: The flagship project Wälderbahn was introduced to the public last August. Opinions on the project vary both among politicians and residents. What do you, as an urbanist, say?
Martin Assmann: It is a remarkable project. It addresses an issue that has long been the subject of discussions. The traffic issue was already raised and various approaches sought in the 2005 traffic concept. The idea of building a railway, which would definitely have had a certain charm to it, was considered at that point. And then last year, the cable car project was presented. It is good to consider all options and assess their feasibility.
What is the current integrated transport system in Dornbirn and the Bregenzerwald like? We have a very well-developed public transport system with very short intervals. There are city buses, altogether 12 lines, providing closely synchronized connections between individual city districts, some running as often as every 10 minutes. Then there are suburban- railway-type trains, as well as long-distance buses operating within, or interconnecting, regions such as Rheintal or Bregenzerwald with their 23 municipalities and around 30,000 people.
Every day there are traffic jams. Commuters from Bregenzerwald need a long time to get to their work or homes. Don’t you think using a cable car would be an ideal way to get from Bersbuch to Dornbirn in a comfortable, environmentfriendly way and without traffic jams? Yes, it is true that we have a lot of commuters and there are some critical places where one always gets stuck.
But I believe the traffic situation in the center of the city is not so bad. A cable car would be a good solution provided that its frequency was high enough. This would have to be carefully examined, of course.
Do you believe that urban cableways eventually prevail here in Europe and what do you see as the greatest obstacle to their implementation?
As I said, the frequency has to be right and I think that tourism is another key aspect. For example, Dornbirn is not a typical tourist destination. If people are to use the cable car, the most important thing is to have as many stations as possible. I believe that the biggest obstacle to using a cable car as a means of transport is that people are somewhat lazy.
If they have to change several times and perhaps even wait for the next means of transport for a long while, their willingness to use public transport falls. Would you personally use the cable car? I am lucky enough to both live and work in Dornbirn so this question does not really apply to me. But my wife’s family lives in Bregenzerwald.
If we decided to go visit them, we could take the cable car, of course, but then we‘d have to be picked up in Bersbuch or take a bus from there. I am not sure that I would be willing to do that. Although the panorama view would definitely be fantastic! What do the residents say about this visionary project? It is always the subject of discussions in the circle of my acquaintances and colleagues.
There are all kinds of opinions about it but I think the first thing to be done is to examine the project very carefully and then commission a feasibility study. And that’s what the province needs to do now. More information and opinions at www. wälderbahn.at