Sustainable development in Germany - 17 Goals to Transform our World

Mobility – Guaranteeing mobility – protecting the environment

Indicator 11.2.c: Accessibility of medium-sized and large cities by public transport

SDG-11.2.1

Selection

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This overview includes additional information on the indicators presented above, such as a brief definition of the indicator and a description of the politically determined target value, as well as the political intention for selecting the indicator.

Definition of indicators (Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy)

The indicator shows population-weighted average travel times to the nearest medium-sized or major city by public transport.

Target and intention of the German Government (Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy)

Mobility is a key factor in enabling people to participate in society. Accordingly, urban development and transport should be designed to provide good mobility services and suitable connections to medium-sized or major cities for the entire population. Therefore, the goal of the German Government is to shorten the average amount of time it takes people to travel to their nearest medium-sized or major city by public transport.

Data state

The data published in the indicator report 2021 is as of 31.12.2020. The data shown on the DNS-Online-Platform is updated regularly, so that more current data may be available online than published in the indicator report 2021.

Last modification of code (data) 2021-03-01: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window
Last modification of code (text) 2021-09-09: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window

Taken from the official translation of the German Sustainable Development Strategy

The indicator is computed by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development. Public means of transport are defined as transport services that anyone can use on payment of the relevant fees. Flexible forms of operation, such as on-call buses that operate on demand without fixed stopping points and timetables, are not taken into account.

Comparing the indicator values for 2012 and 2018 shows that the population-weighted average travel time to the nearest medium-sized or major city fell from 23.5 to 21.9 minutes during that period. This equates to a reduction of 6.9%.

However, the number of medium-sized and major cities grew from 1,010 in 2012 to 1,109 in 2018. Much of this growth can be traced to the designation of additional urban centres as medium-sized cities in Bavaria.

It is beyond the purview of this report to assess whether that change of status reflects an actual improvement in the provision available in those cities. Nonetheless, the increase in medium-sized and major cities notably helped reduce the average travel time required to reach one.

If the average travel time for each reporting year is calculated on the basis of only those intermediate and major cities which existed in 2012, it is found to have decreased from 23.5 minutes in 2012 to 22.5 minutes in 2018. This equates to a reduction in travel time of only 4.3% in relation to 2012.

The data for these calculations were taken from the timetables of Deutsche Bahn, various networks and numerous other transport providers. With the help of the timetable data, the travel times to the nearest intermediate or major city during peak morning traffic times were determined for some 258,000 stops. This period is defined differently across the reporting years. Whereas connections with arrival times between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. were taken into account in 2012, the figures for 2016 and 2018 refer to connections with arrival times between 8 a.m and 12 noon.

Not least because not all local transport schedules had been fully incorporated into the database used, the values for the different reporting years cannot be compared without caveats. Therefore, the frequency of transport services to the nearest intermediate or major city is ignored, as is travel time to and from the stopping point. Furthermore, this indicator is based on timetable data – which means that delays or even cancellations are not taken into account.

The classification of an urban centre as a medium-size or major city is determined according to the availability of goods, services and infrastructure that are not available in the surrounding regional towns. These include, among other things, specialist medical practices, hospitals, cultural facilities as well as secondary schools and institutions of higher education. In each intermediate or major city, especially in large cities, only one location in the city centre was designated as the destination. The destination stops were selected within a radius of one kilometre around that destination point, and the quickest connection from each departure stop to that point was sought. A population-weighted average value of the travel time for Germany was then determined with the help of small-scale population data from the Federal Statistical Office.

This summary table illustrates the evaluations of the indicator by status of previous years. This shows whether the weather symbol for an indicator has been stable or rather volatile in the past years. (Evaluations from the indicator report 2021)

Indicator

11.2.c Accessibility of medium-sized and large cities by public transport

Target

Reduction of average travel time by public transport

Evaluation

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Source 1

 Federal Office for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development

Organisation

Federal Office for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development

Source 2

 Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Organisation

Institute for Energy and Environmental Research