Vienna's path to sustainable transport

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, mode - car, policy - sustainable, policy - parking, land use - planning, planning - surveys


Car dependence, cycling, politics, public transport, sustainable transport, walking


Vienna, Austria reduced the car share of trips by a third between 1993 and 2014: from 40% to 27%. The key to Vienna's success has been a coordinated package of mutually reinforcing transport and land-use policies that have made car use slower, less convenient, and more costly, while improving conditions for walking, cycling, and public transport. During 32 in-person interviews in Vienna in May 2015, a wide range of politicians, transport planners, and academics almost unanimously identified the expansion of the U-Bahn (metro) and parking management as the most important policies accounting for the reduction in car mode share since 1993. Implementation of sustainable transport policies in Vienna has been a long-term, multi-staged process requiring compromises, political deals, and coalition-building among political parties and groups of stakeholders. This consensual approach to policy development has been time-consuming. Vienna has not been the first city to introduce any particular policy, but it has masterfully adopted successful policies from other cities. The continuity of social democratic governments in Vienna since 1945 has provided a crucial political basis for long-term implementation. The Greens have vigorously pushed for accelerating implementation of sustainable transport policies since becoming part of the ruling coalition government in 2010. The progressive political environment in Vienna has been essential to its increasingly sustainable transport system. Other major cities in Western Europe have also reduced the share of trips by car since 1990. Together with Vienna, they provide useful lessons for other cities throughout the world on how to reduce car dependence.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.