Public Transport in Bielefeld (Germany) and Berne (Switzerland) since 1950: A comparative analysis of efficiency, effectiveness and political background

  • Ueli Haefeli Interface Policy Studies, Lucerne


The case studies of Berne and Bielefeld show two cities, that are in many regards quite comparable but with enormous differences in their transport sector. In the agglomeration of Berne 26% of all trips are made by public transport compared with only 15% in Bielefeld. This questions some of the well-established results of international comparative research on urban transport policies. Without denying the importance of land-use patterns and other often used explanations such as gas prices, income or car ownership, it seems obvious that these factors cannot sufficiently explain why transport systems in Berne and Bielefeld differ so much. More attention should be paid to historical and institutional explanations. The case studies show that the most important decisions for the development and efficiency of the future transport sector were made in the mid 60s, years before the so-called “environmental turn” of 1970. External incentives to build costly and inefficient infrastructure were much stronger in Bielefeld, with the result that the uncovered costs per ride were several times higher than in Berne in 1995. These results underline the importance of comparative in-depth case studies of urban transport policy.

How to Cite
HAEFELI, Ueli. Public Transport in Bielefeld (Germany) and Berne (Switzerland) since 1950. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 3, sep. 2005. ISSN 1567-7141. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 jan. 2021. doi: