The average age of the BVG’s vehicles is nearly 30 years and Nikutta says, that’s a problem. “We need hundreds of millions for new vehicles.
“No company in the world is able to earn the money for the vehicle and for infrastructure by passengers; that’s not possible.”
Nikutta says, “We want to be in the black by 2016 because it’s not good when a company is not able to sustain, to earn her cost, even if the situation is very special in passenger transport business.
“Nevertheless, we must earn our own cost and then we can be independent from all of the politicians and all of the discussions.” She continues, “If you are dependent on the politicians, we have a problem because the politicians are not dependable with the money because every four or five years they change. You can’t run a company depending on these four or five years; that’s why we must get independent.”
Like other agencies, BVG is doing more with less and looks for ways to save money and to make money. Nikutta says there are some logical things to earn more money, such as getting more passengers in the system in the same amount of vehicles. “We don’t want to use more vehicles; we want to use capacity.” She also says, “The company used to spend money for things that are not really needed and it’s my job to find those.”
Maintaining reliability is important to the customers, and it is important to BVG. For punctuality, the underground is at 97 percent, the tram system at 91 percent and the bus is at 85 percent. Nikutta points out the bus system is much lower in punctuality than other modes due to congestion on the streets.
To keep things running on time and to keep riders up to date with the latest information, BVG uses a variety of technology. RBL is a computer-assisted operations control system that is used for a wide range of tasks, primarily information and communication links between vehicles and control centers; computer-assisted service operations; and passenger information in trains, buses, at stops and stations, via mobile and Internet.
The dynamic information system, DAISY, is used by BVG to provide passengers at stops and stations with information in imminent departures. “The relevant computer-assisted operations control system provides DAISY with the positions of the vehicles,” Nikutta explains. “DAISY then calculates the departure times and presents them on electronic displays. When a vehicle is due to depart, the destination text flashes.”
She continues, “Once it has left, the display line is deleted and another future departure moves up into the display. The bottom line of the display can be used to show general information as scrolling text. It is also possible to use the entire display for special text, such as information on service interruptions or construction work.” BVG also has apps with their service information and next year, will include real-time data. With the use of QR codes, they currently have real-time data information access at every bus stop.
Sustainability at BVG
BVG is a signatory for the UITP’s Sustainability Charter and environmentally friendly practices are important. Of the passengers transported, 63.9 percent are by electric and 36.1 percent by diesel.
In Berlin, private transportation is responsible for about 15 percent of all CO2 emissions. The BVG’s services are responsible for only about 2 percent of all CO2 emissions.
Currently BVG is testing hydrogen internal combustion engines in its buses for reliability and efficiency. “BVG is among the early adopters in the field of hydrogen and started gaining experience as early as January 2006 as part of the EU-funded HyFLEET:CUTE project,” Nikutta explains. Since then, four single-decker buses equipped with suction — naturally aspirated — engines have been into service.
“The logistics, handling and productivity of gaseous hydrogen as a fuel are being tested under the tough, realistic conditions of Berlin city traffic, thereby gaining much important knowledge for the reliable and economical use of alternative propulsion systems in urban public transport.”