every day we are reading news about the newest technological innovations, electric cars, electric scooters, hyperloop, the trips to the Moon and to Mars. Yet we aren’t aware that we have more urgent issues. That’s not an environmental issue but one concerning infrastructure.
Munich is having a diarrhea.
Now you are asking yourselves, why diarrhea?
Let me explain you.
Every day more than 400,000 commuters are arriving and leaving Munich. The numbers are huge because they all are coming from the nearer surroundings such as Dachau, Freising and Fürstenfeldbruck but also from far away such as Pfaffenhofen, Ingolstadt, Augsburg and Donauwörth.
Why is that happening and how could that happen, that Munich is not only the capital of Bavaria but also of commuters.
I am going to number some interesting points to show you where the problems are.
- Workplaces in the Metropolitan
- City Planning Failure
- Mass Media Hype
Workplaces in the Metropolitan
Let’s start with workplaces in the metropolitan.
We are shuttling to work into the city every day and that is bad in many factors. We are wasting valuable hours of our lifetime time going to work instead of being at home with family. The valuable time can be saved if the workspaces are not located in the city center but in the rural areas. There, the housing is much more affordable, and the commuting costs and time are significantly lower.
A good example is Microsoft’s move from Unterschleißheim to Schwabing, which is almost the city center. Because additional 2,000 employees are commuting to the center every day now.
Relocation of companies
I must say that smaller companies belong to the city and corporate companies with more than 500 employees should move out of the city to reduce the city congestion and improve the rural area economics. In this way it is a win-win situation. Smaller companies can flourish in the city because they need customers. Big ones, which are mostly IT-companies in the rural areas pay less taxes and they allow their employees to have a great work-life balance because of the reduced shuttling time and the affordable housing in the surrounding area.
Fortunately, the concept is already rolling out. The relocation of authorities has been started a couple of years ago to strengthen the rural areas and to cool down the urban congestion. The statistics department of the Bavarian Government and the Upper Palatinate Office for Rural Development are one of the administration departments which has started with the move. They are moving to Fürth and Tirschenreuth. I have been to Tirschenreuth many times because my grandmother lives there. I am surprised how much the city has flourished. In the beginning of the Information Age there was a huge migration into cities, but now young people are coming back to find good work and affordable housing.
City Planning Failure
That’s a small step and it can be done much better with city planning. There is a failure with city planning. You know everybody can build but not everybody can plan. Building is an action but planning requires thinking.
Building versus Planning
Some of you have heard of the building process of the 2nd trunk line for the suburban train to reduce delays. That won’t work, we will still get delays, because we always build first, then plan the time schedule. Swiss trains are always at time because they plan the time schedule and then they decide whether the construction of new train infrastructure is required or not. In my opinion, they should rather focus more on creating public transportation-only streets to reduce car traffic because Munich is not built for cars.
Everybody can build but not everybody can plan. Building is an action but planning requires thinking.
Another problem is the housing in Munich. Building new houses with small apartments harms existing and potential residents because it causes rising rents and real estate costs. Did you know that Munich is the first choice in Germany for foreign investors? They also cause the real estate prices to rise and it intensifies the housing shortage because they often buy the whole building complexes to compete with private buyers. It means that more and more people are forced to move out of Munich to find affordable housing and to travel back and forth for work. That’s also a fault of city planning, they should have create stricter zonings and laws to restrict exploitation of apartments.
Mass Media Hype
Not only are investors from foreign countries causing problems but also the mass media in the whole world. The government is following the hype by supporting electric cars and wanted to release diesel bans in the city center. It could have hurt small companies much, mostly craftsmen, because they couldn't afford to switch from gas-driven car to an electric one because of the high acquisition price.
Electric buses and cars
I also heard that EU wants to introduce electric buses in all member countries by 2025. To buy expensive electric buses, which probably will be built in China, the cities have to raise ticket fares. Higher tickets fares force commuters to move back to cars.
I don’t understand the logic of the EU.
You should calculate the Co2 emissions comparing a car with one driver and a full-occupied bus: an average car outputs 120g/km and the bus only 30g/km each person. Of course, if the car is filled with four persons, it will output the same amount of emissions as a bus. But how often do you see a full-occupied car passing by?
In the end you see that it is not worth buying electric buses. They are only making worse with so-called corrections or as we say in German: “verschlimmbessern”.
By the way have you heard about the electric scooters? That’s a new dimension of movement because it allows commuters to get the last mile in a short time. The scooters are moving in the grey zone because they aren’t allowed on the sidewalk nor on the street. It also allows the city to congest more. Imagine a train filled with commuters with their scooters to avoid high bus fares and bike tickets.
In general, there are so many points to mention, let’s summarise everything.
The city’s congestion is caused by many factors, such as workplaces in the metropolitan instead in the rural areas, the failure of proper city planning and thinking and the mass media hype of electric vehicles.
If you look at the points, you may understand that Munich is having a diarrhea, which means that it swallows and spills out 400,000 daily travellers quickly, compared to inhabitants and tourists who stay in the city much longer. If we succeed in reducing the number of commuters, then Munich will get a healthy digestion. My suggestions are build less streets overall, build affordable housing in the rural area, allow less private cars in the city and focus more on public transport. The trick is doing exactly the opposite compared to others following the hype.
- "Kuriose Fakten: München - die Hauptstadt der Pendler", Merkur.de, 01.08.17
- Maren Michaelis: "Microsoft eröffnet neue Deutschland-Zentrale in München-Schwabing", Microsoft, 11.10.2016
- Andreas Glas, Claudia Henzler & Lisa Schnell: "Wo in Bayern der Pfeffer wächst", Süddeutsche.de, 03.03.2017
- Felix Thoma: "Integraler Taktfahrplan (ITF) – von der Schweiz auf Deutschland übertragbar?", zukunft-mobilitaet.net, 08.01.2014
- "Drei deutsche Städte unter den zehn beliebtesten Anlagezielen weltweit", Handelsblatt.com, 26.02.2019
- "EU-Vorgaben für saubere Busse könnten ÖPNV verteuern", BR.de, 21.04.2019
- "CO2-Emissionen im Individualverkehr", Stadt Aachen
- Kerstin Schwenn: "E-Scooter gegen Fußgänger", faz.net, 05.02.2019
This text was originally written for the Toastmasters speech. The purpose was to learn or review basic research methods and present a well-organized, well-researched speech on any topic.