Eco-friendly transport wins the day
Calls for travellers to leave their cars at home and switch to bus and rail transport often fall on deaf ears, but the reverse has been true at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. A majority of match ticket holders have opted to use eco-friendly public transportation.
Even before the tournament began, it was clear that visitor and ticket-holder travel within Germany would be responsible for a significant proportion of the incremental greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the FIFA World Cup. The Green Goal initiative aimed to persuade at least half of all match-goers to use local and underground trains, trams and buses for trips to the stadium. The results have exceeded expectations, according to the Police, local passenger transport authorities and German Railways (Deutsche Bahn, DB). Figures obtained after two weeks of the tournament, and incorporating data from all matches and cities involved at that point, show that approximately 55 % of match ticket holders used public transport for their trip to the stadium.
A closer inspection of the data suggests an even greater success. In Munich, no fewer than 60% of stadium visitors used the underground to get to the stadium, compared to a pre-tournament forecast of 30 to 40%. In Dortmund, Hanover, Kaiserslautern and Leipzig, crowds of match-goers made use of specially signposted pedestrian routes. At the first match in Dortmund, some 10,000 Sweden and Trinidad & Tobago fans opted for a 40-minute stroll in the sun from the central station to the stadium. Some fans took to their bicycles, up to 500 at certain matches. If one includes pedestrians and cyclists, the average proportion of match-goers choosing to reach their seats by eco-friendly methods reached around 60%.
Furthermore, between 100 and 200 passenger coaches ferried fans to each match. For Japan's meeting with Brazil in Dortmund on 22 June, an impressive 376 buses brought almost a fifth of the crowd to the ground. Coaches accounted for around 10% of the incremental traffic volume, a valuable contribution to protecting the environment, as coaches, the railways and public transport networks all have approximately the same environmental impact. "There's one conclusion we can already draw: the car parks have lost out, as they're mainly only half full," according to Green Goal ambassador Prof. Klaus Töpfer, a former German Federal Environment Minister.
One important factor persuading fans to switch to eco-friendly transport was the combination ticket, in use at a FIFA World Cup for the first time and offering match ticket holders free travel on the entire regional public transportation network for the whole of the matchday. The system is common in the Bundesliga but only for a period of three hours before and after matches. Many visitors chose to leave their cars at home even for longer trips to matches, switching instead to rail. The Ecological Institute has described usage levels on FIFA World Cup special trains as good.
"The World Cup is setting new records almost every day," Organising Committee (OC) vice-president Horst R. Schmidt commented. The OC is proud to have staged the first FIFA World Cup to hit targets previously considered out of reach. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which supports and promotes Green Goal, also praised the programme. "I'm convinced these ecological ideas and strategies can be adapted and further developed for future mass events, be they football or rock concerts," commented UNEP Director Achim Steiner.