Mobility revolution is a central task
Interview with Eva Kreienkamp Chairwoman of Berlin BVG
Since 1 October 2020, Eva Kreienkamp has been chairwoman of the board of Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), Germany‘s largest public transport operator. Kreienkamp holds a degree in mathematics. Before she was appointed to Berlin, she spent five years at Mainzer Verkehrsgesellschaft, where she held various posts, such as responsibility for the “Mainzer Mobilität 2030” concept and managing director of CityBahn GmbH. For many years Eva Kreienkamp has been committed to more diversity within companies. She is a founding member of the association “FidAR - Frauen in die Aufsichtsräte” (Women into board positions).
Ms Kreienkamp, on 1 October 2020 you took up your new role as chairwoman of the BVG board, right in the middle of the Corona period. As a result, passenger numbers have dropped massively; people seem not only to rely more on home offices but also more on individual transport. To what extent has the virus changed your short- and medium-term plans at BVG?
Eva Kreienkamp: The pandemic is a challenge for all of us. Despite signifcantly lower demand, we are running the full programme so that our bus and rail passengers can remain as far apart from each other as possible. The people of Berlin highly appreciate that they can rely on us even in these times. I am therefore convinced that passenger numbers will also increase significantly again when the pandemic eases, if we offer the quality that people expect from us. But it also means that we have to adjust certain factors. Working conditions, but also leisure behaviour will change permanently. We have to react to this - with tailor-made offers and ticket types. We are already having very constructive discussions about this with our partners of the public transport association. As far as longer-term plans are concerned, many of them have long since been set on a course for growth, and rightly so. Because - and despite Corona, we must not forget this - climate change is an issue that will keep us occupied much longer and more intensively. The mobility revolution is one of our central tasks. Attractive and intelligently networked local transport services are the key to a liveable future, especially for the metropolitan areas. As BVG, we are committed to playing an active role in shaping this future. For this, we need a modern vehicle fleet as well as an efficient infrastructure and - last but not least - many well-trained and motivated colleagues who want to share this journey with us.
Not only the mobility revolution, but also digitisation and the steady growth of cities, some of which are in the centre of enormous metropolitan regions – all of this also affects Berlin. What challenges for BVG will this bring about in the next decade?
Eva Kreienkamp: Transport companies have always been thinking ahead in long time frames. With courage and foresight, our forefathers created a local transport system for Berlin from which we still benefit today. It is our duty to leave future generations a legacy of a system which is tailor-made for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. This is why we are now starting the procurement process to consistently modernise our fleets well into the 2030s. And this is why new tram routes are already being planned and built in Berlin, and underground lines may also soon be planned and built again. In ten years, our underground and tram networks will to a large extent be equipped with new vehicles, and our buses will be electric. There will be new routes and lines. And – this is something which is particularly close to my heart – BVG will be far more digital. With our Jelbi platform, we are already showing the possibilities which digitisation offers for networked mobility. We want to continue on this path and will do so – in transport services, but also in sales and passenger information.
You were previously at Mainzer Verkehrsgesellschaft. What is the biggest difference to BVG, apart from the size and the presence of underground trains, and how does it show?
Eva Kreienkamp:Actually, there are rather more similarities. Every transport company lives first and foremost thanks to the people who serve their passengers around the clock with passion and know-how to provide them with the best possible services on road and rail. To be at the head of such a strong team is a privilege. The biggest difference between Mainz and Berlin is certainly the public perception. BVG is, after all, the largest local transport company in Germany. And this inevitably makes us a heavyweight whose actions are much more under public scrutiny than elsewhere.