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5 questions for Anna-Theresa Korbutt

Tell us how you began your career in the mobility sector. What motivated you to work there?

As is so often the case in life, it all began with a minor event that had a big effect. I was in a dining car travelling with Deutsche Bahn (DB) when the train braked suddenly, toppling my neighbour’s glass and spilling its contents onto my clothes. As chance would have it, my neighbour was the deputy director of DB Inhouse Consulting. We began talking and he was able to sell me on the idea of joining DB, and that was how I entered the mobility sector. And I have never regretted it. Mobility still has great potential, and for many years it has remained untapped. It is an area where we can get so much moving together and attract people to easy, affordable public transport. The Germany-wide ’Deutschlandticket’ has already got things rolling in many ways and demonstrated what is possible. And that is just the beginning.

Can you tell us about your experience as a woman in the mobility sector? How do you think this sector can encourage and help more women to occupy senior business and technical positions in the mobility sector?

In the mobility sector, as in many other industries, a healthy dose of self-assurance is required in order to assert oneself from the beginning and move things in new directions. The industry benefits from this because in many ways women see mobility with different eyes and are able to bring new ideas and another outlook to the table. This aspect, together with expertise, interdisciplinary and creative thinking as well as a passion and commitment to the cause definitely gives the sector a boost. The mobility sector is very diverse and forward-looking and has so much potential in terms of developing intelligent transport systems, innovative mobility services and eco-friendly solutions and vehicles. I can only encourage women to join this industry.

Anna-Theresa Korbutt

Anna-Theresa Korbutt

Public transport is evolving all the time. What innovations or developments do you forecast for the future of public transport, in particular for buses? How will they take passengers’ changing needs and preferences into account?

Hamburg is pursuing a clear strategy of converting all buses to zero-emission drives and already has several hundred electric buses in service. By 2030 a fully emissions-free bus fleet will be operating in Hamburg – the key here is total electrification and continued development of alternative drives. As to how renewable energies can be put to use in the mobility sector, there will be many new developments in the years to come. Advances are being made in self-driving vehicle systems which will have a long-term impact on public transport. In future, self-driving vehicles and buses will ensure regular, reliable connections and enable flexible routes based on demand, thus contributing decisively to Hamburg’s public transport strategy. I can see further innovation and progress taking place with regard to the development of sustainable and comfortable vehicles, intelligent traffic management systems, the expansion of on-demand services and, last but not least, digitalisation advancing at all levels.

Taken together, all these factors will contribute to a seamless combination of various modes of transport – buses, rail, bicycles, ferries, sharing providers – and with it the 24/7 availability of multi-modal transport, use of which will be so easy that people will not even have to think about how to get from A to B. And that is public transport at its best.

Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise the mobility sector. What do you think are the biggest advantages and challenges of broadly introducing self-driving vehicles, in particular as regards self-driving bus and shuttle transport?

In the long term, self-driving vehicles will no longer require personnel – at present there is always at least one person on board who can intervene if necessary – so that transport services will in future be available at all hours. There will be no need for drivers to wait inside vehicles even if there are no passengers. It means services can be made widely available in rural areas too. The challenge is for vehicles to also operate safely at higher speeds, on highways between cities and in all kinds of traffic for example. Hamburg’s goal is to put 10,000 self-driving vehicles into service by 2030 and incorporate them in the system of fares and services offered by hvv, which will be a quantum leap for climate-friendly and 24/7 transport availability.

Self-driving vehicles offer a great opportunity to improve the public transport services surrounding towns and cities, in rural areas and remote regions, and to vastly improve public transport links there. However, they will also become an essential and sensible alternative to conventional public transport in a built-up urban environment, thereby enabling better and sustainable transport during off-peak hours and 24/7.

How can the ’Deutschlandticket’ help to reduce CO2 emissions? How is it influencing public transport demand?

The ’Deutschlandticket’ is a successful business model which in many parts of Germany has led to a fundamental change in attitude towards mobility, leading to record passenger volumes and subscriptions, not only with hvv. Surveys among new customers show that 24 per cent of the trips undertaken on a ’Deutschlandticket’ in June would otherwise have been made by car. As a result, hvv’s ’Deutschlandticket’ stands not only for more passengers on public transport, but also for less car traffic on the roads. The ’Deutschlandticket’ has given an unprecedented boost to public transport, even though remote working has reduced the need for many trips. hvv alone has currently registered nearly 300,000 new customers.

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