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DRIVING

UPDATED: How to save money on fuel costs in Austria

With the price of fuel reaching record highs - and already passing the €2 a litre mark in some places - many motorists in Austria will be wondering how to cut down on costs. Here’s how.

UPDATED: How to save money on fuel costs in Austria
Petrol and diesel prices in Austria have hit record highs. Photo: Engin Akyurt via Pexels.

On Wednesday, the price of a litre of petrol crossed the €2 mark for the first time in some parts of Austria, including in Vienna and Tyrol.

This has prompted Pamela Rendi-Wagner, leader of the Social Democrat Party of Austria (SPÖ), to call for a temporary suspension of VAT on fuel to help motorists with rising costs, as reported by Der Standard.

Fuel prices in Austria – and across Europe – have been rising steadily for weeks due to inflation fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic and fears of global instability following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Just three weeks ago, the Austrian Automobile, Motorcycle and Touring Club (ÖAMTC) announced the average price of diesel in Austria had hit an all time high of €1.477, which (at the time) was in line with the average cost of petrol.

And prices are already set to rise again from July 2022 when a carbon levy of €30 per tonne will be added to the cost of fuel in Austria as part of an overhaul of the country’s tax system. 

Nikola Junick, Transport Economics Expert at the ÖAMTC, said: “Then the prices at the pumps will rise by 7.7 cents per litre of premium [petrol] and 8.8 cents per litre of diesel.”

READ ALSO: How Vienna’s parking system will change in March

Motorists in the west of the country are also bracing themselves for even higher prices in the summer with fuel costs typically more expensive than in the east, according to a report in the Tiroler Tageszeitung.

As a result, Junick from ÖAMTC is expecting a new fuel price record in Austria to be reached in July and is worried about the impact on motorist’s finances.

He said: “People who depend on their car every day and have to cover long distances will feel it. The government is therefore required to cushion the current price increases and at least reduce the additional burden from July. 

“Although a price stability mechanism is planned, this will only take effect for the planned increases from 2023.”

Austria’s price stability mechanism

The price stability mechanism (Preisstabilitätsmechanismus) is a Federal Government initiative that will come into effect in 2023 to monitor the cost of fossil fuel energy. The aim is to protect private households from fluctuating prices.

For example, if energy prices go up one year, then the annual increase in the CO2 tax will be reduced the following year to stabilise the prices, and vice versa.

Revenue from the CO2 levy is expected to generate around €5 billion by 2025 and coincides with the introduction of a “climate bonus” for Austrian taxpayers to offset the added cost of the measures.

But in the meantime, what can motorists do to reduce their fuel bills?

Money saving tips for motorists

The first step to saving money on the cost of petrol and diesel is to reduce how often you drive. 

This is easier in the summer months with the option to travel by bike instead of car, but for people that commute long distances to work or have a family to transport, this is not always possible.

FOR MEMBERS: Ten destinations by direct night train from Austria

Then there is public transport – especially for those living in larger towns and cities. But in rural areas public transport is not as frequent or easy to access, which means for some this is not a viable option.

Other tips from ÖAMTC to save money on fuel are:

  • Fill up your car at the start of the week as fuel becomes more expensive towards the weekend.
  • Fill up in the morning to avoid the possibility of one-off price increases that are allowed from 12pm. 
  • Avoid using expensive motorway petrol stations, if possible.
  • If travelling to Tyrol or Vorarlberg, fill up your vehicle in advance to avoid higher fuel prices in these provinces.

However, for people that have to drive a car and can’t limit their usage, the best way to save money on fuel is by searching for the cheapest prices.

How to find cheap petrol and diesel in Austria

Petrol distributors and stations compete with each other, which is good news for consumers.

To make it easier to find the best deals, there is an app by ÖAMTC to help motorists find the cheapest fuel prices in their area, or wherever they are travelling in Austria.

In the ÖAMTC app, users can search by petrol or diesel (depending on their vehicle) to view details of current prices at petrol stations in the selected area.

READ MORE: Cost of living: Seven tips to save money in Austria

For example, at the time of writing, The Local found the cheapest petrol prices in Vienna to be at Turmöl on Margaretenstrasse for €1.859 per litre. Turmöl also had the cheapest diesel at €1.959.

In Graz in Styria, both Turmöl Quick on Fabriksgasse and Rumpold on Kasernstrasse has petrol for €1.854. They were both the cheapest places for diesel at €1.954.

And in Innsbruck in Tyrol, BP Express on Höttinger had the cheapest petrol price at €1.959. Diesel was priced the same at most Innsbruck Tankstellen (petrol stations) at €1.999.

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For members

DRIVING

When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

While driving is a convenient way to get from A to B - or to go on holiday - there are some key dates and locations to be aware of in Austria this summer. Here’s what you need to know.

When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

Nothing spoils a summer holiday quicker than being stuck in traffic in sweltering weather.

It’s a situation that can be hard to avoid during the peak summer travel months of July and August, but it is possible to plan ahead to bypass the worst congestion.

Here’s The Local’s guide on when and where to expect high levels of traffic on Austrian roads this summer.

FOR MEMBERS: 7 things to know about driving in Austria this summer

Get to know Austria’s traffic calendar

The traffic calendar (Staukalender, in German) is exactly how it sounds – it’s a calendar displaying important dates where travellers could be impacted by congestion on the roads.

The calendar is compiled by the Austrian Automobile, Motorcycle and Touring Club (ÖAMTC), a traffic club and non-profit association that was established to support and represent drivers and cyclists in Austria.

Every year Barbara Kner from ÖAMTC Mobility Information collects details about public holidays, planned construction work, border controls and events.

The ÖAMTC then uses this information to create the traffic calendar and traffic volume forecasts to help motorists better plan their trips.

READ MORE: Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contract Covid

How does the traffic calendar work?

The traffic calendar is very simple to use.

Simply click the link and then browse through the pages on a month-by-month basis. 

The main events and planned construction projects are already in the calendar, so you can see where you might come across traffic on your journey and make any necessary changes to an itinerary.

You can also click on a specific date to be redirected to the ÖAMTC route planner for further details about traffic, parking spots and nearby petrol stations.

Both the traffic calendar and the route planner are available on desktop or via the ÖAMTC app.

Key dates in the traffic calendar for summer 2022 (and beyond)

Here are some key dates from the traffic calendar for the coming months.

School summer holidays – July to September

In 2022, the start of the school summer holidays will be staggered over the first two weekends in July, with regions in the east of Austria starting on July 2nd and the west on July 9th.

The ÖAMTC warns that the second weekend in July typically sees higher levels of traffic on roads in Austria, followed by the start of the Bavarian travel season on August 1st.

The last northbound wave of returning holidaymakers is expected on the main transit routes during the second weekend in September.

READ ALSO: Can I use my foreign driving licence in Austria?

Planned construction

Every year, major construction works are planned during the summer months while the weather is usually warm and dry, but it often plays havoc with travel plans for travellers in Austria.

In 2022, construction work is due to take place on the Ofenauer and Hiefler tunnels on the A10 in the province of Salzburg from September. 

Construction work on a chain of tunnels in Werfen (Zetzenberg, Helbersberg, Brentenberg) will also take place at the same time and the projects are scheduled to run until 2025 with breaks for summer traffic.

As a result, motorists should expect to hit traffic before entering the tunnels while work is ongoing.

Festivals

Electric Love takes place at the Salzburgring just outside of Salzburg from July 7th to 9th.

The FM4 Frequency Festival will be held from August 18th to 20th in St. Pölten in Lower Austria.

Both festivals are expected to create high levels of traffic, both on the way to the venue and afterwards.

As a precautionary measure, the ÖAMTC breakdown service will set up its own base at the site of these festivals or within the local area to provide assistance to motorists.

FOR MEMBERS: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Major sporting events

Other important events that are likely to cause congestion on Austrian roads are the F1 GP race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Styria, on July 10th.  This is then followed by the MotoGP on August 21st. 

For both events, delays are likely on the Murtal Expressway (S36) before and after the race so be sure to plan ahead when travelling to the track.

Likewise, the F1 GP race in Hungary on July 31st is expected to cause traffic jams at the Austrian/Hungarian border in Nickelsdorf on the A4.

From 2nd to 3rd September, AirPower – the annual aircraft event with performances from the Red Bull Skydiving team and the Austrian Armed Forces – will take place in Zeltweg in Styria. 

Motorists could encounter traffic on the S36 during this time (particularly for people arriving or leaving the site).

READ MORE: The best Austrian wineries to visit this summer

Marathons and Ironman events

Ironman competitions will take place at Lake Wörthersee in Carinthia on July 3rd, and in Zell am See in Salzburg on August 28th. Motorists should expect traffic delays and road closures in the regions both the day before and on the morning of the events.

The Wachau Marathon will be held on September 25th along the B3 in Emmersdorf to Krems. As a result, the B3 will be closed to vehicles from 8am.

The Kleine Zeitung Graz Marathon takes place on October 9th, which means many roads in the city centre are closed on October 8th and 9th. Instead, park and ride options will be available and a limited service of buses and trams by the Graz Linien.

In Lower Austria, the Linz Donau Marathon is on October 23rd. From 5.30am there will be extensive road closures throughout the city centre and the Vöest freeway bridge will be closed from 2am to 12pm.

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