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How Vienna plans to expand its tram and park & ride systems for commuters

In efforts to give commuters and travellers more flexibility, Austria's capital is expanding its transport services. Check out what is coming in the future.

a tram in the city center of Vienna, public transport Austria
One of the famous Viennese trams will travel to Lower Austria, crossing city limites (Photo by Árpád Czapp on Unsplash)

A new tram between Vienna and Lower Austria is on its way, Vienna’s Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) and governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) announced on Friday.

From 2025, tram line 72 will run from Simmering district to Schwechat, the city where Vienna’s International Airport is located. However, the line will end a few kilometres away by Europaplatz. 

READ ALSO: The best commuter towns if you work in Vienna

The Vienna-Schwechat-Bim is expected to transport around 4,500 passengers daily, Ludwig said. The line is part of a larger plan to give more climate-friendly transport possibilities for people coming to the Austrian capital, including visitors and the more than 300,000 daily commuters, many from Lower Austria.

According to City Councilor Ulli Sima, the total distance of the line will be 6.4 kilometres. Some 2.75 kilometres will be newly built, 1.75 kilometres of which in Lower Austria.

The SPÖ mayor also announced that the Park & Ride system will be expanded. Drivers can leave their vehicles by the car parks within city limits for a very low price and then hop on Vienna’s public transport system. 

By 2024, 3,000 car parking spaces will be added, the mayor said.

This will significantly affect car users visiting Vienna since the capital’s parking system has changed. From March 1st, almost the entire city is a “short-term” zone, meaning parking is only possible in public streets with a resident’s parking permit or a ticket for two-hour parking.

READ ALSO: Five underrated towns you can visit in a day from Vienna

Vienna’s Park and Ride garages are among the best alternatives for travellers arriving by car, costing around € 3.60 per day and close to underground line connections. 

“With this package of measures, we are taking the right step towards promoting climate-friendly mobility in the eastern region”, Ludwig said.

Planning is “largely completed”, the mayor said. The necessary investments will be around € 29 million, with negotiations with the federal government still taking place. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Reader question: Can I get a refund after cancelling my Austria trip due to Covid?

Summer vacations and rising Covid-19 infection numbers are a dangerous combination for travellers. Here is what you need to know about your rights if you get sick and need to cancel your holidays to or from Austria.

Reader question: Can I get a refund after cancelling my Austria trip due to Covid?

You are all set for your long-awaited vacations, but just before you leave, the coronavirus test comes back positive. What to do and what are your rights? Is it possible to get a refund on your trip to or from Austria?

Will the airline let you move your flight to a different date, or will the hotel reschedule your reservation?

As summer vacations arrive, with most European countries having no or almost no coronavirus restrictions, travelling is back – and with a vengeance, it appears. Austrian Airlines boss Annette Mann said that “people [now] have an insane desire to travel”.

READ ALSO: Will Austria see travel chaos in airports this summer?

At the same time, Austria has been facing rising Covid-19 infection numbers for weeks, and there is a fear of an intense summer wave.

On Thursday, June 30th, the country reported 12,506 new cases in 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry.

What to do if you have symptoms?

If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, including mild flu-like symptoms like coughing or sneezing, you should get tested. In Austria, there are many alternatives for those looking for the test, from free PCR at home to antigen tests.

If you test positive with an antigen test, you should confirm the result with a PCR test. Once you are a suspected case, you should quarantine until your result is confirmed. If the PCR test is positive, you need to self-isolate for at least five days.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in Austria

Self-isolation after a positive test is mandatory in Austria and most countries worldwide. That means that, by regulation, you are not allowed to leave your home for non-medical purposes during those days – or even longer,, depending on the course of the disease.

If you have a trip scheduled during your isolation period, that could be a problem.

What happens to my flight tickets?

Airline companies are not required to refund you or allow you to make changes to your flight for free – unless the ticket you purchased entitled you to these rights.

Most companies sell tickets for the same journey with different fares. Not only prices can change depending on the classic “economic, business, first class” divisions, but they can also increase dramatically depending on the type of ticket.

For example, an Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna to Rome in economy starts at €59.92. There are then three options: economy light, economy classic, and economy flex.

An empty Austrian Airlines check-in counter. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP

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

The first, with the lowest tariff, does not entitle you to a refund and will charge you €70 for rebooking plus a possible tariff difference.

A “economy classic” ticket costs €89.92, and will allow you to rebook without a charge (you only need to pay the difference in prices). It will not give you a refund.

Finally, the “economy flex” costs €129.92, allows for a refund (minus a €70 fee), and lets you rebook without a charge (you only have to cover the price changes).

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

The tickets have other differences, including allowing you to carry more luggage or reserve your seat, for example. Depending on which one you purchased, you may or may not be entitled to a refund.

What about my hotel reservations?

The same is valid for hotel reservations. Most of them, especially if you have used an online booking platform, will have different fees and travellers have different rights. It is essential to understand each tariff and what they entitle you to.

For example, a twin room in a hotel in downtown Vienna could cost you €92, but it is non-refundable and you need to pay in advance.

READ ALSO: EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

The same twin room can be found for €108, but with free cancellation – read the fine lines and you will see that even the free cancellation is only valid until three days before the booking date in some cases.

Just like airlines, hotels are not mandated to refund you if you can’t make it to your reservation because you or a travel companion got Covid-19. Unless you paid for the more flexible (and more expensive) rate.

Photo by Jorgen Hendriksen on Unsplash

What can I do, then?

It is worth mentioning that there are a few things you could try. For example, if you purchased travel insurance, or if your debit or credit card has it automatically, you might be able to get a refund. So, check those insurance documents.

Additionally, it may be possible to negotiate directly with a hotel. While airlines are major corporations and it might seem next to impossible to find a human being able to perhaps negotiate, this is not the case with a hotel.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

It may be that you are able to swap your reservation dates, depending on occupancy and how much wiggle room the hotel manager has. It won’t solve all your problems, but if it’s a trip to a nearby place, sometimes accommodation is more expensive than flights.

You also need to always be careful and double check the policies of tickets and hotel (or private accommodations) you buy and reserve. If you have booked through a travel agent or online platform, it is also worth looking if they have different cancellation or rescheduling policies.

Finally, if you have not made it to your hotel reservation because of a flight problem, if your flight was cancelled or delayed, for example, you have rights under the EU law.

*Prices for this story were checked on June 30th.

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