60plus – and suddenly a risk group?

20210401_SharePic Corona-Talks XII (60plus) IIUnder the motto “60plus – and suddenly a risk group”, Christa Möller-Metzger (senior political spokeswoman for the Greens in the Hamburg Parliament and boardmenber of ENGS) will speak on April 1st from 7 p.m. in German about the relapse of images of old age caused by Corona.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, older people in particular have been portrayed in the media as needing help, lonely and sick. The daily flood of images makes them feel really old and see themselves particularly at risk from Corona. Older people, who are active and committed, who work on a voluntary basis, who support the food banks or teach refugees are rarely shown in the public eye. This depresses your own self-esteem and also influences your own perception. Maybe for the next generations too.

Experts from 3 generations are invited to the interview:
o Prof. Dr. Annette Franke, Professor of Health Sciences, EH Ludwigsburg
o Annemarie Kron, senior trainer and director of the Hamburg senior citizens office
o Rosa Domm, member of the Green Youth and the Green parliamentary group in the Hamburg Parliament, spokeswoman for climate policy and the mobility transition

The participants ask themselves the following questions:
o What is happening with Corona right now?
o What do the new old images of old age mean for the next generations?
o How do you change your perspective?
Prof. Franke shows pictures from a current study on the subject that say a lot about this development. (Media images of old age in the Covid 19 pandemic, https://www.image-19.de)

The live stream will be shown on the Facebook, YouTube and Twitter channels of the Greens Hamburg.
Or simply here: www.gruene-hamburg.de/fraktion-live

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Hearing in Hamburg on digitalization with almost 3000 viewers!

 IMG_0799On February 25th, the Equal Opportunities Committee in the parliament  of Hamburg held a hearing on the subject of “Participation of senior citizens through digitalization - a strategy for Hamburg” – with an overwhelming response. Our member Christa Möller-Metzger (on the left) campaigned for it and almost 3000 viewers followed the livestream! As many as never before!

These were the most important suggestions, ideas and demands made by a total of six experts:

  •  Older people are the fastest growing group on the Internet, but there is a lack of suitable offers for them
  • There is no overview of all the offers that are already available, we need a digital platform for offers in every district
  • We need older influencers who show others how we can use the internet
  • A digital pact for old age is needed, there is a lack of training strategies for older people
  • We need places of learning in every district
  • Research must include the elderly and must not end at 65 plus
  • We need a round table with banks, health insurance companies, retailers, adult education centers, bookhouses, senior citizens’ meetings, providers, retailers, nursing home operators, care services and many more
  • Free WiFi must be adopted for people with basic social security and WiFi must be a matter of course in all nursing homes
  • Older people need free loan devices to get to know each other, to reduce fears and for everyone who cannot afford a tablet and smartphone
  • With anglicisms we exclude many elderly people
  • Schoolchildren and students could support older people in using digital devices, but also older volunteers
  • Older people today have to take the step into the digital world – but offers have to be created to make it work. E.g. from banks, health insurances, residents’ registration offices and everywhere where analogue offers are set
  • We need a lot more digital courses, the offer is currently far from being sufficient
  • We need trained staff and a balance between volunteers and full-time employees.
  • It is possible to learn at any age
  • We have to learn new things at every age; this will also be necessary in the future

 IMG_6711Dagmar Hirche (on the left), Chairwoman, Ways Out of Loneliness, finds it shameful that nursing homes still do not offer wifi across the board. And describes age today as extremely diverse. She has worked with young refugees who have explained digital technology to older people, which works very well.

Professor Dr Dr h.c. Andreas Kruse, IMG_5521(on  the right) Chairman of the 8th Age Report Commission, Professor of Psychology and Gerontology, gives the state and municipalities responsibility for ensuring that all households are equipped with digital technology. Older people want to stay in their home environment, and digital services of general interest help decisively with this.

IMG_1976Nicola Röhricht, (on the left) BAGSO (Federal Association of Senior Citizens’ Organizations eV), praises Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate for having ready-made educational plans. You need a strategy, the digital pact. Good examples have to be shared. The economy has a duty. Manufacturers Technology should be brought to the table, updates should be easier to handle. An education plan is good, but a fixed curriculum is not. For the inclusion of people with a migration background, we need bridge builders, links that we have to approach. And first of all we have to the benefits of technology will be explained, e.g. via Google earth, you can travel to foreign places even if you are not mobile.

Jens Stappenbeck, managing director of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Freie Wohlfahrtspflege, demands that digital education must be free of charge, we need individual and group offers. In senior citizens’ get-togethers, there are often only outdated end devices, which is not enough. Digital devices would have to be made available.

Uta Keite, employment Manager at the Bücherhallen Medienprojekte GmbH, is currently establishing contacts with migrant organizations, which could easily be incorporated into the media delivery service. She is planning home visits as well as visits to retirement homes. Her digital courses are always fully booked.

Joachim Schulte, Digital Angels Project Coordinator, Digital Compass Project Manager, explains that the Digital Angels will be on the road in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein from October to November. They stand on marketplaces to provide information about what is on offer. Many older people wanted to stay in contact, read the newspaper online, looked for timetables or played games. T h e old dont existist as it is the same with t h e young ones – and old is not synonymous with offline.

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Demands for the election platform in Germany

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In Germany, we will have elections in September. These are the demands of the German Green Seniors (Grüne Alte):

Age-friendly city and communities: Demographic change, the higher life expectancy of people in our society, is advancing. We therefore want to implement the concept of the World Health Organization of Age-friendly Cities and Communities in Germany as well. Large cities like London and Montreal or municipalities like Esbjerg (DK) or Freeport (USA) have already joined the international network of 1000 cities and municipalities. In Germany it has been Radevormwald and Münster so far. There, targeted measures are initiated that make life in town and country easier for the elderly. And all generations benefit from this. It’s about wide footpaths and bike paths on which you can move safely, green areas within walking distance, benches to rest, meeting places without compulsory consumption, multi-generational living, barrier-free apartments that are also affordable, living space swap, sufficient outpatient care and good local supplies. Images of age have changed, age is very diverse and must not be deficit-oriented, but must be thought of in a potential-oriented manner. We want self-determined life and social participation as far and as long as possible.

Old-age poverty: Old-age poverty is a growing problem and women are particularly affected, as they were often not employed or only part-time because of raising children and caring for relatives. But everyone has the right to material security and social, political and cultural participation as well as a life without existential fear. This requires a strong welfare state that creates the conditions for a self-determined, happy life, actively enables participation and ensures that no one falls through the cracks. We want to promote the independent livelihood of women and measures to promote fair wages. We need an increase in the basic security in old age, as it is currently not enough for living.

Digitalization: The digital transformation is changing our society at great speed. Assistance systems in the home, health care, telemedicine, e-governance, digital communication and access to mobility can make participation, independence and living within your own four walls easier – which is what most people want. Older people in particular with low incomes and not so well educated are already digitally left behind. Women and people with a migration background are particularly affected. To counteract this, we need lifelong learning opportunities, targeted digital training for the elderly, free WiFi in nursing homes and service apartments and for everyone else who cannot afford online access. Today it belongs to the general interest and should become a basic right.

Elderly Care: We demand effective quality controls, strengthen outpatient care services and expand municipal care advice centers. We want the development of neighborhood concepts, because good care will in future consist even more of a needs-based mix of civic engagement, neighborhood help, low-threshold offers and professional services and care by relatives. We want to promote new forms of living in which all generations can accompany and support each other in everyday life through mutual cooperation. We want family caregivers who do 3/4 of the care work in Germany to be financially secure. They need more support in their work and easier access to offers / resources. In the further development of the health and medical professions, imparting a culture-sensitive and diversity-oriented attitude in the profession should be a matter of course.

Living in old age: We advocate more multigenerational houses in housing construction, housing swaps with support so that older people can move out of large apartments more easily, living-for-aid projects, affordable housing for students in care facilities, shared apartments for the elderly, also for people with handicaps and / or dementia. Inclusion instead of exclusion. And not only when building condominiums, but also in the area of ​​rent and social housing, so that people with lower incomes can also use such offers.

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Meeting with EGP

Bildschirmfoto 2021-01-21 um 09.11.34This morning we had an intensive conversation with Mar Garcia (General Secretary of EGP), Thomas Waitz (Co-Chair) and Jean Lambert (Member of the Committee of EGP and the European Parliament). From ENGS were there Vivianne and Agneta from Sweden, Irmgard from Austria, Christa and Frank from Germany and Reino from Finland. We would like to officially be a member of EGP with the right to make proposals and amendments directly to EGP, not only through our national Parties, and also vote on them. The three EGP representatives took our request with them – and welcomed proposals and promised support, also financial, for our plans and ideas. In addition, we want to meet at least once a year in the future to exchange ideas. This is a good start!

 

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Green Economics Institute’s first annual winter networking day

This was exciting today: two representatives of the Green Seniors spoke at the Green Economics Institute’s first annual winter networking day in London.

Christa Möller-Metzger spoke about her favorite theme: age-friendly cities and communities and the new narrative about the elderly. Images of old age have changed and it is time that society responds. What we need are better conditions for social participation, like barrier-free access, cross-generational meeting points, lifelong learning, multi-generational houses, shared apartments and caring communities.

Agneta Granström spoke about the changes in living conditions in the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, where sheAgneta Granström lives. She showed us the nature in front of her house through her cell phone: the river is not frozen over as usual, there is hardly any snow. When rivers and lakes freeze, the ice is too thin and herds of 3.000 reindeer have collapsed and drowned. And in the last days also moose, which always take the same routes Agneta's.outdoorand can no longer rely on them because the ice is breaking. Because of lack of snow, the grass is frozen and when animals eat it, there is too much water in their stomach, and they get ill or starve.

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Important information on a very interesting conference, with speakers from all over the world, like from Fridays for future, as well as economists from Japan, migration and sustainability experts and many more.

 

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Beyond the bubble: Aging, Solidarity and Covid-19

Article in Green European Journal

Author: Christa Möller-Metzger

Elderly people have suffered not only the health impacts of this pandemic but also the isolation that comes with limited social contact. The pandemic has exposed many unresolved challenges for older members of society – social care, the digital divide, loneliness – but demographic ageing remains critically under-discussed. For Christa Möller-Metzger, Covid-19 is a chance for a new generational compromise built around connection, participation, and solidarity.

Alte für Enkel Alfons is from Gera, Germany, and is 84 years old. During the coronavirus lockdown, he did not see his wife for weeks. She lives in a nursing home and, from one day to the next, visits were banned. As she suffers from dementia and is hard of hearing, they couldn’t speak on the phone. Before the crisis, he would visit her every day, hug her, and make sure she felt that she was not alone. For Alfons, not seeing his wife was a real struggle.

In time, the rules were relaxed and Alfons could visit his wife again. Alfons’s story is one that many elderly people will recognize. In Hamburg, half of people aged 80 and above live alone. During the worst months of the health crisis, many scarcely dared to go outside, whether to do the shopping, see the doctor, or go to the bank. Apart from essential trips, they were advised to stay at home.

Statistically, the risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms increases with age. But Covid-19 does not only impact the elderly – rather, it affects those with certain pre-existing medical conditions worst. The exclusion of certain groups from social life – “shielding” – cannot be the answer.

Not only are undifferentiated assessments based on age overly simplistic (age is not always synonymous with poor health), they fail to account for the harmful consequences of excluding elderly people in our societies, already a problem at the best of times. Covid-19 has shown that there is much to be done to make our societies inclusive for people of all ages.

The loneliness pandemic

The principal coronavirus response has been to minimize personal contacts to reduce the spread of the virus. University of Edinburgh research spanning 27 countries found that older people avoided public transport and many no longer felt comfortable receiving guests for fear of infection. Limited possibilities for personal contact meant that people turned to digital tools, and for many elderly people the coronavirus crisis has been a chance to use social networks and messenger services like never before.

People who spent fewer years in education generally have reduced access to means of digital communication, and this is especially true for the elderly.

Unfortunately, digital tools do not work everywhere or for everyone. Germany’s digital divide is growing. People who spent fewer years in education generally have reduced access to means of digital communication, and this is especially true for the elderly. People with low incomes may lack the hardware, internet connection, or the necessary skills. This disparity means that some miss out on increasingly crucial channels for participation in social life. As society ages and becomes more technologically oriented, digital inclusion will become an increasingly salient question. Easy-to-access online training and free internet for older people would go some way to preventing loneliness and exclusion.

As multigenerational households become less common in Europe, loneliness is growing, especially for the over-75s. Lonely people tend to be less healthy, more prone to dementia, and require more and earlier care. Poverty increases the risk of loneliness because many social activities come at a cost. The 2014 ageing survey in Germany found that a fifth of those affected by old-age poverty also experienced deep loneliness. For older people, poverty is often persistent as they have reduced opportunities to improve their financial situation, especially those who have been out of work for a long time. Women are particularly vulnerable to old-age poverty, as they are likely to have worked part-time or poorly paid jobs, or to have left employment to care for children or parents, resulting in lower pensions. The pension system ought to recognize care work and guarantee a decent life for all in old age.

A new model of care

Across Europe, care homes were Covid-19 hotspots. In Belgium, residents of retirement and nursing homes represented half of the total fatalities (according to data from August 2020). But problems with the current care system go beyond infectious diseases. For many elderly people, entering a care home in their current form is not a desirable option.

Large homes are frequently run under tight budget constraints that leave little room for attentive care. Too often, the service is geared towards meeting basic needs, but little more. Staff often lack the time to care as they were trained to: with the aim of maintaining people’s independence for as long as possible. Low pay and poor conditions across the sector mean that care workers are in short supply and overworked.

The nursing home of the future should be open, allowing residents to be part of wider, multigenerational communities.

Alte für Enkel 2 The coronavirus crisis should be considered an opportunity to move away from a model of care provision based on large-scale homes. Care sector working conditions must be improved, with higher salaries and more thorough, specialized training that includes intercultural communication. Mental health and independence should be valued on par with physical wellbeing. The nursing home of the future should be open, allowing residents to be part of wider, multigenerational communities. Good outpatient care and the individual preferences of residents should be prioritized.

Helping hands

As terrible as the pandemic has been, it has been a source of greater cohesion and solidarity between generations. After all, the elderly people among those most at risk from the virus are not anonymous: they are Grandma and Grandad, Mum and Dad, Aunt and Uncle. Family ties are part of the reason why most people are happy to comply with government restrictions. Many younger people took it upon themselves to shop and run errands for elderly relatives or neighbors, welcome support that helped many older people to cope. Nevertheless, the ability to live independently is an asset that should not be underestimated. Older people have the right to make informed choices about what is best for themselves.

The lockdown saw extraordinary acts of solidarity. Neighbors gathered in the streets to share a socially distanced meal outdoors. The German organization Ways Out of Loneliness (Wege aus der Einsamkeit e.V.) held online meetings for the over-65s with up to 80 participants experimenting with video conferencing for the first time, participating in fitness classes, listening to lectures, or just chatting. The Oll Inklusiv association, which usually holds daytime “club nights” for older people in Hamburg, organized bingo to techno music. As the pace of life slowed down, many people took more time to call and speak with older friends and relatives.

Growing old in the city

One positive development in recent years has been the increasing number of cities embracing the World Health Organization concept of “age-friendly cities”, launched in 2010. An age-friendly city aims to minimize the discrepancy between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, taking steps to develop and maintain the ability of its elderly population to live an active life. Membership of the Age-friendly Cities Network does not come with any requirements, but participating cities and municipalities undertake to pay increased attention to the needs of older people. One thousand cities and municipalities across 41 countries are currently represented, including London, New York, Madrid, Tampere, Bern, Brussels, and Dijon. Canada has signed up nationally.

Alte für Enkel 2Measures for age-friendly cities, such as barrier-free access, wide and safe pavements, and cycling infrastructure, benefit all ages. Ottawa has repaired damaged pavements, put up more pedestrian traffic lights, and installed 100 new benches. These benches are not just for recreation but aim to increase mobility for the elderly by providing places to rest when out and about. In Akita, Japan, local companies are encouraged to join an age-friendly partner programme to deliver groceries directly to older people unable to shop for themselves. London has organized health walks for older citizens to walk together in the park. In Tampere, citizens’ advice centers in central shopping locations raise awareness of the municipal and private services that are available.

Not only are undifferentiated assessments based on age overly simplistic […] they fail to account for the harmful consequences of excluding elderly people in our societies […]

While Hamburg has not yet joined the network, making the city inclusive for all ages is an important focus for local government. Despite the difficult budgetary situation, the city’s Social Democrat-Green coalition is planning action. The Hamburg Greens’ focus is digital inclusion for the elderly, with measures including barrier-free training sessions designed for accessibility (no unfamiliar words or jargon), a computer lending scheme, and the installation of Wi-Fi in care homes.

The age-friendly city provides an orientation for the future of cities: neighborhoods built around mutual support, with public meeting places; long-term care communities integrated with multigenerational housing; and flexible residential units that can be resized according to demand, giving older people the option to downsize their homes, freeing up larger homes for families.

We are in this together

The Covid-19 crisis has thrust issues of care, ageing, and loneliness to the fore, sparking a conversation about ageing societies that is often deferred. Europe must be prepared for demographic change. To combat the creeping generational divide, we must create inclusive spaces and build a society where people of all ages and backgrounds meet and live together.

For generations, life has been divided into three main stages: education, work, and retirement. This model may have had its day. Education and training should be accessible to all ages through lifelong learning. Working arrangements should allow time and space for caring for the young and old. The definition of work should be broadened to include not just gainful employment but also activities such as volunteering, education, and care. For pensions to remain sufficient while being affordable for future generations of taxpayers, working lives may lengthen. But as good health lasts longer and ageing is delayed, many people will want to work for longer. Improving quality of life in old age also implies improved working conditions in certain trades, particularly in professions heavy in manual labor.

To combat the creeping generational divide, we must create inclusive spaces and build a society where people of all ages and backgrounds meet and live together.

The younger generations also stand to benefit from a reconfigured balance between the three phases of life. The pressure to finish education as quickly as possible in order to start work should be lifted, and working life should provide opportunities for time off.

Alte für Enkel 1Mainstream media often present a narrative that pits the old against the young. But is the clash of generations credible? As many young people fight for the climate in movements like Fridays for Future, we older Green activists march alongside them bearing slogans like “Oldies for grandchildren”. For decades, the older generations have fought battles around nuclear power, working conditions, world hunger and inequality, gender justice, and clean air and food. Side by side with our children and grandchildren, we will continue to do so.

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Why Age-friendly Cities are so important for the future?

Online talk on Saturday, 5. December 2020, 10–11:15 am

In Germany, around 30% of all people will be over 65 years of age in 2030, a development that can also be seen in many other European countries. The number of very old people in particular will increase. In order to be prepared for the demographic change, we need excellent concepts, such as the age-friendly concept of the WHO. Examples of Age-friendly cities and communities from different European Countries.

Christa Möller, HamburgSpeaker: Christa Möller-Metzger, MbHB, Seniors-Spokeswoman of the Green Faction in the Hamburg Parliament, Boardmember European Network of Green Seniors and Federal Green Seniors

Study of Biology, History, Sociology, State Examination; Editor, Head of Department in the largest publishing house in Germany, now freelance journalist, member of the Hamburg Parliament, senior policy spokeswoman senior.

On how to join …

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More mobility for older people in Hamburg

IMG_7270Recently, the Hamburg-based Green 60plus had a video conference with the State Working Group on Transport and Traffic – and our Green Transport/Traffic Senator Anjes Tjarks took part in it. The main topic was the Green 60plus bus paper – but at first there was an introduction by Christa Möller to age-friendly city and mobility:

What we want in general are: well-lit footpaths and wide cycle paths, longer traffic light phases, i.e. by individual chips that extend the traffic light phases, plans for fully accessible walks, age-friendly benches that are not only in parks, but on the daily paths, accessibility in transport, no stumble traps on the trails, but footpaths, which are regularly upgraded and a free HVVcard upon voluntary by giving back the driver’s license.

You can find our paper – in German – with the specific wishes for barrier-free, age-appropriate bus rides here:

https://www.gruenealte.de/bus-10-punkte-plan/

The traffic senator sees many of our points already or soon implemented. What is still missing in our view is enough space for rollators and bicycles in the busses. Bicycles are important for older people, if they are not able to cope with part of the routes so well and drive a bit by bus, then continue cycling.

We learned that the introduction of an anonymous prepaid card, which can be used to pay at vending machines on the bus, is being planned. We are also working on a special check-in and -out offer that is billed via an app and always automatically calculates, which ticket is the cheapest for the journey to make.

In our opinion, the question of communicating with the drivers of busses has not yet been solved. There is a camera in the bus, but when someone with a walking disability enters the bus, that is not enough. Drivers often go too fast because they don’t notice the problems. This would be for example a special call button which so far is only available for wheelchair-users. That’s a good way to expand it.

And there should be more seats at the stops. So far often only three people can sit. In addition, the seats are very narrow and there are no backs which would make it easier to get up. We remain in conversation with our Green politicians.

Author: Ursula Jäger

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Invitation to a videoconference on the UN world seniors day

hamburg-soll-age-friendly-city-4Invitation from Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Green 60plus, Hamburg to a videoconference about age-friendly cities and communities.

Dear all, I would like to invite you to a very special conference with top-class speakers. Conference-language will be German.

We want lively neighborhoods and good local supplies, new places to meet, new forms of living, barrier-free mobility and modern care and neighborhood concepts, analog and digital – the latter especially now in times of Corona!

Our goal: Age-friendly cities and communities
What still needs to be done for this? How is it going elsewhere?
We discuss this with experts from many other countries and cities. And for the first time, we also have an expert from the World Health Organization, which founded the network in 2010.

On International World Seniors Day, October 1, 2020, from 4 to 6 p.m.

With:

  • Manfred Huber, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, responsible for the network of Age friendly cities and communities, Copenhagen
  • Christa Möller-Metzger, member of the Hamburg Parliament Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen, spokeswoman for seniors
  • Evelyn Hunziker, Head of the Age Competence Center in Bern (Switzerland), member of the AfC network
  • Kordula Schulz-Asche, Member of the Bundestag Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, spokeswoman for care policy and senior citizens policy, Berlin
  • Karin Haist, Körber Foundation, Age and Demography Department, Hamburg
  • Kyra Springer, coordinator in the sponsoring association aktiv55plus in Radevormwald, the first AfC city in Germany
  • Harald Wölter, member of the GREEN council group in Münster, actively campaigning for AfC recognition for the city

Gabriele Heise will moderate.
The link to participate via Zoom:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83217419126?pwd=aVA2RWo0NDB3VlBZRnROcUZRRlZiQT09
Questions or comments can be sent via chat function or by email. Information: christa.moeller@hamburg.gruene.de

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8-point plan for age-friendly local public transport

IMG_6399Traffic-Notes from Chris in Germany:

In Hamburg, the group Green 60plus is discussing their wishes for the equipment of the new generation of buses in local public transport. This is our plan – what do you think? How about the public transport in your town or country?

1. Barrier-free entry: low-floor technology with mdb_277636_easy-bus_920x690_cp_51x0_1108x793lowering of the entry at the bus stop, so that people with walking disabilities and people with walkers, wheelchairs and prams can get on and off without outside help. In order for the bus driver to have an overview, a wide low-floor entry at the front of the driver would be good. If necessary, apply a program for adjusting the curb heights.IMG_6025

2. More space for rollators, wheelchairs and prams.

3. Some special seats, preferably near the entrance: wider, with side support, raised seat, seat with space for a rollator in front of it; Colored floor and seat markings show the way; sufficiently widened passage.

4. Sufficiently large monitors with information about stops, routing, transfer and connection options and acoustic information about stops.

5. Sufficient handholds, accessible even for small people and requirement button at the entrance to request that the driver only drives off when the guest sits. Helpful for this: camera for the bus driver for every entry.

6. Of course: emission-free buses!

7. Additional conductor on the bus: cashing in, assisting, ensuring safety.

8. All stops are covered and have plenty of seats.

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