Commuters - not bargain hunters - on Basel's second international tramline
The second international tramline run by BVB will not become a shuttle for shopping tourists, unlike the line to Germany.
From next weekend onwards, the BVB tramline No. 3 will travel along a new 3.1 km long extension, which ends at the railway station in Saint Louis, the French border town. The project, which includes a new park and ride station, cost 91,3 million Swiss francs. The financing was shared between the canton of Basel-Stadt, which paid 33,6 million, the French government (57,7 million francs) and the Swiss federal government, which covered 35 per cent of the project.
Public transport aimed at 30,000 French border commuters
The tramline, which comes from Birsfelden and goes through the city centre before joining the new section to France, was extended primarily for the use of border commuters from Alsace. The aim is to encourage them to use public transport rather than cars.
In December 2014, the No. 8 tram was extended to the German border town of Weil am Rhein for similar reasons. The «eight» however developed into a shuttle service for shopping tourists, especially as of January 2015, when the Swiss franc suddenly became stronger the Euro – much to the annoyance of Basel's shop keepers. In the first year after the tramline was extended, around 50 per cent of passengers were shopping tourists while 10 per cent were commuters.
This figure may have altered in the last year, especially after the Swiss half-price ticket as well as the general tram ticket became invalid on this line. The strengthening of the euro in the last months might also have deterred some bargain hunters from going on shopping tours to Weil am Rhein.
Contact points stretched to the limits as more psychological problems emerge among homeless
While Basel's unique city characters are tolerated as long as they remain calm, contact points are stretched to the limit due to their increasing psychological problems.
In the evenings, an elderly woman with a tape recorder and a tutu can often be seen looking for a spot in Steinenvorstadt to perform her bizarre dancing. Nobody knows where she comes from and where she goes. The «Schwarzer Peter» homeless organisation has around 400 people in its books. All of these people are registered there because they use the address of the charity to be contactable by post. At Barfüsserplatz, an elderly man regularly sells oranges. He roams around the city peacefully but nobody knows where he sleeps.
There is also a younger man who shouts at people in the evenings when waiting for the tram because he thinks the public is making the streets dirty. He is usually drunk and actually seeks contact with people, but it is hard to understand what he is saying.
Increasing cases of depression and persecution mania
The connection between homelessness and psychological problems is similar to the question «which came first, the chicken or the egg,» according to support workers from «Schwarzer Peter» writing in their new magazine, «Peter». The organisation has noticed that contact points are under increasing pressure.
«Many support workers are under the impression that their clients suffer more and more from psychological problems such as depression, persecution mania, or acute psychosis,» they write, adding that often the situation does not even improve after staying in a clinic.
Gassenküche (soup kitchen), Frauenoase (oasis for women), Notschlafstelle (emergency shelter), and the day centre at Wallstrasse are institutions earmarked by «high acceptance of unusual people with colourful life stories». It becomes difficult at the centre when the clients cannot achieve daily tasks, when they become loud or aggressive due to an acute psychological crisis, or when they insult or threaten visitors. The situation changed after the adjustment of the adult protection law four years ago, said Michel Steiner from «Schwarzer Peter». He said the law is a good thing since it became more difficult to refer someone to the psychiatric clinic against his or her own will.
Mario Dolder from Baselland qualified for Olympic Winter Games
Biathlete Mario Dolder, a member of the Baselland Olympic team from Zeglingen, came sixth in the 10km sprint in the Biathlon World Cup in Oestersund, Sweden on Saturday.
Mario Dolder, 27, came in 16 seconds after the Norwegian winner Tarjei Boe, a personal best which was enough to reach Olympic level. The Swiss Ski Association only accepts the best 15 athletes for the Olympic team.
He is the first athlete from Baselland to qualify for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, which will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It is also the first time Dolder was ranked in the top ten in the Biathlon world cup.
In the 12,5km pursuit race, which took place yesterday (Sunday) in Oestersund, Dolder was part of the leading group up to the last shooting stand before dropping to 27th position, however he remained the best among the Swiss athletes.
Two other members of the Baselland Olympic team - bobsleigh pilot Sabina Hafner and ice hockey player Sandra Thalmann - stand a good chance of qualifying for the winter games in Pyeongchang along with Mario Dolder.