May 2, 2014

Low costs, big results

SmartMove is experimenting with unconventional forms of rural mobility services and attracting new passengers to public transport through individualised travel marketing techniques.

The recently launched SmartMove project brings together 12 organisations from all corners of Europe, including public transport providers, local governments, universities and international consultants. What unites them is a challenge that is increasingly being faced throughout Europe: more and more people are moving into cities, and those few who remain in rural areas are usually left with only one available mode of transportation: the private car.

It’s a vicious circle indeed. With low population densities it becomes very difficult to organise an attractive and cost-efficient shared mobility system. When only three buses run each day, the vicious circle closes: the remaining few passengers have little choice but to opt for the faster and more convenient private car. Leaving aside the issues of economics, health and environment, it’s clearly in everyone’s interest to be able to choose from a variety of mobility modes to get them from A to B, whether bicycle, shared taxi, bus, private car or any other form of motorised or non-motorised transport.

This is exactly where the SmartMove project comes in. First, examples of innovative mobility services are identified. These are referred to as “public transport feeder networks” — that is, any mode that conveys passengers to backbone bus or train routes. By the autumn, a compendium will be published on the project website, providing full access to all the collected examples.

Once these attractive mobility services are in place (the project is testing them in eight locations), an innovative form of individualised travel marketing, known as active mobility consultancy, will be used to collect feedback from existing and potential public transport users, and to encourage car drivers to consider switching to other forms of mobility. Marketing campaigns of this kind have already proved very effective: in earlier trials, between 19 and 33 percent of the local residents who participated decided to switch from their car to another form of mobility.

In this first issue of Transfer, the biannual project newsletter, we take a look at examples of such activities, which we hope you will find inspiring in your own situation. To enhance the transfer of knowledge we have also created a video page of our experiences.

Although the project is only in its start-up phase, a lot of work is already being done behind the scenes. During the autumn we expect to publish a variety of materials on the project website. Have a browse, and pass on the link to others!

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