The Transport Federation Oberlausitz-Niederschlesien GmbH (VON) acts as the comprehensive public transport coordinator in the administrative districts Görlitz and Bautzen (situated in the German federal state of Saxony). Moreover, it is responsible for the public transport connections to the neighboring German districts in Saxony as well as for cross-border connections to Poland and the Czech Republic. Another task of VON is to increase public transport usage via marketing activities. (Image source: VON.)
The district of Görlitz, wherein the SmartMove implementation area is located, is the easternmost district of Germany. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions of Saxony: 260,000 inhabitants live on 2,106 km², which means a density of 124 inhabitants/km² (Saxony: 221 inh./km²; 2014). It comprises 53 municipalities, among them 14 cities.
Between 1990 and 2014 the population declined by 29%. This negative trend is expected to continue, but there are also some municipalities recording a growing population. The general population decrease is mainly caused by the fact that young people are leaving the area. In 2014, the proportion of people older than 64 years is about 28% and it could rise up to 36% in 2030. This demographic change has strong impacts on the labor market and on the mobility behavior of the population in the region. Currently a large number of inhabitants are commuting to other regions.
The public transport masterplan for the region of the district Görlitz defines the supply as follows:
In (road-based) public transport in the district of Görlitz approximately 5.6 million timetable-kilometers are registered in 2014, which corresponds to a sum of 17-22 timetable kilometers per inhabitant per year (in the different operation areas of the public transport companies).
As part of the SmartMove project, an AMC campaign has been implemented promoting a lowly frequented bus line that connects three rural municipalities with the district town Görlitz. Within the campaign, participants have been recruited by mail – they could return a postage prepaid reply postcard – and by personal contact, for example on markets. As active measures, the public transport was promoted during meetings of rural associations, on weekly markets and on a Christmas market. Participants were called by phone and asked for their information need. Some of them also used the online questionnaire. Information packages were then sent by mail, including general brochures and timetables, individual information as well as small gifts.
9 percent of the initially contacted 1,800 households expressed their interest in participating in the campaign. The feedback following the active mobility consultancies was positive, with 91 percent of participants saying they became better informed about public transport. 14 percent of car owners said they felt motivated to reduce their car use and 12 percent stated that they already increased their use of public transport thanks to the campaign. The reduced car use stemming from increased ridership on public transport means a reduction of CO2 emissions of about 3 tons per year in the VON region. Another impact of the campaign was that it gave local public transport users and non-users an opportunity to give feedback and suggestions for improvement to local authorities and transport operators.