Waldviertel - Wachau is a rural region in the northwest of the province of Lower Austria and has a population of around 220,000. Agriculture is the dominant sector, with tourism playing only a local role. The region has no clear centre, although the biggest town is Zwettl, with 11,100 inhabitants. The Austrian capital Vienna is the main destination for employment and higher education, while journeys to Krems (the centre of the southeast of the region) and St. Pölten (the provincial capital) are also frequent among the population. In 2008, only 13 percent of all work-day trips in Lower Austria were made by public transport. Within the Waldviertel - Wachau region, the share of public transport use is even lower (10 percent).
Only 15 percent of inhabitants in Waldviertel - Wachau own a public transport season ticket. The number of cars in the region is higher than in Lower Austria as a whole, and the number of bicycles lower (Landesregierung, 2009). Based on the low modal share of public transport, it can be concluded that there is much room for improvement.
The public transport system in Waldviertel - Wachau is characterised by a combination of inter- and intra-regional railway lines and bus lines feeding those railway lines, partly operated as demand responsive systems. The buses operating as “Waldviertel-Linie” or “Wachau-Linie” comprises two main lines and several branch lines. The main centres of public transport in the area are the district towns of Melk and Krems. Most of the smaller transport lines are connecting the villages with either Melk or Krems from where there are train connections to Linz/St. Pölten/Vienna (from Melk) and Vienna (from Krems). These lines are not serviced by a single public enterprise but are operated by a group of three private ventures on behalf of the federal state of Lower Austria since 01.09.2014. The three companies operating these lines are “Gschwindl”, “Zuklin” and “Pichelbauer”.
In the implementation area a full AMC campaign was carried out, which included dialogue marketing in selected municipalities along the bus lines in the focus of the campaign and supporting active measures such as information stands, test tickets for the public transport, focus groups and stakeholder involvement as well as bicycle try out days.
For the dialogue marketing 8992 people were contacted with an initial letter, of which 3235 returned the answer post card and/or further communication could be established via telephone. 956 residents of the target area were willing to participate in the campaign (11% of all contacted).
Based on discussion with local stakeholders in the beginning of the project, it was fixed, which events the SmartMove project should participate with its active measures. The Easter fair in the Leiben castle, which takes place two weekends before Easter time, was clearly recommended as the biggest event in the region in spring time. As second event the electro mobility try out day was selected to present the SmartMove project as e-bikes and pedelecs were identified as a possible solution to bridge the last/first mile in a rural area offering a less dense bus stop network only.
During the campaign the framework conditions remained unchanged, which allows the conclusion, any changes in the transport demand in the region is mainly driven by the impact of the AMC campaign. The response of the dialogue marketing part of the campaign was 11% of all contacted persons. Additionally another 1870 persons could be contacted during active measures during the AMC campaign.
The main impacts of the AMC campaign are (based on the interviews with the participants after the AMC campaign):
Photo credit: Roman Klementschitz