Rapid urbanisation and demographic changes lead to low public transport demand in rural areas. As a result, those living there often have to rely on private cars. This in turn contributes to high CO2 emissions and environmental noise. At the same time, it hinders the participation of people who do not own a car in everyday social and economic activities for which commuting is necessary.
To foster the participation of citizens in rural areas in all aspects of economic and social life and promote more sustainable forms of transport, SMARTA 2, an EU-funded project, puts rural mobility into practice. SMARTA 2 supports four rural areas to set up or expand shared mobility services and link them with local public transport services. In particular, during the life cycle of the project, Trikala (Greece), East Tyrol (Austria), Brasov (Romania) and Águeda (Portugal) will experiment – as pilot areas – with existing or new mobility solutions, such as carpooling and carsharing services that are interconnected with their local public transport system, under a holistic mobility ecosystem.
To ensure that these services are relevant and correspond to the needs of local areas, we implement bottom-up procedures by meeting with stakeholder groups and citizens to match their concerns and expectations. In addition, to communicate to the general public about the services, we use elements of behavioural science, including ‘nudges’. These refer to soft interventions that are non-coercive, easy and cheap to implement, while they also hold particular promise for their effectiveness to steer people towards the desired behaviour.
While COVID-19 has caused a slight delay in our pilot services, these are being launched progressively. Therefore, stay tuned to expect our first experiences and results from the ground.