Transport and mobility will remain key prerequisites for a well-functioning society in the future. At the same time, the demand for transport and mobility is significantly determined by developments in society. It is precisely this interweaving of social conditions and individual mobility preferences that confronts developers of future transport systems with major challenges.
Changing demographic trends are unmistakeable. By 2050, more than one third of Austrians will be over 60 years old (compared to 22% in 2005). Many of these elderly people will be oriented to private automobile transport, given their high level of driving licence ownership, but it can also be anticipated that a growing number of the elderly will be dependent on public transport due to their physical condition. Today’s transport system is geared mainly to the needs of the middle-aged population. In the future it will be critical to place more emphasis on examining and meeting the needs of an aging society.
Changes in mobility patterns are also clear. The demand for mobility continues to increase among all population groups while spatial and temporal mobility patterns are changing to reflect new social trends and development patterns. Trends including more flexible lifestyles and working times, high car availability and the increasing number of single-person households, all significantly influence mobility patterns. Modern telecommunications can only partly replace physical mobility. The growth of cities and towns into urban agglomerations not only overloads local transport networks, but also leads to migration and increasingly to the erosion of transport infrastructure in rural areas. The public transport sector is losing formerly dependent customers (e.g. students) and is becoming less and less economically viable in shrinking catchment areas. In the future it will be critical to develop more flexible public transport concepts that guarantee a level of sustainable mobility while placing a stronger emphasis on cost control and efficiency.
In the context of these social challenges, specific attention must be paid to the particular mobility needs and requirements of the transport disadvantaged. Mobility must be provided equitably, it must not become a privilege of certain population groups. The concept of inclusive transport – incorporating the needs of all members of society including the elderly, women, children, youths, young adults, persons with restricted mobility and less mobile persons – must be
ways2go is the Austrian action line to develop sustainable mobility solutions in the context of challenges posed by future demographic and social changes. The program’s goal is to develop and raise awareness of innovative new technologies, systems and organizational structures designed to meet these significant challenges.
The action line ways2go places its main emphasis on passenger transport. It is aimed at expanding the knowledge base in relation to future mobility and transport issues, and at making a vital contribution to the development of user-driven, sustainable transport systems and mobility solutions. The initiative will focus on ideas for creating inclusive and socially sustainable mobility that meets the highest possible standards for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability,
To meet the daily mobility requirements of the future, we need to especially encourage technologies and integrative problem solutions that are geared towards reducing car dependency. To that end, improvements are needed in the accessibility, availability and usability of public transport. This requires both incremental technological changes and radical innovations. Today, Austrian companies rank highly amongst the world-wide market leaders in the field of local and regional public transport systems. ways2go is therefore also aiming specifically at further expanding the Austrian position in this field by supporting groundbreaking contributions to meet future demands in passenger transport.
- expanding the knowledge base relating to changing mobility needs and mobility requirements in the context of societal changes, spatial developments and their impacts on the overall transport system;
- creating transport systems accessible for all to safeguard and increase usage, taking into account current and future concerns (especially of elderly people and people with special needs);
- technologies and components to improve accessibility, availability, safety and reliability of transport systems;
- strategies for reducing automobile dependency; innovative concepts for pedestrians and cyclists under the framework of local-scale individualised transport solutions;
- safeguarding mobility in rural areas through innovative and flexible transport concepts at the interface between public transport and private transport;
- new mobility information, traffic management and travel information systems for optimal choice of transport mode and routes;
- awareness-raising measures designed to support sustainable mobility practices and lifestyles and to change the culture of mobility.
The action line ways2go was further developed in late 2007 into an impulse programme; it is planned right from the start that the future programme line should have a strong trans-national orientation and be coordinated with key European stakeholders. The first call for proposals for this programme line was scheduled for the first half of 2008.
In the course of three programme calls for proposals between 2008 and 2010 251 project proposals with a total project volume of 54 million € were submitted by more than 800 organisations. 97 projects with a project volume of around 21 million €, submitted by more than 350 organisations, were selected for funding (funding volume of approx. 15.5 million €).
By means of a systematic analysis, the innovation impacts of the programme in the relevant thematic fields were presented in the form of an „interim innovation report“ and discussed and/or reflected upon by experts. Although many of the projects selected in the ways2go calls for proposals were in progress until the end of 2012