The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis on which Switzerland's traffic problems might be solved, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, ecological limits, and economic and social needs. The NRP 41 aimed to become a think-tank for sustainable transport policy.
Each one of the 54 projects belongs to one of the following six modules:
- Mobility: Socio-institutional Aspects
- Mobility: Socio-economical Aspects
- Environment: Tools and Models for Impact Assessments
- Political and Economic Strategies and Prerequisites
- Traffic Management: Potentials and Impacts
- Technologies: Potentials and Impacts
- Synthesis Projects
This survey investigates the question as to how new Telecommunications Media (TCM) are being used by companies for internal and external communication, and what impact they have on traffic and the environment. In this context, two issues are of interest - the potential for rationalising and substituting the movement of goods and people and, on the other hand, the possible traffic-inducing effects of TCM. The study focuses on the impact of telematics on business and goods traffic.
The core of the study is a survey among companies. The survey is based on a questionnaire sent to 840 companies in Switzerland (with a return rate of 31 per cent), complemented by discussions with experts and by comprehensive interviews.
To a great extent, the prevailing general conditions determine how much the rationalising and substituting potential of telematics has been exhausted. To date, transport providers have not established a true cost scenario, and transport costs are low in relation to overall product costs. Therefore, they play a minor role in considerations concerning a company's choice of location or its organisational concept. Travelling costs are also not sufficiently crucial to further promote the employment of TCM.
The reasons for communication and the importance of the interlocutor are the most important factors when decisions have to be made whether to meet in person or use telecommunication. A significant increase in energy prices could have a positive influence on the substitution effects of telematics, and this would also noticeably increase the proportion of transport costs in overall costs. A dramatic increase of airport fees, and restrictions of take-off and landing periods, could make business travel by air less attractive.
If city centres become less easily accessible because of overburdened infrastructures, higher fees for radically reduced parking facilities, and even access restrictions, then all these would promote the utilisation of telematics as a substitute for traffic. With regard to motorised individual transport and sustainability, telematics applications can make a sensible contribution if, on the one hand, road safety and the capacity utilisation of vehicles could be increased and, on the other hand, the growth in volume of motorised individual transport could be decelerated. Telematics could also be employed for electronic road pricing in order to control transport demand more efficiently in relation to regional and local infrastructures, and use price increases, if at all, in order to reduce traffic volumes in general.
However, the usefulness of traffic control and management systems, applied to enable higher traffic volumes on the existing road network, needs to be questioned. These systems primarily increase the speed and comfort of motorised individual transport and further reduce the incentive to change to public transport. With regard to sustainable transport development, in our opinion the application of telematics for increased capacity on existing roads would only make sense if further developments of the road network can be avoided. 'Software instead of hardware', for instance, could mean – transport telematics instead of a third tunnel at
- Transport telematics should always aim to increase information, safety, speed and comfort in public transport, as well as to give buses and trams consistent preference over individual transport. The performance and attractiveness of public transport must be increased if the modal split is to change. Here we see the best opportunities to create a more sustainable transport system through the use of telematics.
- The usefulness of traffic control and management systems, applied to enable higher traffic volumes on the existing road network, needs to be questioned. These systems primarily increase the speed and comfort of motorised individual transport and further reduce the incentive to change to public transport. With regard to sustainable transport development, in our opinion the application of telematics for increased capacity on existing roads would only make sense if further developments of the road network can be avoided. 'Software instead of hardware', for instance, could mean – transport telematics instead of a third tunnel at Baregg.
- In view of the developing international co-operation and today’s conditions such as transport costs, free choice of transport means, etc., we assume that – apart from rationalisation and substitution effects in individual areas – change effects through the potential and application of telematics will generally prevail. In other words - modern communication media enable companies to develop their business relationships and co-operation with partners and competitors over considerable distances, resulting in further increases in business travel and goods transport.