Switzerland has a well developed transport infrastructure with an interwoven and highly sophisticated road and rail network. Even the peripheral regions, which are the focus of this study, boast a comprehensively developed transport system and public transport network. These regions possess – in comparison to peripheral regions in foreign countries – a high standard of development and quality. Operations and maintenance of this to some extent sparsely used transport infrastructure are time-consuming, the costs for the supply of public transport with little utilization are high, and the funds available are limited. On the other hand a good provision of mobility is seen as an important prerequisite for the development of the peripheral regions.
Against this background, the goal of this research project is to demonstrate how optimizations and therefore savings in transport infrastructure and transport supply can be achieved with specific adaptations to the provision of mobility. It should demonstrate strategic options for the peripheral regions in order to achieve these optimizations, without constricting development opportunities in the peripheral regions. Already the guiding question shows two crucial challenges:
1. The peripheral regions are not homogenous entities and therefore the needs and requirements of the various regions differ in terms of the provision of mobility.
2. The interdependencies between regional development and traffic accessibility or the provision of mobility are complex and context-sensitive. Generalizable conclusions are therefore difficult to derive.
The latter challenge is shown by the literature review on this topic. It becomes clear that high traffic accessibility and provision of mobility can have very diverse and in some cases negative effects on regional development. Improvements in mobility result in distribution effects. These effects can result in advantages for regional economies, but also, at least in the short term, disadvantages. The strengths and weaknesses of the effects are dependent on a wide range of factors, such as: the type of transport link (train or road), the economic structure and productivity of the firms in the connected regions, as well as the general attractiveness of the affected residential and business locations.
The result of both of these findings is that in order for there to be an adaptation of the level or the standards of the provision of mobility, which is in line with the requirements – in this study the term “mobility standard” will be used – the regions need to be examined accordant with their positioning in location competition. Furthermore, it is also recognized that the higher the current standard already is, measures to improve the provision of mobility have lower effects on regional development. In Switzerland, which is outstandingly well connected in terms of transport systems, only limited regional impulses for development can be expected from adaptations in the provision of mobility. It is also important to note that the decision of which standard of mobility provision a region needs cannot be made when it is viewed in isolation. The region’s decisions will be affected by the decisions made by nei
In order to cope with the complexity of the interdependencies and the heterogeneity of the peripheral regions, a conceptual model (“thinking model”) is developed to derive the above-introduced strategic options. This conceptual model allows the derivation of specific suggestions for the adaptation of mobility standards for each individual type of region and the assessment of their effects on the regional development.
This study differentiates between the following six types of regions:
- Industrial dominated regions/areas (“industrial region”)
- Service oriented regions/areas (“service region”)
- Agricultural dominated regions/areas (“agricultural region”)
- Mass tourism oriented regions/areas (“mass tourism region”)
- Soft/alternative tourism oriented regions/areas (“alternative tourism region”)
- Residential positioned regions/areas (“residential regions”)
The developed conceptual model is composed of the three modules:
Module 1: The impact matrix shows qualitatively the relationship between the various standards of development of transport infrastructure or public transport supply and mobility needs. The mobility needs are specified by means of the five indicators: travel and transport costs, travel / transport time, access / availability, security and comfort / attractiveness (= “indicators of the impact level”). The standards of development are defined on the basis of indicators at the performance and design level , which refer to concrete elements of transport infrastructure (e.g. road width, drainage) of the public transport supply (e.g. frequency of departures, hours of operation).
Module 2: The table of relevance shows the specific mobility needs of the six types of regions. The five indicators that reflect these needs are of various significance according to how the region is structured and in what location competition it is. Through the combination of the impact matrix and table of relevance, the standards of the public transport supply and/or the transport infrastructure for the considered types of regions are put in relation to the regional development. The matrix shows which indicators at the performance and design level are less or more important for the development of a specific type of region and therefore could be fixed at a lower or higher level accordingly.
The knowledge gained is summarized in the following points:
- There is a need for action beginning with a high level of provision and development in international comparison.
- The mobility standards under consideration are in terms of the “level of provision and development” and not in terms of fixed norms and standardizations. It is not about an adaptation of the “technical regulations” in the road and public transport sector specifically for peripheral regions.
- Concrete recommendations for realizable measures are suggested by the three strategic options described in this report:
- Differentiation of construction/finishing standards for road infrastructure
- Differentiation of maintenance standards for road infrastructure
- Needs-oriented supply of public transport
- The interdependencies between traffic accessibility / provision of mobility and regional development are very complex. Therefore, the deduction of generalized statements about meaningful measures is limited.
- In the case that no relevant negative effects on the development prospects of peripheral regions can be accepted, then the potential for cost optimization in the transport sector of peripheral regions is altogether limited. This pertains particularly to the area of “alternative services” in public transport.
- The possibilities for cost savings that ultimately exist in a region are highly dependent on the context and can only be determined through the specific application of the considerations in this study for the concerned regions.
- Further analyses on this topic on a general level will only result in minor gains in insight and are therefore unnecessary. Deeper analyses on the concrete implementation of the strategic options developed in this study should be carried out.