Initial situation: Public transport in urban areas as well as long-distance trains connecting these successfully gain more and more customers from wider target groups. In contrary, rural and suburban public transport remains at market shares about only 10-20%, representing a certain bottleneck for a comprehensive change of mobility behaviour towards ecologically and socially more sustainable modes of transport. The main reason for poor popularity of short-range public transport outside major cities are inherently unattractive time losses for access, waiting and transportation itself on a wide range of origin-destination trips. Furthermore, the problem is made worse by a downward spiral of decreasing usage and service reductions.
Within the exploration study "SynArea" the following innovative solution approach had been examined:
- Vehicle-sharing system, covering whole rural or suburban regions using light electric vehicles, optimally designed for this purpose (user-dependent maximum speed, possibility of coupling)
- Downsizing and optimization of scheduled public transport
- Demand-responsive paratransit services for target groups not able to drive themselves, covering the whole region.
During the exploration study, the technological issues of the novel light electric vehicles as well as the network of sharing bases and the transformation of public transport services had been drafted to the extent that a first feasibility assessment became possible, showing the perspective of viability without additional public financing. Aims and innovation level: Following the path from the exploration study towards market launch, there are two main objectives of the project:
- Advanced development of the innovative light electric vehicles
- Transportation demand forecast and examination of financial viability with improved precision
Compared to the state of the art, the main innovation in the field of vehicle engineering are light electric vehicles, which can be coupled to a train with propulsion of each individual vehicle and track true following of all vehicles, enabling the usage of trains of coupled vehicles, requiring not more driving skills than a single vehicle. In the field of transportation planning and demand modelling, the main innovation is a quantitative survey of user preferences and its consideration in the transportation demand model. Expected findings and results: As project results, there are expected reliable data about the expectable effects on modal share, trip and vehicle distribution as well as costs, revenues and funding potentials, furthermore the prove of functionality of track true following of the coupled light electric vehicles.