Research aimed at maintaining the autonomy of passengers when cars are replaced by public transport2022-10-26
Public transport is an important part of a sustainable and equal society. In order to accelerate this transition, new knowledge and more research is needed. A new collaboration project is now under way at Service Research Center (CTF) at Karlstad University, aiming to develop new knowledge related to dynamic public transport, and to understand the conditions for changes in modes of transportation.
The research is conducted in collaboration with Region Värmland, and it is based on two pilot studies where dynamic public transport — sometimes called demand-responsive transport — was implemented in certain cities, in order to examine if or when this type of solution can increase accessibility and act as an energy efficient alternative. A particular emphasis is placed on the publics’ sense of autonomy (the right to self-determination) and perceived accessibility in relation to new, dynamic transportation solutions.
– For a more extensive transformation to a society with more efficient transportation, we need more knowledge about the potential consequences for individual people, says Lars E. Olsson, project manager and professor of Psychology at CTF. Public transport is a vital function in a society with long-term sustainability and equality. In order to better meet the demand, utilise resources more efficiently and satisfy the needs of the public, new and more flexible and dynamic public transport services will be tested and evaluated.
The research will contribute to an increased knowledge of what effect dynamic public transport has on the users’ sense of autonomy in everyday travel. New solutions can be designed to both improve energy efficiency and achieve a sense of self-determination and freedom.
– The project contributes to an increased knowledge about flexible transport solutions, as well as suggestions for how to further develop such solutions to attract and retain new users, says Robert Sahlberg, business developer at Region Värmland. Research and development is conducted in collaboration between CTF and Region Värmland, as well as the transport service providers that carry out the dynamic tests in Värmland. Development and evaluation of dynamic public transport in urban areas are tied to current and relevant research.
Could innovative public transport solutions match the autonomy of a car?
Despite increased knowledge of the downsides of motoring, there are still large knowledge gaps when it comes to effects of new and innovative solutions aimed at reducing motoring to promote more energy-efficient transportation.
– Cars are associated with freedom and self-determination — the definition of the autonomy of the individual, says Lars. E. Olsson. Compared to the car, public transportation is more energy efficient, but with regard to autonomy it has certain limitations. Using public transportation requires adjustments and reduces individual freedom, which could affect the quality of life for the passengers in the long term. Restoring autonomy by means of dynamic public transport solutions could yield positive effects. One vital question is whether innovative public transport solutions can match the autonomy of a car.
The Project “Autonomy and everyday travel: Dynamic public transport for reduced dependency on cars” (Autonomi och vardagligt resande: Dynamisk kollektivtrafik för minskat bilberoende) is carried out by CTF and has been granted two-year funding by the Swedish Energy Agency. The project is conducted in collaboration with the public transport agency in Region Värmland and the public transport providers who carry out the dynamic test projects in Säffle and Karlstad.