Moving Things & People

Mobility project sees beyond the pandemic

Caroline Wendt
September 21, 2021

How is it to work with a mobility project when society looks completely different from what it used to when the project was planned? The ongoing pandemic and the close-downs that resulted from it led to more people working from home while others take the car to the office and less people use public transport. That has, of course, an impact on the project. It is difficult to test some of the new ideas such as, for example, a carpool service, village busses and busses that would have taken village residents to shops or pubs. Participants of the Mobility Forum Webinar in March 2021 could brainstorm about which changes will last and how to make sure that positive changes remain.

In March Cross Mobility project participants discussed with similar projects how it is to facilitate a mobility project during covid-19. The webinar was hosted by Anna Thormann from the Danish Gate 21. The question that led through the webinar was ”How is it to do a project in a world that looks different from when the project plan was made?”. The session started with participants investigating what will happen in the mobility field when the pandemic is over. In the first question the participants had to say how they think the pandemic influences the transport habits of people. 38% predicted a fundamental change while 62% only predict a temporary change. In the second question, 62% of the participants showed that they are only a little concerned about reaching their mobility project goals. In return, 27% showed great concern of completing their targets and 7% answered that there is no impact. The third question asked about the amount of adjustments done in the mobility project during Corona time. The majority made adjustments while some of the participants did not need to change anything.

Infographic by Gate 21

KomILand is a project about sustainable access to the countryside and smaller towns through combined mobility services in the Västra Götaland region. The services that are offered by KomILand include the purchase of public transport tickets, a carpool, an e-bike pool and a village bus called ”byabuss” that transports more people. Additionally, there is the possibility of borrowing the neighbour’s car and to use a carpool with fixed routes, called rounds. All these options are available via an app and the costs for these services come in a bundled bill.  

- KomILand is really strongly affected by covid-19 since we couldn’t work at all with the local mobility due to the pandemic. We would have been at different events, or just near the local shop to attract users. None of that was possible. Our local collaboration partners, village communities or associations are also seriously affected since they can’t run their activities. All in all, the situation is unfortunately that that our services are used on really small scale right now, says Magnus Fredricson.

– We have learnt a lot of lessons and developed the services but in the important part, working with the users, we almost learned nothing, he says. Follow-up research was barely possible as well. We are working for it and hope that can we continue the project for 24 months more to get the user perspective in. Then, we will offer KomILand in more places than the existing 3.

Frida Tiberini works at Sjöbo municipality and at Tomelilla municipality and pointed out how important it is to keep the countryside perspective alive.  

– There is a shortage of alternatives for the one who doesn’t live in the city. Many things are tested first in cities where you can earn money and can make it a success. We, who protect the countryside, need all actors to talk to each other and highlight the resources that are there. It can be that there are many cars for use in a neighbor association and that there is a good neighbourhood ambiance to develop further.

Anders Bengtsson, from the department of Sustainable Growth, Lund municipality, has gained some interesting experiences together with real estate companies Medicon Village and Ideon Science Park.

– This is a really office-dense area which changed a lot with the pandemic; with many who left the office to work from home. Those who kept on working from their office took the car more often or the bike and not so often the public transport. The new habit to work from home makes the real estate owners ponder about what future offices will look like. Maybe one wants to have less office space and maybe they should be differently designed. In addition, with the tram has come another alternative now during the pandemic. New flows and needs developed to solve both the first mile and the last mile since many need a way to get to and away from the tram. Now it is important that the municipality, employers and real estate owners get the grip on which changes will last and which instruments we can use to encourage the positive changes in the future. That applies for instance to the increased biking and the reduced interest in parking spots.

Afterwards, Anna Thormann summarised the insights of the meeting concerning how mobility projects navigated the covid-19-pandemic:

1. The pandemic implies that we need to manage many emotions, even within transport – and that requires more communication in our projects.

2. Our new daily life shows that we can adapt – and that is maybe a momentum that we can use within the area of transportation?

3. Our citizen dialogue became digital – does that mean we are missing something?

4. Public transport has gotten a negative touch – we need to change that.

5. A flexible use of the transport system is here to stay. Virtual meetings mean that we will work to a greater extent from home and travel on less occasions than previously.

6. The different ways in which we organise our transport and our worklife can provide us with knowledge about a wide variety of alternatives that work for different target groups. The diversity increased.

Translation: Christin Scheller


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