Getting personal

SmartMove project promotes green transport in rural areas

June 3, 2014 | By Greg Spencer
SmartMoveSign
Photos: Roman Klementschitz

Public transport isn't the first ride of choice in the countryside, but it could become a more popular one under a new EU project. The SmartMove project encourages a shift from car to public transport through personalised marketing campaigns focusing on the needs of travellers.

The project builds on successful campaigns carried out in Waldviertel, a rural region northwest of Vienna. Based on these experiences, it can be assumed that individualised door-to-door information campaigns typically result in 15-20 percent of the target audience switching from private car to public transport.

SmartMove adapts personalised marketing campaigns to active mobility consultancies (AMCs). The project will carry out eight simultaneous campaigns in eight rural regions in Austria, Germany, Greece, Poland, Spain and Portugal. In each region, hundreds of households will be contacted.

AMC sets the usual public transport marketing techniques on their head. Instead of asking travellers to inform themselves, transport providers (e.g. public transport companies, travel agencies or local authorities) take their message to travellers. The target residents are provided with tailor-made travel information and asked how public transport can work for them. Problems and difficulties in using public transport are identified in order to improve the system.

Each of the target regions has a different set of challenges and characteristics. The idea behind this approach is: if the campaigns succeed in these different regions, they can easily be transferred to scores of other regions throughout Europe.

SmartMove, funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe programme, is carried out by eight partners and will run for 30 months. By getting people to switch to more sustainable, climate-friendly transport, Europe can make a big step toward targets for reducing pollution and CO2 emissions.

SmartMoveBusAMC campaigns are supported by the promotion of 'public transport feeder systems', which enable people to connect to their nearest public transport routes. This helps bridge a common obstacle in rural areas - the perception that public transport stops are too far away. Feeder systems may involve taxi-buses, car pools or cycling networks, for example.

The Regional Environmental Center (REC) is involved in the SmartMove project as a work package leader for marketing and dissemination. The REC is responsible for developing a whole range of online and print products for SmartMove, and also for promoting the project across Europe.

Details are available at the project website, www.smartmove-project.eu.