New forms for mobility contracts, goods hubs, and self-driving minibuses are a few of the solutions being investigated and tested in two collaborative Swedish programmes.
– We have adopted a non-technological approach to this type of development and established that several other factors are necessary for it to be successful, says Jan Hellåker.
He is the chairperson for Drive Sweden, a strategic innovation programme that is working to promote development towards sustainable mobility goods and solutions. They have identified five areas where they believe change is necessary to achieve a more sustainable transport system: development of policy and regulations, user involvement, social planning, digital infrastructure, and business models.
Hellåker is often asked which of these areas is most important. He always answers that they are interlinked and that many different factors are involved.
– We are trying to achieve that people will decide to make improvements themselves, reducing the number of privately-owned vehicles. Globally, time utilisation for a car is four to five per cent, and they occupy significant street space, says Jan Hellåker.
Mobility as a service requires a sizable shift
One way of doing this could be through a range of contracts and subscriptions for mobility services, i.e. the opportunity to purchase your entire journey from one place. However, the means of transport could range from the future’s autonomous vehicles to public transportation, carpools and rental bikes. The aim is shared journeys, efficient energy use and smooth transfers.
However, this requires a relatively radical cultural change from the present day and necessitates a significant shift among those who travel and those who offer these journeys.
– If you have a customer relationship, you are reluctant to let it go. But, for the best of the system, it’s important to work with the overall picture, says Jan Hellåker.
He also states that traditional vehicle manufacturers will need to find solutions and accept that they will not sell as many cars in years to come but will need to find other ways of generating income.
– In general, we’re trying to move towards more combined travelling. Combining means of transportation can make travel cheaper, more sustainable, and more efficient in terms of time.
Hellåker says that one Drive Sweden project that has had rapid results is Stockholm’s self-driving minibuses. It started as a pilot project in Kista five years ago, but the service took just a few months to go fully commercial in Barkarby, where there are now three self-driving buses.
– Once regulations allow public transport without drivers, operating costs will drop considerably. More demand-governed public transport will further improve accessibility, says Hellåker.
New business ideas being tested in Gothenburg
Participants in the Gothenburg Green City Zone project are working on testing, developing and scaling up their business ideas for emission-free transport. Some tested ideas are wireless charging for taxis, and scaling up electrified goods transport and mobility and goods hubs.
Jonas Eriksson leads operations and is working on identifying challenges and holding ongoing dialogue with the various projects.
– We have decided that when we select which efforts we want to focus on, the pilot projects must have a long-term business model and an idea about how they will be financially viable, he says and continues, – In the taxi project, real taxi operations are conducted, all the actors pay their share, and they quickly discover whether it is viable or not. There are now 16–20 cars requesting the construction of more wireless charging stations.
Eriksson says they are not currently conducting special studies of business models.
– Much of this deals with including the right actors, so they are not solely technology projects, he says.
He believes that technology is not the biggest challenge for the transport systems of the future.
– The technology exists, as does the will from the city and from the business. The biggest challenge is behavioural issues.
One of these is getting people to leave their cars outside the city and use the park-and-ride solutions instead. Another challenge is establishing goods hubs.
– We haven’t got very far there yet, but in the future, only electric transport will be allowed in the city, so we have to make transport volumes more efficient, including through vehicle sharing.
Gothenburg Green City Zone is now working to establish a more comprehensive dialogue with civil society to listen to the city residents’ thoughts and ideas about the project. The project’s aim is that transport within the Gothenburg Green City Zone will be emissions-free as soon as 2030.
Jonas Eriksson is convinced that the way there is through collaboration, which includes business models.
– If we are going to create a society with more efficient transport and more sharing, actors need to find ways of cooperating. This builds upon businesses working together and seeing the business benefits of doing so, he says.