What is the challenge?
Sweden has a vision of being the world’s first country to become independent from fossil fuels. This tough challenge calls for a range of new solutions. To meet it, according to the Swedish Transport Administration, one requirement is to have a fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030. But this is not the only challenging transport and environmental objective. Further requirements for new solutions are imposed by the Paris Climate Accord, and also by a City of Stockholm decision that motorised traffic in the capital must decrease, despite growing migration into the city. To prevent congestion and emissions in large urban areas from getting out of hand, we need to achieve reduced demand for vehicle transport services and optimised use of the existing infrastructure.
How can the programme contribute solutions?
The Mistra SAMS vision is for Sweden, by the year 2030, to have attained accessibility and mobility levels in the metropolitan regions that help sustainability goals to be achieved and simultaneously meet the needs of broad user groups through new accessibility services. Initially, the programme will investigate which successful accessibility and mobility services exist in other countries in order thereby to identify best practice.
The research has a sociotechnical approach to ongoing processes of change. Accordingly, emerging innovations and new solutions are seen not only as technical configurations but also as integral components of networks comprising agents, organisations and institutions that are developing in close interaction, often in unforeseeable ways. A transition to sustainable mobility and accessibility involves complex processes in which technical, social, political and cultural dimensions are intimately interwoven.
Mistra SAMS will generate in-depth insights into users, services and implementation requirements. But it will also enhance understanding of users’ needs, limitations and preferences regarding accessibility and mobility, and provide knowledge of key institutional conditions (policy and planning) and the sustainability potential of services.
The hypothesis is that innovations in accessibility can help bring about more resource-efficient and flexible mobility. One example of this might be that, instead of owning cars, we subscribe to obtain access to a car when we need it.
Another aim is to create a platform that can give us all the information we need to travel. This will be different from today when, to put together a complete trip, we are obliged to use several different companies’ solutions. The new platform will make choosing public transport easier and more attractive.
The same digital platform will include scope for virtual meetings, vehicle pools, car sharing, taxis, cycle loan schemes and other arrangements. The platform and a few combinations of services will be tested in ‘living labs’. The plan is to develop prototypes that visualise possible configurations. The programme comprises the following parts:
- Communication and management.
- Theoretical foundation: exploring, adapting, further developing and establishing the perspectives in social and behavioural sciences that give the programme a common analytical framework.
- Inventory of accessibility services involving disruptive innovation and various digital platforms.
- In-depth understanding of users, services and implementation prospects.
- Design and testing of new service combinations and digital platforms.
- Impact analysis of the new services, especially in central and suburban parts of Stockholm and Malmö.
- Projection of scenarios for Sweden’s entire transport system to show how these new accessibility and mobility services can promote achievement of the climate objectives.
- Using in-depth knowledge of technical configurations, user groups’ perspectives and institutional requirements to identify policy recommendations and pave the way for their implementation.
Who will benefit from the results?
The programme is headed by KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI). Several major companies, including Ericsson and Scania, have joined in. First Rent A Car AB (FRAC) will take part, offering hire cars and carpooling through its subsidiaries Hertz and Sunfleet. The public agencies involved in the programme are the Swedish Transport Administration and three municipalities — the City of Stockholm, the City of Malmö and Botkyrka.
All decision-makers working in sustainable communication and/or transport facilities will benefit from the results. However, Stockholm has a special status since the city will be a showcase for the new solutions. City of Stockholm staff will therefore be directly involved in the work. But much of the knowledge and the tools created in the programme will also be useful for other urban areas and regions. Moreover, the Swedish Transport Administration and companies operating in the transport sector are interested in the programme research.
For the climate objectives to be achievable, it is crucial to pave the way for more workable means of promoting mobility for broad user groups.