What is the challenge?
Sweden has a vision of being the world’s first country with no net atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases. In part, this involves a national ambition of having a fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030. The Paris Climate Accord imposes further requirements for new solutions. So, too, does a City of Stockholm decision that road traffic in the city must be reduced, despite growing migration into the area. To prevent congestion and emissions in large urban areas from getting beyond control, we need to reduce demand for motorised transport and optimise use of the existing infrastructure. Achieving these aims requires innovative solutions that make sustainable levels of accessibility and mobility for broad user groups a feasible prospect.
How can the programme contribute solutions?
Research in Mistra SAMS (Sustainable Accessibility and Mobility Services) has Sweden’s climate and transport objectives as its point of departure. The programme focuses on finding solutions for attaining a climate-neutral and socially equitable transport system in the metropolitan regions by 2030 at the latest. The Stockholm region and the municipality of Botkyrka are the hubs of empirical work. In Phase 1, one achievement of the programme was to found a Living Lab in the form of a local employment hub in Tullinge, southern Greater Stockholm. The purpose was to investigate how new digital solutions can help to enable residents in this suburb and small communities to work in a professional working environment at a distance, thereby reducing travel to and from their workplaces and during their spare time. Research in the programme has a sociotechnical approach to ongoing processes of change. Accordingly, the 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 generates more profound insights into users, services and scope for implementation; but it also enhances understanding of users’ needs, limitations and preferences with respect to accessibility and mobility. It also affords insights into key institutional conditions, such as policy and planning, and the sustainability potential of services. In Phase 2 of Mistra SAMS, scheduled for 2021–24, work will build further on the Living Lab strategy initiated in Phase 1. The researchers will study various ways of avoiding unnecessary transport operations and switching to more energy-efficient and climate-neutral modes of transport. In Phase 2 another Living Lab will be established, focusing on travel in the whole of everyday life, and project participants will be able to look at possible scenarios for future mobility systems. Research will create scenarios for a sustainable transport system too, here from three viewpoints: those of citizens, public stakeholders and market players. Aims include creating new insights into how citizens can live more sustainably in relation to their travel needs, and proposing ways of strengthening public stakeholders’ transformative capacity in terms of new accessibility and mobility services. Another aim is to contribute insights into what it takes to boost the prospects of sustainable business enterprise. Pursuing the Living Lab strategy makes it easier, in the programme management’s view, for multidisciplinary knowledge to emerge.
‘It’s unique for research projects to get funding to set up a Living Lab in the way we do, to explore what the transition to a sustainable, equitable transport system may look like in reality. Research has a greater impact when it can be achieved in close collaboration with different stakeholders and citizens who join in creating the future. Our research lies in the very sphere where a huge transformation of society is taking place right now as a result of digitisation and the corona pandemic.’
Anna Kramers, Programme Director of Mistra SAMS.
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). The consortium also includes the Swedish Transport Administration, the City of Stockholm, the municipality of Botkyrka, Lund University, Karlstad University, and several organisations, such as Ericsson, Smart Resenär (‘Smart Traveller’, a company in the IT services industry), Sveriges Ingenjörers Miljöfond (‘the Swedish Engineers’ Environmental Foundation’) and the Swedish Taxi Association. Decision makers working in sustainable communication and sustainable transport operations, and companies active in the transport sector, will benefit from the results. The Stockholm region and the municipality of Botkyrka are in focus for empirical work, and serve as models for the various solutions. City of Stockholm staff will therefore be directly involved in the work, and much of the knowledge derived and the tools created in the programme will be useful for other urban areas and regions. For the climate objectives to be achievable, scope for broad user groups to enjoy mobility that works better is crucial.