Smart Solutions

Rural Smart Mobility Platform

An online platform that enables tourists and locals to book destination-to-destination public transport connections in rural areas.

Implemented inNockberge Region

Country : Austria

What’s the solution?

The solution offers an online as well as telephone booking platform for public transport connections in rural areas. It combines scheduled public transport lines and on-demand taxis so that tourists and locals can reach various destinations, even including remote locations, such as mountain huts and cabins. The service is offered throughout the year and the system guarantees a connection within 60 minutes from the time of booking. Passengers pay for their ride directly in the vehicle.

What makes it smart?

The solution is smart because

  • It offers an intelligent solution to rural mobility, for both tourists and inhabitants - including providing solutions to last-mile connection issues arising from existing transport services
  • It is active throughout the year, convenient to book, cheap and strengthens the attractiveness of rural areas
  • It is an answer to a trend whereby more and more people do not own a private car but do not want to limit their mobility needs (tourists and locals)
  • All information concerning all connections in the region are available in the app, and it offers a booking option at the same time
  • The background logistical software combines individual taxi rides from different passengers to increase efficiency and sustainability (thus reducing costs)

How is the solution implemented?

Implementing a specific mobility concept is dependent on the regional context. However, these general steps seem to apply everywhere:

  • Launch cooperation between tourist boards and villages
  • Look for synergy effects in the current system of public transport
  • Aim for increased efficiency and reduced costs, by using a up-to-date logistics software that can combine routes and booked journeys
  • Include scheduled public transport lines as well as local taxi companies, combining these options to offer passengers a seamless journey.

In what local context has it been applied?

The Nockberge Region is a mountainous area of 540 km² in the south of Austria, marked by the Millstätter Lake and mountain peaks up to 3,000 m. It includes several relatively isolated villages including: Spittal/Drau, Seeboden, Millstatt, Radenthein, Feld am See, Bad Kleinkirchheim, Gnesau and Ebene Reichenau. Population density ranges from village to village from 13 to 312 inhabitants per km². The main economic sector in Nockberge is tourism (2.5 million overnight stays per year).

The general population trend is declining (by approx. 7 % in 20 years), but varies heavily from village to village. The unemployment rate is above average compared to the wider regional and national levels, while its average income is below average.

Fewer and fewer tourists own or use a private car when coming to the region (around 50 %). This pertains also to young people living in the area. Still, all of them want to be mobile and therefore request a flexible public transport system. Regions being able to offer this are more attractive to tourists and young families.

Who was behind the implementation?

The initiative was developed through a collaboration between several organisations:

Tourism Mobility Centre Carinthia

Tourism Region Millstätter See-Bad Kleinkirchheim-Nockberge

Villages in the region (Spittal/Drau, Seeboden, Millstatt, Radenthein, Feld am See, Bad Kleinkirchheim, Gnesau, Ebene Reichenau)

Biosphere park/reserve Nockberge, Carinthia

The province of Carinthia

What was the local journey?

Project idea:

  • Tourism regions wanted to find a solution for the last mile for incoming tourists when arriving in the province. This was the starting point for the Tourism Mobility Centre Carinthia
  • The local accommodation businesses, hotels etc. weren’t initially very interested as they understood that it would only bring the few tourists without a private car to their house and that these tourists would feel ‘stranded’ without being able to explore the region, because the public transport system does not fit their needs (distance to a next bus stop, no bus stops next to places of interest…)
  • The region “Nockberge” was identified as a possible test area for a pilot project as the public transport lines were very limited in their capacities. Next, an on-demand taxi system “Nockmobil” was planned. However, local taxi drivers/companies didn’t show much interest in this isolated solution. This created the starting point for a more holistic approach.

Analysis and development phase:

  • Analyses showed that most places of interest are not next to a bus stop. Thus, a smart combination of on-demand and scheduled lines was necessary.
  • A system should be set up that combines scheduled public transport lines and on-demand taxis so that tourists and locals can reach various destinations, even including alpine huts/cabins. This system should favour ready scheduled public transport lines over individual taxi rides to support the existing lines. Individual taxi rides are being combined whenever necessary to increase efficiency and sustainability.
  • A scheduling software was identified that is able to cover all available connections and options, even shipping lines, seasonal bus lines (skiing, …).
  • The Tourism Mobility Centre Carinthia started by talking to all stakeholders separately about the idea and made their stakes transparent (it will not gain financially from the project).
  • In a next step, all stakeholders were invited to a meeting to discuss the project in depth. The main stakeholders were: tourism associations, local mayors, main hotel owners, village councillors in charge of transport and environment… After more feedback loops, a final concept was developed and presented.
  • In parallel, the financial planning was done:

    • A budget encompassing all costs was planned.
    • Possible grants from federal ministries etc. where not included, but listed as potential extras
    • 60 % of the costs should be covered by the passengers, 40 % by the tourist boards and villages

  • The final concept was approved by the group of the main stakeholders

Roll-out phase:

  • Call and search for external services (call centre, …)
  • Concluding contracts with local taxi companies etc. including minimal standards (eg. guaranteeing a ride/connection within 60 minutes)
  • Presentation to inhabitants, mayors and other stakeholders of the region
  • Integrating further feedback into the system
  • Go Live
  • Advertising the system (done by Tourism Mobility Centre Carinthia)
  • Monitoring progress and defining adaption by a small group of stakeholders/steering committee (villages and tourist boards) – organised by the Tourism Mobility Centre Carinthia
  • Strengthening marketing

What have been the main outputs & results?

  • So far, 50,000 people booked the service (from February 2019 until February 2022; despite the corona pandemic) .
  • It increases efficiency and reduces costs for a wide range of stakeholders
  • By cooperating with Deutsche Bahn (the German federal railway) the rate of inbound tourism coming by train increased by 17.5 % compared to 2018.
  • According to a study, emissions (CO2, NOX, etc.) and energy consumption decreased by around 4 %.
  • During the first COVID-19 induced lockdowns, the system was rapidly able to adapt to serve as a delivery service for urgently needed products.

What does it bring the village/community?

  • This system strengthens the rural area as an attractive place to live as well as its attractiveness as a tourist destination (especially for tourists coming from urban areas, mostly without a private car or even driving license), including more and new target groups.
  • The project aims to sustainably transform rural mobility by strengthening public transport and offering a viable option to private cars. A sustainable financial framework ensures that the system will be maintained for many years.
  • It strengthens regional and higher-level cooperation
  • Strengthening digitalisation initiatives in tourism
  • Attracting as incoming tourists

What’s needed

Financial resources

Main types of cost:
Financial needs:

Set up / Investment costs: EUR 115 000, including:

• EUR 25 000 for physical infrastructure (see above, including adapting the logistics software)

• EUR 10 000 for external consultancy (legal issues, …)

• EUR 80 000 for personnel costs until Go Live

Ongoing costs: circa EUR 130 000 per year, including:

• Add on payments to local taxi companies etc.

• Call Centre (makes up for about ¾ of the external costs; can be saved if you offer booking online only)

• Marketing

• Consulting

• Personnel costs (Project Management, Logistics centre, …)

Funding received:
Tourist board and villages82,400 €40% of set-up costs and 28% of running costs
Service users/passengers123,600 €60% of set-up costs and 42% of running costs
Federal Climate Ministry (Klimaaktiv mobil)39,000 €30% of running costs

Human resources

Planning phase:

Project Management (1 full-time equivalent)

Ongoing needs:

Project Management (1 full-time equivalent):

- Complaint management

- Continuous communication with local taxi companies and other stakeholders

- Accounting

- Planning for innovation

- Organising stakeholder/steering committee meetings

Logistics/disposal & call centre agents (min. 2 full-time equivalent) – external

Local taxi drivers (min. 6 full-time equivalent, yearly average) – external

A steering committee comprised of main stakeholders to take decisions

Physical resources

• Logistical planning and scheduling centre

• A call centre (for telephone booking)

• Tablet computers for on-demand taxis

• Local taxi and bus companies, scheduled public transport lines

• Online booking platform (smartphone app + website)

What to do…

  • Cooperation between tourist associations and villages to ensure connections throughout the year.
  • Incorporate local taxi companies.
  • Use a smart, up-to-date booking and logistics software.
  • Use interfaces with platforms already in use.

and not to do

  • Don’t work without stakeholders (citizen, local representatives, regional stakeholders, tourist boards, public transport companies, …).

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