Knowledge on the mobility behaviour of specific person groups in different spatial and transport contexts is the basis for designing customized transport solutions. Successful solutions need to be adapted to the individual user groups and local conditions. We work in urban and rural areas and for various person groups including children, persons with care responsibilities, elderly and people with reduced mobility. We analyse the usage of different transport means including innovative services such as sharing systems and electric vehicles.
The introduction of autonomous vehicles means that we will witness a fundamental change of our transportation system over the next ten years. This will most likely radically change our ideas of mobility and bring about new ownership models and mobility patterns, which, in turn, open up an enormous potential for the development of sustainable mobility solutions, in particular demand responsive transportation systems (DRT) in rural areas. Making the driver redundant will substantially decrease operating costs and make demand responsive transportation affordable and financially sustainable at last. Moreover, as we know from mobility research, (mobility) habits are hard to change, and it usually requires radical changes to alter people’s mobility behavior. And indeed, the new types of mobility usage such as Shared Autonomous Mobility do have the potential to be innovative and attractive enough to reach large numbers of new users and meet their mobility needs. This will have a significant impact especially on demand responsive transportation systems because these systems heavily rely on being used by a critical mass of people, and this large-scale use makes it possible to bundle rides in a smart way to achieve a high ecological impact.
Driverless car technology is not automatically intelligent and socially beneficial. A scenario with autonomous but privately owned cars would likely further aggravate the current ecological situation. The challenge is to combine these evolving technological innovations with innovative offerings and business models. The general conditions of the mobility sector have to be shaped proactively to make the evolving mobility ecosystem inclusive and
sustainable. This project will explore and compare the opportunities, challenges and risks of self-driving cars in different scenarios. Qualitative research on the users and their interaction with these vehicles—focusing on the currently most promising European pilot projects in the field of autonomous public transportation—will provide new insights, enable knowledge transfer and provide access to international state-of-the-art research. In addition, ride recordings from existing demand responsive transportation systems in Austria will serve as a data source for quantitative impact measurement for various scenarios under different local conditions. This exploratory investigations will lay the groundwork for a pilot project encompassing the first deployment of communally used autonomous vehicles in Austria. The relevant partners and required legal and technological framework will be identified and action points for the creation of the necessary general conditions will be defined.
Tourism is one of the most important sectors of the Austrian economy; it accounted to 5.3% of the Austrian GDP in 2013. However, given the nature of tourism, this sector is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Due to changing temperatures and precipitation levels, changes in the demand and supply of tourism offers can be expected. On the demand side, travel behaviour and destination choice are likely to be affected by warming temperatures, changes in weather patterns and even extreme weather events. Especially in cities, where abundant sealed and reflective surfaces create higher temperatures than elsewhere, an expected increase in the number of heat days is likely to enhance the demand among city inhabitants for short-trips into the surrounding, rural areas that are traditionally known as “SOMMERFRISCHE” (“Summer retreat”) areas. These are areas that are characterized by their location in close distance around heat-affected agglomerations while still displaying significantly lower temperature levels due to their position in higher altitudes. On the supply side, some of these formerly well-visited ski regions are facing challenges due to a de-creasing reliability of snow conditions, while there are new opportunities arising in summer due to the new potential of these “Sommerfrische” regions as described above.
Althought tourism is of high importance for Austrian economy and strongly affected by climate change impacts, tourism research in relation to climate change has singularly focused on the winter season so far. Travel behaviour of urban citizens as response to increasing heat days (demand side) and multi-seasonal tourism destination developments as adaptation to climate change impacts (supply side) in the summer season are still under-developed. Against this background, the two main objectives of the REFRESH project are:
- To explore how metropolitan people adapt to the increasing number of heat days and tropical nights within the urban agglomeration and to explain their adaptation intensions with respect to their booking and travel behavior towards “Sommerfrische” destinations in the nearby mountainous regions.
- To evaluate if nearby mountainous regions can benefit from the metropolitan people’s travel behaviour and how they can respond on this demand and develop a sustainable multi-seasonal tourism portfolio considering the climate change adaptation and mitigation goals.
The project „Was geht ab?“ [what's up?] explores the transport system within the urban areas surrounding schools from the perspective of an environmentally friendly, active and safe mobility. Multiple-method activities and campaigns are conducted for this sustainable mobility of students, parents and teachers. The students are sensitized for their own requirements and of mobility impaired person groups to promote an "inclusive mobility". They learn to understand "mobility" in the context of environment, health and technology. A central result of the project is a digital, interactive map to visualize spatial information.