The SynArea research project, completed in March 2015, identifies possible future solutions for mobility in suburban and rural areas. The basic idea of the project is to concentrate public transport on regional main routes with consistent, dense cycles and optimized connections. This is supplemented by the complete development of the settlement area with a combination of an area-wide rental system for couplable light electric vehicles.
User-centered innovation and design
Target group definition and concept test
The target group segmentation and description was done by our project partner ÖBB. These formed the basis for qualitative in-depth interviews in the selected target groups and for the conception of the customized offer (target group targeting and positioning). In addition to questions about current mobility behavior, a schematic concept presentation and a partially standardized questionnaire were used to ascertain needs and motives, as well as different use cases and the subjective importance of different functionalities. The user insights served as a basis for the development of the offer. In addition, Spirit Design created an initial design for the vehicle.
The SynArea mobility service designed as part of our project enables a reduction in individual transportation and also offers people without their own cars significantly more travel options. This is possible because the rental vehicles are specially tailored for rural regions and target groups with different needs. For example, the maximum speed of the vehicle depends on the user’s driving license. If necessary, several vehicles can be coupled together. The division between public transport, rental vehicles and individual transport is optimized so that the advantages of each component can be used in the best possible way.
Example of use
A commuter from Rauchenwarth in the northern Vienna Basin who works in Vienna now has an hourly bus connection to a subway station. However, the last bus to Rauchenwarth leaves at 6:10 pm. Therefore, she often uses her car to get to work. After the implementation of SynArea, the travel time at rush hours remains the same, and the bus now runs exactly every hour as a feeder to the REX train to Gramatneusiedl. If she stays longer in Vienna, she takes the REX train to Gramatneusiedl and borrows one of the SynArea rental vehicles waiting at the station, with which she can travel to the rental station in Rauchenwarth. She uses an ATM card to unlock and borrow the vehicle, and the ride in the rental vehicle is already included in her annual pass.
Joint research collaborations in the field of Future Mobility
The research project was funded in the FFG program “Mobility of the Future” and carried out in consortium. The initiative and management of the research project lay with our project partner, ÖBB Personenverkehr AG, which designed the mobility offer and carried out the overall economic evaluation. Other project partners were AMSD (technical design of the vehicles and rental stations, determination of acquisition and operating costs), komobile (modeling of transport demand) and VSI/TU Graz (simulation of accidents and road traffic).