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AUSTRIA, Defereggental

"DRT for an alpine rural region as a complementary service to existing public transport services, filling the spatial gaps and gaps of service operation time"

AUSTRIA, Defereggental 

Panoramic view on the Defereggental valley

In cooperation with the three municipalities of the Defereggen valley and based on both mobility surveys and attitudinal survey, a DRT service will be designed for this rural alpine region in the Southwest of Austria.

1. Defereggental case study

The valley called as Defereggental hosts three municipalities, St. Jakob, St. Veit and Hopfgarten and in total 2506 inhabitants (year 2009) and is settled in the Austrian province of Tyrol. Beside these three main villages several smaller settlements are allocated in the valley with its distance of 23 km between the most Eastern and most Western settlement. The altitude of the valley starts with 1200 m in the East, climbing up to 1600 m above sea level at the highest settlement in the West. There is a main road from the East into the valley linking the regional capital Lienz (43 km distance from the most Western main village) and further important settlements with the Defereggental valley. There is only one other road leading to the valley from Italy (Südtirol/Alto Adige) via the Stallersattel with its culmination point of 2052 m above sea level. This road is closed at any time in winter season and during night time in summer season and of less importance as a transport link. There are 5 primary schools and one secondary school in the valley. 2 supermarkets are satisfying the daily demand of goods in the valley. Roughly 80% of the inhabitants are living in the bottom of the valley all others are living above in higher settlements along the hill slopes (mainly those exposed to the South). The valley is part of the national park Hohe Tauern and hosts a ski resort. Tourism is an important source of income in the area. One public transport service is connecting the valley with the next public transport node, where the Defereggental meets the neighbouring valley Iseltal. The service is provided by the OEBB PostBus GmbH, the biggest public transport operator in Austria. Three private Taxi operators complement the mobility needs of the inhabitants and guests. 12% of the inhabitants live more than 1.5 km away from the next bus stop. On working days, if school season, the bus runs eight times into the valley and back again. On Saturdays the service operates four times and on Sundays and holidays only three times in each direction.

2. Data collection method

In order to explore the mobility behaviour in spring 2009 a mail out mail back questionnaire including a trip diary was sent out to a sample of the inhabitants aged over 6 years. The net sample included 536 persons (clearly more than 10% of all inhabitants). In order to better understand the attitude and expectation of the inhabitants of the valley with regard to a potential implementation of a demand responsive transport system, a survey (combined postal and telephone) was carried out in June 2009. All inhabitants received a questionnaire, 16% of them replied a filled in questionnaire. Car passengers (observed from the trip diary of the first survey and voluntary willingness stated in the second survey) were oversampled in this relation, as it is expected, the main user group will be recruited out of this group. Parallel to survey activities a working group with stakeholders were established. Two meetings took place during the creation of the feasibility study.

3. Results

The mobility demand in the valley

Results show on average 3.4 trips per mobile person over 6 year of age leading to a total trip length of 47 km on average per day with a total duration of 72.8 minutes. Daily trip length and trip duration are clearly over average in Austria. 29% of the inhabitants are regularly using public transport as possessing passes to receive reduced public transport tickets or season tickets. From the figure below the main groups of persons benefitting from an extension of the public transport system can be seen: the young persons and the elderly persons. Common within both groups is the high share of private car users as passengers with a value of roughly 20%. A big share of this group is carried by friends or relatives as they have to make a trip, but are not able to use a car on their own because of not having a driving licence or access to a car. This is verified by the fact, that 6% of all trips of car drivers are caused by the fact to give other people a lift. The total number of these service trips is about 230 per day in the valley.

Results of the mobility survey: the relation of age and mode choice
(own survey, workday, year 2009).

The attitude toward demand responsive systems in the valley

In the attitudinal survey, respondents had to rate statements, for which reasons it is most important to implement and design such a system. In principle there is a big interest of implementing such a demand responsive transport system in general (see figure below). It shows that the link to the next transport node in the settlement of Huben with its further connections to the regional capital and further important settlements is of highest importance, whereas a night service bringing passengers to restaurants and bars and pick them up again is of less importance. The strong agreement to design the service to relieve people from giving a lift for other people without direct access to a car or to increase the quality of stay for tourists is an interesting aspect. Additionally, people where asked for the ideal operation times. The big majority favoured an operation time from 6 am to 21 pm on working days and up to midnight on weekends.

Results of the attitudinal survey in the Defereggental valley different aspects of service design (own survey, year 2009).

Potential demand of a new demand responsive transport service

Based on the surveys carried out a rough estimation was done, how many passengers can be expected at maximum. Today, already 620 trips per day are carried out by means of public transport; additionally 230 trips per day were carried out to give people a lift in the valley (in total 1000 trips per day were made as passenger of a car). Based on the interviews of the telephone survey and considering a reduction ratio (as agreeing on telephone is easier in comparison to change habits in the real world) roughly 80 trips per day are within a reasonable margin of potential demand.

4. Conclusions and recommendations

Considering the results of the surveys, taking into account the given budget from local authorities and the expectations of a stakeholder working group accompanying the implementation process of the system, three concepts were developed including a road map of implementation. Common aspects of all three concepts are: (1) the demand responsive transport system will complement the existing public transport supply in the valley. (2) One vehicle should run the system in order to keep the operation and investment costs low. (3) The transport node in Huben should be ideally linked with the new system, establishing further connections to the regional capital. (4) The service area is identical with the service area of the existing public transport supply. (5) Together with the existing public transport supply, on working days during the day and Saturday before midday a headway of 1 hour should be established whereas on workday in the evening time, Saturday after midday and on work free days a headway of 2 hours should be offered. (6) There will be a fixed time table for the demand responsive service.
The new system should be operated by a local taxi company. The vehicle will be purchased and maintained by the three communities. For that reason a non profit organisation needs to be founded. The passenger calls in to book his/her trip at least 30 minutes before departure. On peak time a telephone operator will manage the demand, at off peak time, the driver will directly talk to the passengers and organises the route himself/herself.
The differences between the three concepts are: Concept A: the demand responsive service fills the gaps of the existing public transport supply on the same route. Major villages aside the bottom of the valley are accessed as well by deviating from the route, if demanded. This means 72 additional routes per week with a maximum of costs (all services are demanded) of roughly €108,000 per year assuming cost coverage because of ticket selling of 18%. Concept B: additionally to the services in concept A, the demand responsive transport system provides a shuttle service between the biggest village (St. Veit) aside the route of the existing public transport service and the bus stop in the bottom of the valley (i. e. 104 times per week) in times, when the bus is not needed for the service along the valley. This would increase the costs to €117,000 per year assuming cost coverage because of ticket selling of 18% again. Concept C includes changes in the timetable of the existing public transport service as well. The overall timetable will be converted to a regular headway system with same minute of departure times in every hour. The volume of the existing public transport supply remains unchanged, so no additional costs are expected there. The funding needs for the system (including the shuttle service as described in concept B) increases to €154,000 per year assuming cost coverage because of ticket selling of 18% as in the other concepts. The increase is caused by additional shuttle services as well as additional services along the valley to keep the exact headway of one hour during working day daytime.

After finding an agreement of the funding between the municipalities and the province the detailed timetable need to be fixed and printed. On the long run, the new service should be fully integrated in the existing transport consortium of the region so that holders of season tickets can use the service without the need of purchasing an additional ticket. Nevertheless an extra service fee should be charged in any case which leads to a higher price in comparison to the ticket prices for the existing public transport services. This avoids a switch of big shares of existing public transport users to the demand responsive transport system which could cause capacity problems and additionally menace the good cooperation with the bus operator. A public awareness campaign should accompany the start of the new system. This is very important, as potential passengers need to get familiar with the differences between a conventional public transport system and the demand responsive transport system (mainly the need to pre-book the trip). Local shop keepers and restaurant/bar owners as well as the tourist industries should be on board of the campaign, e. g. refunding the tickets for customers, providing leaflets or carrying out the pre-booking for them. Once the passengers get familiar with the new system, the full potential of passengers can be accessed and the revenues can be maximised. The municipalities have decided to start operation implementing concept B by 26th November 2010.

5. Contact

Dr. Roman Klementschitz, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU),
Peter-Jordan-Str. 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria, +431-47654-5308,

David Wurz-Hermann, MSc, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Peter-Jordan-Str. 82, 1190 Vienna, Austria, +431-47654-5343, david.wurz@boku.ac.at


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