Towards more accessIble and iNCLUSIve mObility solutions for EuropeaN prioritised areas

In a continuously changing transport environment, where people mobility requirements become more complex and the role of new forms of transport solutions – including vehicle sharing, dynamic ride sharing, organised lift, etc. – is continuously growing, Public Transport continues to offer a primary asset for people needs and to add value to the society. Recent studies from the UK Department of Transport show how PT plays a vital role in most transport areas, particularly in the most deprived urban neighbourhoods or remote rural areas. Where local bus services are reduced, passengers are often unable to make alternative transport arrangements. For 1 in 5 bus journeys a practical alternative does not exist. For people living in the area, this may mean not taking a job, not taking advantage of educational opportunities, not taking care of health needs or simply not seeing friends and family.

The main objective of the INCLUSION project is to understand, assess and evaluate the accessibility and inclusiveness of transport solutions in European prioritised areas, to identify gaps and unmet needs, propose and experiment with a range of innovative and transferable solutions, including ICT-enabled elements, ensuring accessible, inclusive and equitable conditions for all and especially vulnerable user categories.

This goal will be addressed by investigating the current conditions across a representative set of European prioritised areas, understanding the relevant needs of various vulnerable user and social groups and assessing how novel transport solutions involving social innovation and ICT tools can help raise the level of accessibility, inclusiveness and equity of mobility in the reference areas and for the concerned users.

To this end, INCLUSION will base the planned investigation on a large set of case studies involving different forms of geographical areas and transport contexts, demographic categories, population groups and mobility solutions. The case studies will provide concrete experiences from various European sites and pilot initiatives involving both public and private transport providers and a variety of regulatory and business frameworks, as well as supporting technologies, organisational and operational conditions.

Complementary to this research, a number of innovative solutions will be concretely tried out and validated through real-life experiments in a selected group of sites, directly involved in the project through the participating organisations. These include target areas in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain and the UK providing direct access to a variety of different transport environments, socio-economic contexts, cultural and geographical conditions.

The research and achievements obtained through case studies investigation and innovation experiments will be significantly enhanced and validated via external collaborations established through a Stakeholders’ Forum, set up at the onset of project activities and gathering transport operators, local authorities, users’ associations and advocacy groups from different EU member states (see Annex II).

Specifically, to achieve its main objective, INCLUSION will address 8 Specific Objectives (SOs):

Specific Objective 1: To investigate and understand the main characteristics of prioritised areas as well as the relevant factors that influence mobility and accessibility

This objective will lead to a broad horizon scanning and a thorough investigation of the characteristics of the European prioritised areas in terms of spatial, demographic and socio-economic features and transport environments, to systematically determine which types of areas tend to show the highest degree of mobility inequity or are at a particular risk to develop such an issue. Various types of environments will be addressed, including peri-urban and sub-urban areas, rural and remote zones, economically deprived urban contexts, areas characterised by declining or ageing population, etc. The prioritised areas need to be classified and characterised, in relation to the general and local mobility environment, transport network and services offered to the living, working and travelling groups in the area. This analysis will also result in the identification of the main challenges and elements that affect the way mobility and transport is provided and its accessibility in the different type of prioritised areas.

Specific Objective 2: To identify the user and social groups most exposed to transport accessibility issues and inequality in the different type of areas and undertake a comprehensive analysis of their mobility requirements

SO2 triggers activities that aim at identifying different types of users, communities and social groups affected by different vulnerabilities and access barriers (i.e. physical, social, cultural, educational, economic, age, etc.). The analysis will need to span over a number of vulnerable user categories (e.g. mobility impaired and elderly people, youngsters, low income and unemployed persons, socially excluded or poorly integrated communities, migrants, etc.) and will investigate and answer fundamental questions such as:

  • What are the current and likely future mobility needs and capabilities of various vulnerable groups in various European spatial categories and what factors influence these?
  • To what degree and where are these needs met or not met by the prevailing public transport system?
  • What are the most relevant gaps and unmet conditions that require action to ensure accessible and inclusive mobility for the concerned populations?

The results will be a structured view linking prioritised areas with user and socio-demographic categories, allowing to clearly understand the relationship among spatial and environmental characteristics, users and populations segments and their mobility needs.

Specific Objective 3: To understand how ICT tools, service and social innovation can help individuals to cope with accessibility issues and improve or increase inclusivity and transport equity for the concerned user groups

Social media, mobile Apps, profiling and data intelligence technologies provide potentially disruptive tools to support service organisation and provisioning, user engagement and social innovation in transport, enabling new and more accessible forms of “structured” as well as self-organised mobility solutions. This objective will lead to an investigation of social innovation and of the potentials of these and other ICT breakthroughs, as means to enhance the interaction with the target user categories and among users, to improve user engagement, knowledge gathering, transport organisation and the way more accessible, inclusive and personalised mobility services can be delivered.

The most promising solutions will be investigated and categorised with respect to the identified areas and users’ characteristics, with a particular attention to potential gender appropriateness and technology and social acceptability barriers in relation to specific user categories (e.g. IT-illiteracy, cultural and educational levels, etc.).

Specific Objective 4: To identify and critically assess existing innovative, efficient, affordable, inclusive, equitable and economically viable forms of public transport, with a particular focus on the use of ICT applications and on transferability potentials for both the prioritised areas and social groups

Related activities to reach this objective will look more closely at the organisation and delivery of transport and mobility solutions in 50 relevant case studies in different European contexts, and will investigate and identify those types of innovative solutions bearing significant potentials to meet the identified needs and accessibility requirements. In operational terms, INCLUSION will provide clear answers to questions such as:

  • Which innovative public transport approaches (technological, social, organisational) exist that promise to address the needs of the concerned vulnerable users’ categories in the prioritised areas better than standard PT systems?
  • How effective are these innovative PT approaches in terms of actually meeting current and likely future needs of the most vulnerable user groups and in terms of economic long-term viability?
  • How do the successful innovative PT approaches work in practice? Who are the key actors? What are the financial constructs? What are the regulatory arrangements? Which technologies are being deployed? What context specific conditions are to be considered? Which obstacles had to be overcome?
  • What are the actual or likely acceptance levels of the new solutions by the different population segments?

Results will include rich, in-depth descriptions of 10 innovative PT approaches and a wider catalogue of at least 40 promising cases (described at less detail) largely representative of the typology of prioritised areas and user groups showing the highest degree of transport accessibility issues and inequality, and bearing high potentials for transferability throughout Europe.

Specific Objective 5: To undertake experimental validation of innovative elements and ideas aimed to enhance transport accessibility in selected prioritised areas and transport environments for the concerned vulnerable users

In order to achieve concrete validation of selected innovations and novel concepts showing potentials to enhance transport accessibility and equity, six Innovation Pilot Labs (PLs) will be set up and will run targeted experiments in six relevant cities, regions and rural areas partnering within INCLUSION: Rhein-Sieg region (DE), Flanders region (BE), Budapest urban area (HU), Florence metropolitan area (IT), Barcelona peri-urban area and neighbouring conurbation (ES) and Cairngorms Natural Park rural area (UK). This objective will lead to the local establishment, organisation and operation of Living Labs environments in the selected areas, providing of the co-participative settings for the involvement of and cooperation between various local mobility stakeholders and user groups. This will lead to a (small-scale) validation and assessment of a variety of use cases and complementary aspects, including re-organisation of transport schemes, service tailoring to specific vulnerable user groups, new service delivery and business models, enabling ICTs and social innovation solutions, etc. The results will include first-hand validated experience and data for evaluation and transferability analysis of experimented solutions.

Specific Objective 6: To undertake a quantitative assessment of the impacts and a qualitative process evaluation in selected innovative transport solutions validated in the INCLUSION experimental sites

This objective will carry out a quantitative assessment of the impacts and a qualitative evaluation of the processes underlying the adoption of innovative transport solutions focusing closely on the chosen experiences and piloting of selected elements and use cases in the INCLUSION Pilot Labs engaged in the project. In each use case, quantitative assessments will be obtained through:

  • Applying a set of KPIs, shared across all pilot experiences;
  • Conducting a Cost-Benefit Analysis (based on an existing CIVITAS CBA approach) while qualitative process evaluation will lead to investigate a number of key issues underlying the implementation of the identified innovations:
  • How were these innovative PT approaches developed, when, why, in which political context?
  • How are they maintained in the long term, who funds them, what is their business model?
  • Which are the key players, how do they interact along the service value chain?
  • What are the roles and benefits of ICT and other enabling technologies?
  • What are the main facilitating factors, what are the obstacles or what kind of opposition do they trigger?

In this step, primarily successful cases will be analysed; but not only: also some failures and only partly successful experiences will be assessed because this can provide extremely valuable lessons learned and add significantly to project results and recommendations.

Specific Objective 7: To investigate, develop and consolidate business concepts and models related to the assessed accessible transport options with the aim of transferring these findings to other European contexts

This operational objective will look across the above case studies and pilot use cases and the relevant findings and outcomes of conducted investigations, abstracting key results, general conclusions and transferable lessons learned. These will address technological, social and organisational innovation and their (re-)combination into effective, efficient and affordable mobility solutions supported by viable business concepts and models taking into due account the social requirements implied by the specific social and user groups addressed in the study.

Key questions to be answered will include:

  • How and to what degree are the successful innovative PT approaches transferable to (which) other contexts?
  • What business concepts/models are most promising?
  • What context conditions are necessary or helpful in order for the identified innovation to be transferred and taken up in other European prioritised areas?

The results will include a set of recommendations and an “option generator” – supported by assessed cases – concerning the development and deployment of accessible and inclusive mobility solutions addressing the main needs of vulnerable user communities and population groups in European prioritised areas.

Specific Objective 8: To disseminate and promote the identified innovations, transferable solutions and recommendations with the aim of fostering the adoption of accessible, inclusive and equitable mobility solutions for European prioritised areas and vulnerable user groups

High impact, European-level dissemination and promotion of INCLUSION results will be achieved through the direct involvement of European cities, regions and transport authorities’ partnering associations – POLIS and EMTA – as well as via the consultation activities and additional multiplier effects enabled by the project Stakeholders’ Forum and the involved associations, transport stakeholders, advocacy groups and research organisations.

Softeco Sismat Srl (IT)

MemEx SRL (IT)

Rupprecht Consult – Forschung & Beratung GmbH (DE)

Mosaic Factor SL (ES)

University Court of the University of Aberdeen (UK)

Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg (DE)

BusItalia Sita Nord Srl BUSIT (IT)

Centrum Voor Positieve Aanwending Vzw (BE)

The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (UK)

BUSUP Technologies SL (ES)

BKK Centre for Budapest Transport (HU)

European Metropolitan Transport Authorities (FR)

POLIS, Promotion of Operational Links with Integrated Services (BE)

Today’s economic constraints do not tend to decrease while new social needs emerge. In response to such controversial situation we can observe a decentralization of the resources and a socialization of processes. This trend is often associated to the definition of Social Innovation.

One of the objectives of INCLUSION is to understand how Social innovation, sustained and enhanced by the Information and Communication Technology, can support the provision of innovative transport services in deprived, rural and sub-urban areas.

More specifically, INCLUSION tries to answer key questions about the role of ICT-Enabled Social Innovation both for already validated experiences and for potential new concepts and ideas:

  • Does it facilitate social inclusion?
  • Which type of change in service delivery does it creates?
  • Does it contribute to make social services more efficient by sustaining organisational reengineering and partnerships in the service delivery?
  • Which type of partnership (e.g. public-private) it implies?

Many cases of distributed and socially-oriented transport models are present in Europe and all over the world including lift-sharing services or less-mobility services with volunteer drivers. Specifically, INCLUSION focuses on three areas of application:

  1. Better transport organisation (governance level)
  2. More efficient service provision (provider level)
  3. More informed and tailored end-user services (user level)

The research is conducted by exploring and validating innovative ICT concepts and solutions for the design of new services. These includes for example:

  • Crowd-sourced information
  • Gamification
  • Dynamic pricing
  • Aggregation of transport demand through social media
  • Platforms to capture specific user’s needs
  • Social network as Car-Pooling platform
  • Person centred funding systems

The results, fully validated in the second half of the project, together with the definition of business models and exploitation strategies, will bring new methods, processes, and products for innovative transport solutions in rural, peri-rural and (socially or economically) deprived areas.

In a scenario of changing needs of people and landscape of services (vehicle sharing, dynamic ride sharing, organized lift, technology-based services etc.), Public Transport is still a primary asset for people living in deprived urban neighbourhoods, rural areas or otherwise experiencing socio-economical or geographical conditions. Where public transport services are reduced or not suitable for the needs of passengers, mobility may become difficult or impossible with consequent risk of social exclusion.

The main objective of the INCLUSION project is to understand, assess and evaluate the accessibility and inclusiveness of transport solutions in European prioritised areas, to identify gaps and unmet needs, propose and experiment with a range of innovative and transferable solutions, including ICT-enabled elements, ensuring accessible, inclusive and equitable conditions for all and especially vulnerable user categories.

These objectives are pursued by analysing the current conditions across European prioritised areas and relevant needs of various vulnerable user and social groups. This is the basis for investigating the potential of novel transport solutions involving social innovation and ICT tools on the level of accessibility, inclusiveness and equity of mobility. Such investigation includes the conduction of a large set of case studies involving different forms of geographical areas, demographic categories, population groups and mobility solutions and a validation through real-life experiments in a selected group of areas in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain and the UK. The “Pilot Labs” provides direct access to a variety of different transport environments, socio-economic contexts, cultural and geographical conditions. The outcomes are eventually validated and studied to develop and consolidate business concepts and models related to the assessed accessible transport options with the aim of transferring these findings to other European contexts.

The research and achievements obtained are significantly enhanced and validated via external collaborations established through a Stakeholders’ Forum, set up at the onset of project activities, still in evolution and gathering transport operators, local authorities and academic experts in the field. The cooperation with external experts aims primarily at producing and maximizing impacts that can be sound and effective.

Work performed so far

The characterisations of vulnerable users and areas has been operated considering several factors including area type, user segmentation, mobility options, transport infrastructure and quality of service provision. Key societal trends affecting mobility, accessibility, inclusivity and equity have been also considered together with the impacts (potential or experienced) of such trends on vulnerable users.

This resulted in a multi-dimensional description including geographic, demographic, economic, societal and behavioural aspects. The study focuses especially on key characteristics that may, singularly or in combination with other factors, present challenges to the provision of equitable transport services across a wide spectrum of users.

Closer examination has been done on: models of service provision; requirements for information provision to serve all users (including vulnerable users); the varying impacts that different geographies may have upon relevant models of service provision (with particular attention to characteristics of urbanity and rurality); and how these different characteristics interact to create a spectrum of places with specific mobility needs; in particular, how they may be demonstrated in the pilot labs.

Once identified the background and priorities, a vast research has been done to identify and critically assess existing innovative forms of public transport covering the priorities identified in the preliminary analysis. This has been done by conducting a total of 51 case studies. Ten of the cases have been studied in-depth and 41 at lesser depth.

In parallel to the case studies, it’s been studied the potential of ICT-Enabled Social Innovation (IESI) to improve the accessibility to public transport and to identify innovative forms of inclusive transport. Reviews of existing IESI experiences have been conducted considering the methodological approach adopted in the multi-year research “ICT-enabled Social Innovation to support the Implementation of the Social Investment Package” by the EU Joint Research Centre, in partnership with the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. Further to these reviews, a creative work has been carried out to define new, innovative IESI ideas and concepts having in mind the needs and gaps still open. Some of these innovations have been selected to be further studied, used and implemented in the INCLUSION Pilot Labs.

The validation to be achieved in the Pilot Labs started with a pre-feasibility analysis in terms of objectives and implemented measures up to definition of a detailed Local Pilot Action Plan for the design, implementation and operation phases. This includes a detailed description and categorization of the reference context based on the parameters set in the preliminary contextual analysis and the detailed identification of the objective/scope of the Pilot Labs.

Following the piloting activities, a quantitative assessment of the impacts and a qualitative process evaluation of the innovative transport solutions implemented will be achieved based on methodologies already developed in the first half of the project. The goal is to a) Co-ordinate a common procedure based on existing best practice to collect and manage data across the PLs, analyse the data and achieve unambiguous and comparable results; b) Provide an independent assessment of such outcomes both at a local level and across the different PLs and c) Assess the transferability at European level of the innovations tested and validated in the PLs.

Based on the investigated and validated outcomes, INCLUSION will eventually develop and consolidate business concepts and models related to the assessed accessible transport options with the aim of transferring these findings to other European contexts.

Dissemination and promotion of results is ongoing based on a communication and dissemination strategy aiming at maximizing the impact of the outcomes. INCLUSION was present at some 20 events where the first results have been presented or otherwise disseminated. An exploitation strategy has been initially developed and will be defined completely in the second period. It aims at capturing the most interesting and promising results and potentials looking specifically at the transferability of the concepts, solutions, initiatives, actions and measures analysed, implemented and validated. This is done also with the support of the INCLUSION Stakeholder Forum made of experts in the field which already ensured support, additional investigations and feedbacks in many of the core project activities from an external, very competent point of view.

Progress beyond the state of the art, expected results until the end of the project and potential impacts (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

From the analysis of inclusive mobility needs, prioritized areas and user categories, an extensive review of existing specialized transport solutions and services has been achieved by looking at ICT-enabled social innovation experiences, complemented by additional 51 case studies not specifically focused on ICT. Overall, some 200 existing experiences have been considered before the selection of those suitable for the gaps identified. The research focuses especially on replicability of practices and solutions re-usable by transport planners and decision makers with the ultimate goal to reduce social exclusion caused by inadequate transport options for the target areas and user groups.

From the analysis and desk research, innovative solutions based on ICT enabled social innovation, have been defined and developed. They offers a variety of technology centred solutions ranging from delivery of completely new transport services, enhancements in operating performance of existing services, or improved understanding and awareness of user’s needs and how to better cater for these.

The INCLUSION Pilot Labs will use and further explore some of the solutions with the involvement of local transport operators to address the problem of integration with existing PT network. The goal is not to create standalone innovation but rather to facilitate access to existing transport networks.

This happens for example with existing Specialist Transport Services in Flanders region which today operates mostly in parallel to the existing PT network rather than in support of it. Here, the popular Less Mobility Services (now mostly used by elderly people with reduced mobility) will be technologically improved to get real time information and booking capabilities. This will bring a raised awareness of travel options with an increased uptake of services. The development of an open database can be also studied to enable such integration in a full automated way which allows both the users and operators to recognise the value in offering connected journeys.

Another example of ICT-enabled social innovation is the application of information mining from Social Networks (Twitter) to identify the demand from potential users who want to attend big events. This experiment, conducted in Barcelona metropolitan area, combines social network data with the demographic distribution, transport connectivity, and historic data of attendees from previous events in the same area. This enables planners to aggregate the mobility demand from different geographic areas which are poorly served by existing PT service provision and is used to propose the most suitable demand responsive tailored bus routes and bus-stop locations for the unserved demand.

ICT in INCLUSION will also support an innovative Person Centred Funding (PCF) model with a mobility budget to pay for transport services using a MaaS App in Flanders Pilot. Focused on migrant jobseekers and potential employers, mostly located in rural areas, members can buy a ticket, using a pre-loaded budget, for public transport and bike-sharing. The app provides an easy way to buy tickets and to discover multiple modes of transport among the currently existing MaaS offering. The lowest price is provided for the transport modes and a feedback system opens up new ways to understand the potential and margin of improvements for integrated transport solutions.

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Marco Boero

Michele Masnata

Know how - Mobility


EC Programme
MG-8.4-2017 - Improving accessibility, inclusive mobility and equity: new tools and business models for public transport in prioritised areas

Grant agreement
N° 770115

Start date
October 2017

36 months

Softeco Sismat (IT)