Szeged, in south Hungary, is aiming towards change. And the city does look to it seriously, being currently involved in two major European-funded projects focused on mobility issues. On the one hand, through the Smart Alliance for Sustainable Mobility (SASMob) project, their objective is to build a data-driven, responsive transport system based on cooperation between public entities, private businesses and transport providers in the city; on the other hand, within the LOW-CARB project, the Szeged Transport company will be focusing on the development of company travel plans and of a CO2 Trip Calculator. Having recently signed the LOW-CARB Declaration, the city’s Vice Mayor, Sándor Nagy, took some minutes of his time to further explain Szeged’s horizon of actions and expectations.
What is Szeged’s vision when addressing the issue of company travel plans?
We are dealing with a part of the city where we have existing transport links, well-established mobility habits, public transport, cycle ways and car traffic. But the northern segment of the city is a developing part too, where a logistics centre has almost filled the once green fields, and, once the ELI laser centre opens for business, we foresee the development of a new science park. Therefore, we need to better understand the needs of those who will travel there daily and to see if we can ease their commute by cooperating with their employers. LOW-CARB is not a project about large infrastructure development, but about changing travel behaviour and providing the tools to shift mobility habits in a more sustainable direction.
What has been done so far and what are the next actions to be taken?
Among the infrastructure developments that are ongoing, we are working on a cycle way along Road 5 that will be extended to the Szeged Industrial Logistic Centre and Industrial Park (SZILK). Also, next year, we will build a new road connection to the science park and the industrial area to the west of it, that will stretch from the main residential area of Szeged to the east. It is going to be a complex development, with new bus stops, cycle ways and so on. Moreover, we will also experiment with the electrification of a bus line that will serve the laser centre, using the existing trolleybus infrastructure.
It is one thing for the authority to take the lead, but another thing for companies and citizens to react to the offer. How will you tackle that issue?
I usually position this undertaking from the employers' point of view, in that HR services need to be accommodating towards their employees. For instance, with developing mobility plans, employers can help its workers to find the best way to get to work. And they can also feedback information to us to make our services better. And it is becoming ever more important for the employers to position themselves as socially responsible which makes them more attractive.
What should come next as a natural set of outcomes?
We may see some short-term solutions, such as a change to timetables to better realise seamless modality, but we are also looking forward to the influence of these developments on long-term plans and decisions.
With Szeged determined to bring change to their mobility patterns, the city’s attention to the development of a CO2 trip calculator will be supported by two local stakeholder consultations in 2018 on open-data based mobility planning. Further local stakeholder consultations on low-carbon company travel plans are envisaged in 2019.