Innovative Mobility Solutions in Rural Areas With Case Studies

Innovative Mobility Solutions in Rural Areas With Case Studies

Marian Gogola (University of Žilina, Slovakia) and Dana Sitányiová (University of Žilina, Slovakia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1614-0.ch007
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Rural areas still have some disadvantages in comparison to urban areas. Access to jobs, education, or health services provided for inhabitants in rural areas are limited. Another important topic is mobility, which is crucial to meet the travel expectations of inhabitants in rural areas. Finding new forms of mobility capable of covering all areas and meeting the requirements of rural inhabitants is the most important challenge. This chapter deals with mobility in rural areas from the perspective of demographics, social change, and accessibility to transport services. Moreover, this chapter offers various case studies dealing with innovative solutions for mobility in rural areas resulting from the RUMOBIL project.
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Living in urban areas has important advantages such as the close availability of various services ranging from health service, shopping, and education, to cultural and sports events. One of the consequences of the lack of such opportunities in rural areas is urban drift. In particular young people decide to move to bigger cities in the hope of greater opportunities for employment or better education. As a consequence, many cities become increasingly overcrowded putting pressure on different kinds of infrastructure and services. Moreover, the exodus to cities together with the negative natural growth has led to a population decline in many EU rural territories, generating substantial gaps between regions of the same country and Europe as a whole. The territorial dimension of economic weakness and social exclusion has been widely recognized in European regions by O’Donnell, O’Donovan, and Elmusharaf (2018).There are also considerable differences in regional demographic patterns across the European Union (EU) from overcrowded big cities with relatively young populations to more remote, peripheral rural regions that may have declining population numbers. Demographic changes in the EU including rural regions are likely to be of considerable importance in the coming years. Above all, the EU population will continue to age as a result of a consistently low level of fertility and extended life expectancy. The social and economic consequences associated with population ageing are likely to have profound implications across the EU, both nationally and regionally. Among other issues, there is the challenge of developing the rural areas to make them more attractive to young people in terms of employment prospects, education and training opportunities, health services, social life, etc.

As many European rural regions suffer from an ongoing population decline and dynamic ageing, so services of public interest retreat from these areas. This, however, brings enormous challenges for the provision of public services, such as public transport (PT). Transport plays a key role in responding to the problems of rural social exclusion and out-migration of the young generation from these areas. On the one hand, population decrease and limited funds to finance PT result in reduced PT offers. On the other hand, mobility needs in regions where people are aging quicker than elsewhere change and even increase. The large distances between services and rural population centers often cause difficulties for people without access to private transport. In the light of these challenges, it is important, both at EU and national level, to review and adapt existing transport policies, because changes in demography also have an important impact on the future demand on all forms of transport.

Many scientific works deal with this problem. Among others, the study of Leibert and Golinski, (2017) focuses on problems of demographical changes such as depopulation and ageing in German rural regions, leading to a discussion about the future provision of services of general interest and equal living conditions in the context of the future spatial development of Germany. In their paper, they argue that the peripheralization approach (peripheralization is understood as the process of producing and reproducing peripheries) is a helpful tool to better understand how the interaction of out-migration, dependence, disconnection, and stigmatization shape the future of rural regions and lead to their gradual weakening.

The importance of mobility in rural areas was studied by Milbourne, and Kitchen, (2014). Their study highlights mobility as an important shaper of rural lifestyles and rural places. They draw on empirical materials from a recent community study in rural Wales to reveal the difficulties associated with practicing everyday mobility in rural settings. Some studies (Rogers, Dufty-Jones, Steele, 2015) examined the problems and role of housing in rural areas.

In recent years, in several countries (including Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) the increase of road transport has also resulted in the significant growth of negative impacts on the environment, increasing congestion in urban areas or increases in road accidents. In parallel, in passenger traffic, the growth of individual automobile transport is reflected by a significant decline in the performance of public passenger transport (rail, bus and public urban transport).

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