Signatures for Szeged: Agreement to Support the City’s Sustainable Transport Signed

After one year of project preparation, an agreement between the city of Szeged and organisations of different sizes was signed at a ceremonial event, held in the IT and Presentation Centre...

After one year of project preparation, an agreement between the city of Szeged and organisations of different sizes was signed at a ceremonial event, held in the IT and Presentation Centre of Szeged Agora, about cooperation to support sustainability, speed and the use of green energy in employees’ travels.

Thank you for your cooperation! Thank you for acting as partners to support city mobility in Szeged. The SASMob project has been running for one year, most of the work so far has been about preparation. Your participation in the project is immensely helpful for the inhabitants of the city as, owing to this participation, those who live here will get to their workplace more easily and in a more sustainable manner. Today’s signature was a tiny yet important step in this entire process. I am confident that our cooperation will continue to be successful in the next two years and that the experience gained during the project and our cooperation will be retained even after the project, which is financed by the European Union, is formally completed, and when it is “only” up to us how we continue to work together and use the knowledge we have acquired.

these were the words of Mr Sándor Nagy, Vice Mayor of Szeged for City Development, when he thanked, in the IT and Presentation Centre of Szeged Agora, the representatives of eight major employers –Szent-Györgyi Albert Clinic Centre of Szeged University, the university’s Faculty of Economic Sciences, Pick Zrt., Szegedi Környezetgazdálkodási Nonprofit Kft. (Szeged Environmental Management Non-profit Ltd.), the Municipal Government of the City of Szeged, IT Services Hungary, evosoft and GriffSoft – for signing the agreement, which is about convincing and motivating employees to use environmentally conscious means of transport, primarily cycling and community transport.

All this had been, however, preceded by an internal survey about employees’ mobility habits and needs, including passenger counting and household surveying. The latter was a questionnaire with questions about people’s travelling habits, asked in two thousand households and of about four thousand respondents, which is a representative sample. – Travel chains were prepared. This method takes a really practical approach: somebody leaves home in the morning, takes the child to the kindergarten, goes to work, collects the child in the afternoon, they do the shopping together, then go home – and the survey is about what means of transport that person uses in running these errands. These chains were used to compile a survey about travel and transport usage patterns. We also wanted to understand how satisfied people were with public transportation vehicles or what trends they saw in the conditions of transport as pedestrians. It was a classic public opinion research project – said the vice mayor.

This, however, was not the only way to measure the level of satisfaction with the current state of transport. In the framework of the SASMob Project, a novel research method was also applied in the preparation year. An article was earlier published about this workplace survey – the main point was to understand the travel-to-work habits of the employees of organisations of different sizes and what solution opportunities exist to remedy transport related problems of a given organisation in the near future. The research results pointed out that people have very specific needs.

You can never have enough bike shelters – but, as an example, we also launched the planning of a new public transport stop near the HQ of one of the companies, to make even more employees use means of community transport – said Sándor Nagy. Another part of the project is the design of a mobile application, scheduled to be available by the end of the planning phase, which will make travelling easier for the employees of particular companies. The app might help people find others for car sharing to ease the pressure of the morning peak.

Part of the model is for the city and the stakeholders, like Szeged University or evosoft, to reach an agreement about cooperation in these mobility related matters. The city of Szeged is making all endeavours to meet the expectations stakeholders have towards it. A good example to such efforts is a request, and its management by the municipal government, made by one of the largest project participants, the Clinic Centre, to introduce slight modifications in the public transport timetable, with an eye to making commuting easier for its employees. The municipal government has started to study the request, identify possibilities based on the passenger counting data and see if the request would not cause a significant increase in prices in organising new public transport timetables.

To mention a concrete example also to this: even making a service is less frequent in the mornings but more frequent in the afternoons, at the time of shift changes, is a timetable change. The easiest way to understand actual needs for such modifications is collecting the sort of feedback mentioned. This is what the first project year has been about, and one the roles of this signature ceremony is to formalise such changes – the Vice Mayor for City Development said in summary.

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The project is based on the initiative of Urban Innovative Actions, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.