One of the pilot projects of the Smart City challange is an information exchange platform. Its purpose is to develop a new conceptual solution for future transport for the management of a common and demand-based transport system in the near future. The municipality of Rae has begun to prepare for the pilot.
During the first year of the project we conducted a large-scale survey for Rae Parish municipality’s mobility analysis. This is the first of two major questionnaires for the local inhabitants, to get to know the needs and thoughts of the people in the area, where we are conducting our pilot on the second half of 2022. The next bigger survey will take place after the pilot, so that we can compare the results. Also we want to know their awareness and even more importantly, their attitude towards autonomous vehicles and how it changes once they have a possibility to use them daily. The pilot itself will provide the selected area with an on-demand service with 2 main interconnected reasons – for the people to leave their personal cars at home and to use more public transport. This service will bring self-driving first/last mile shuttles to their home doorsteps. This AV (autonomous vehicle) will take them to the local bus stop, where they can step to regular means of public transport on a route to Tallinn. There are also other legs of the pilot happening at the same time in both Ülemiste City and in the Port of Tallinn, but with the questionnaire, we were of course concentrating on Rae Parish and thus, the results are also concerning that region (although can easily be applied as concerns and perceptions of other close rural areas of the City of Tallinn).
The mobility survey of Rae municipality residents was conducted in the scope of the Future Transport Ecosystem Management Solution pilot project. It is a pilot project carried out by the FinEst Centre for Smart Cities. The survey was conducted online, with the residents of Rae municipality having the opportunity to answer the questionnaire using a desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, etc. A total of 819 residents responded to the questionnaire in the period 21.04.2021 to 2.06.2021. (there are approximately 21000 inhabitants in whole Rae Parish, so almost 4% of local people filled in the survey). The questions were shared between the following blocks: Mobility Means; Public attitudes towards tram development; Public attitudes and understanding towards autonomous vehicles; Proposals for the development of public transport services at the municipality
Based on survey results the main key indicator was chosen: The public attitude towards the autonomous vehicle for their everyday mobility: 44.1 per cent of respondents answered positively; 15.7 per cent answered negatively; 40.2 per cent did not have a clear opinion.
Some of the most interesting other answers we got (that are all also key indicators for comparison with the survey we will conduct after the pilot):
90% of the people consider, they will get to their destination in less than 30 min with their personal car, but only 45% consider the same time with public transport. 64% of the people use private cars because of the speed, with approximately same amount (59%) saying, that it just suits them better and 57% say it is more convenient. What would make the people to use more public transport? Here the speed of the transport comes in as the 2nd to most common answer: 74% would use more public transport, when the connection from their home would be better. Faster speed is important for 47% of the people and more convenient. Better quality service comes in on the 3rd place with 39,5% of the people. 43% of the people would for sure like to use self-driving vehicles for their daily commute, 40% don’t know and 17% say „no“. And „why“ a person would most probably use such a service? 72% to get to other transport connections, 43% due to bad weather conditions, 39,5% for school transport, 34,5% when carrying heavy items.
36,5% say that they would feel unsafe in traffic where there are safe-driving vehicles but the rest 63,5% feel totally safe. A strong indicator about how people really feel about the safety, is when they think about their kids using such a service. In our survey 62% of the people would let their kids drive, when there is a safety operator on board, 39% say, that the safety operator can also be outside the bus (meaning the control over the vehicle will be through teleoperation), only 23% would allow, when the vehicle is in traffic only with the help of its sensors and 10,5% say, they would not let their children to use AVs at all.
64% consider autonomous vehicle to help the mobility issues of elderly people, children and handicapped persons; 44% say they will help to solve parking problems, 42% see, that it will make public transport as a whole better, 40% think that AVs will help to reach the destination faster and more conveniently, 35,5% see the green effect with less pollution (AVs are electrical), 30% think it will decrease the need for the bus drivers, 25% say that traffic jams will be decreased, Almost 17% say that they will change traffic safer, but 4% are also worried about the privacy issues.
As a conclusion, what specifically people think that Rae Parish could do to solve mobility issues: 71,5% are waiting for the tramlines to be lengthened from Tallinn; 64% wish for more and better roads for walkers and bikers, 60,5% need better public transport connections, 40% say they would like to see more on demand-based services and just as many hope to see self-driving vehicles in the area. 39% want to focus mostly on the public transport to neighbouring municipalities, 13,5% wish for better private car road conditions.
This pilot project has been funded by the Estonian Ministry of Research and Education and European Regional Development Fund (grant 2014-2020.4.01.20-0289). More information about the pilot project: https://www.finestcentre.eu/mobility.