Smart Public Transport in Rural Areas: Prospects, Challenges and Policy Needs

Fredrik Pettersson Löfstedt and Jamil Khan, chapter in anthology Shaping smart mobility futures: governance and policy instruments in times of sustainability transitions, Emerald Publishing Limited, August 2020

There is a heavy dependence on cars for people living in rural areas and small towns. The countryside has so far been left out of the transition to carbon-free transport, and public transport shares are low in rural areas. New information and communication technology (ICT) solutions and autonomous vehicles (AVs) have the potential to improve the conditions for public transport in rural areas, as they may increase efficiency and reduce costs. Still, these technological novelties are rarely tested in rural settings and policy focus and pilot tests have occurred almost exclusively in cities. The aim of this chapter is to explore the conditions and challenges for public transport in rural areas through ICT and AVs. The authors will discuss how policy focus needs to change to increase attention to rural areas and give suggestions on concrete policy measures that can be used. In the chapter, the authors draw empirically on results from two research projects in Sweden about the conditions for public transport in rural areas and ongoing tests with new ICT solutions.