A Swedish action plan for intelligent transport

Minister for Communications Åsa Torstensson discusses Sweden’s targets and strategies for implementation and use of ITS
We are all influenced in our daily life by the design of the transport system. We commute to work or education, we visit friends and relatives, enterprises rely on reliable logistics etcetera. We have high expectations on our transport system. It must be reliable in the very moment we want to travel.

The transport system has to be constantly developed in order to meet present and future demand. Increased commuting over larger regions, an ageing population, increased use of ICT, and globalisation of trade are examples of important trends that put new demands on the transport system. We also put a lot of effort into the climate challenge which significantly changes travelling and logistics. A functioning infrastructure, an efficient transport market and a good range of public transport are conditions for jobs and economic growth.

Benefiting from ITS
Intelligent Transport System (ITS) is about to seize the opportunities to benefit from and use information and communication technology (ICT) in the transport system in order to meet the transport policy objectives. The use shall give benefit to individuals as well as to society, and result in fewer fatalities, fewer emissions and more efficient transport of goods and people. Government and authorities have the responsibility to clarify the problems and to create a clear direction for development. The industry has the role to provide for the development of products and solutions to suit the Swedish and international markets.

Let me give you one example of the use of ITS in order to improve the efficiency of the freight transport. We know that in Europe every second train is empty and on lorries we transport more than 50 per cent air. Therefore I am waiting for the day when there is a digital way bill covering all transport modes. eFreight will facilitate an effective process consisting of electronic handling of business processes, freight documents, permits and declarations.

We also need to put the user in focus. It is about issues such as a coherent ticket system, and distinct traffic information. All groups of passengers have their own needs, travel patterns and expectations on the transport system. Women make shorter trips, do more cycling and use public transport more than men do. Children are not to be forgotten – it is important that they can use the transport system safely and on their own.

We also need to deal with road accidents. More than 1.4 million people worldwide are yearly killed in road traffic. This is of course a human tragedy. Since ten years ‘Vision Zero’ is the basis for work on road safety in Sweden. In short, it is about designing a safe system where the human body’s tolerance to crash violence is the starting point. If we do that properly we will have no fatalities on the roads.

In this design the use of technology is crucial to be able to deal with problems like speeding and impaired driving. Drivers under the influence of alcohol alone cause the deaths of at least 10,000 people on the EU’s roads every year. If technical devices were implemented to deal with impaired driving because of alcohol, we might be able to save most of these lives.

The EU Commission has found that the introduction of ITS in the transport system is progressing too slowly. An ITS Action Plan has been drawn up, and six of the proposed measures have been given priority and are included in a directive to which the member countries must live up. The European plan comprises road transport and interfaces to other modes of transport.

Cooperation to develop
The preparation of the ITS World Congress in Sweden 2009 was a substantial contribution to a closer cooperation between relevant stakeholders in Sweden. We need to deepen this cooperation in order to develop new business models etc. The Swedish Government therefore commissioned the Swedish Road Administration in close cooperation with relevant stakeholders to present a multimodal strategy and action plan for the use of ITS in the transport system.

The measures included in the action plan are those that are most beneficial, have a strong link to the transport policy goals, comprise fundamental conditions for increased use of ITS in the transport system, can be implemented up to 2015, and strengthen Swedish enterprise. Many of the measures are of multimodal transport nature, but there are also measures that concern only one transport mode. The prioritised measures from the EU ITS Action Plan included in the ITS directive also appear in the Swedish action plan.

The proposals for action have been collected under six focus areas, and there are targets and strategies for each of these. The total comprises 40-odd measures that are briefly described. The Swedish action plan specifically highlights the following measures:
1. Development of quality-assured data on the overall traffic network, terminals, traffic, etc., and that this data is made available in clear conditions
2. Developing a national payment system for public transport and other activities
3. Establishment of a national road pricing scheme
4. Introduction of attractiveνtravel services in metropolitan regions
5. Increased Swedish joint action in Europe on ICT
6. Development of the Swedish model of partnership between the public and private.

Obstacles for the use of ITS include low availability of basic data on the transport system and its use, unclear roles and responsibilities, and poorly interoperable systems. Key strategies for success is to create greater cooperation between public and private sectors, and to conduct pilot and demonstration projects in the field. The establishment of a Swedish forum for coordinating ITS is another important measure in order to properly implement the Action Plan.

The government has given the Swedish Transport Administration the responsibility for the execution of the proposals presented in the action plan and has appointed an ITS Council to better seize the opportunities of using ITS in the transport system. The ITS Council’s main task is to accelerate the implementation of service overall ITS solutions. It gives added value and benefit to both individuals and society, and contributes to meeting the transportation and economic policy objectives. The ITS Council will therefore develop forms of cooperation between government and business, advise and expedite the Swedish Transport Administration and other stakeholders’ work in implementing the Action Plan for ITS, and to coordinate and promote Swedish action in Europe in the ITS field.

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