Internal Workshop In Ghent - lighthouse projects & legal and regulatory frameworks

24 April 2018 - Published by Hayley Lockerbie
Partners from the G-PaTRA consortium met in Ghent, Belgium at the end of March 2018 for an internal workshop to learn more about the project partner regions and the challenges each face with regard to green passenger transport in remote, rural and island areas.

The G-PaTRA consortium comprises local and regional transport authorities as well as research and advocacy organisations. Each G-PaTRA region – Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Norway – has unique challenges but also share similarities which all project partners feel they can address through transnational cooperation.

Transport in remote and rural areas is dominated by the private car, which is particularly carbon intensive. The project is looking at ways of increasing the use of zero emission public transport vehicles and vessels, better optimising available public transport resources, and promoting sharing and other ways of increasing car occupancy. The need to maintain public mobility whilst reducing the number of private kilometres driven is a priority shared by all partner regions.

Part of the workshop was focussed on learning about the legal and regulatory frameworks faced in partner countries – specifically Belgium, Germany, Norway and Scotland - and identifying barriers to success with regards to these. The workshop revealed significant differences between partner countries in the way that public transport is regulated, coordinated and funded. However, financial resourcing was identified as a barrier in all G-PaTRA regions and discussions focused on how issues such as governance, planning, and local quality, safety and operational factors also facilitate or hinder innovation in partner regions. 

Attendees of the workshop were also given an overview of the lighthouse projects each project partner will be undertaking as part of G-PaTRA.


Aalborg University in Denmark will pilot a carpooling scheme in a cluster of villages which is specifically aimed at teenagers and parents. A significant amount of time is spent by parents transporting their teenage children to social activities, and informal carpooling happens in closed communities already. By incentivising a formal scheme - with a gamification approach for teens, and saving time for parents - the pilot will develop a new model for green transport in rural areas. It is hoped that along with contributing to green transport, there will be additional benefits – “drive together, know each other” – with greater welfare benefits being achieved for the same number of kilometers travelled.

The Office for Regional Development Leine and Weser in Germany plan to pilot the MoReMa project. This will use existing underused vehicles matched to willing drivers to provide shuttle services to regular public transport, transport to cultural events, and a bus for young people. The lighthouse project includes the development of software to support the matching, planning and organising of these trips, which will be open source and available to everyone. 

In Aberdeenshire a case study of the town of Turriff will be undertaken by Aberdeenshire Council as a lighthouse project – “Aberdeenshire Passenger Transport Rationalisation Analysis (APATRA)” – which will include a total transport review with a view to provide a better service with greater control of emissions and costs associated with public transport provision.  A model process will be developed that can be replicated in other areas of Aberdeenshire (and potentially elsewhere).

The Provinces of Drenthe and Groningen in the Netherlands are looking at transport pooling in rural areas, with the aim to provide as many people as possible with travel that is independent, comfortable, efficient and affordable. Through efficient planning, combining different groups and creating hubs and innovations in the region it is hoped that a rural Mobility as a Service (MaaS) tool is developed.  

Taxistop in Belgium are seeking to develop a four layered approach to transport provision in the Flanders region. It would include the train network, the core bus network, a complementary network, and customised transport (taxis, shared mobility etc.). The lighthouse project will link with several existing Taxistop initiatives including Mobihubs (which focuses on on-demand first mile transport), Mobitwin (which matches drivers with cars to those needing transport) and SocialCar (a carpooling model). 

On the final afternoon the remaining delegates travelled by minibus to the town of Deinze, around 20 km from Ghent. This is the site of Taxistop’s Lighthouse project and the first Mobihub in Belgium. The mayor of Deinze, Jan Vermuelen, explained how the Mobihub will alter mobility in the town and the surrounding villages, and led the group on a tour of the town to see various sites that are expected to benefit from improved mobility, such as the Art School.