HA Spatial Planning Flagship MARA supports implementation of the VASAB LTP

MARA (Mobility and Accessibility in Rural Areas) is an Interreg BSR project which aims to improve the mobility and accessibility in and to remote and rural areas in the countries of the Baltic Sea region (BSR). Many of those areas are also important touristic destinations. The project partnership consists of 12 regional and national public administrations and universities from nine BSR countries. 13 associated partners are involved.

The project lasts from January 2019 to June 2021. In May 2019 project has received a Flagship status of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) under the Horizontal Action Spatial Planning as it contributes to improved internal accessibility of the region and supports implementation of the VASAB Long-Term Perspective for Territorial Development of the BSR within the EUSBSR.

Population decline, demographic change and seasonal fluctuation of inhabitants and tourists are some of the common challenges that rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region are facing. Furthermore, car dependant lifestyle, expensive public transport and absence of a digital solution to facilitate the use of transport services are factors to increase the importance of MARA project that aims to tackle existing challenges in rural areas.

To address the mentioned challenges MARA aims to crosscheck the actual mobility demand of residents and tourists with current mobility offers. Different analytical tools will be developed to gain insights into the possibilities of improving the mobility offers in rural areas. Based on those results suggestions will be elaborated on how to improve existing mobility offers as well as to develop new mobility solutions. The project aims to develop solutions addressing sustainable and climate-friendly mobility. Developed solutions will be tested in selected case study regions as pilot cases. Thereby, the capacity of regional and local transport actors will be increased.

The case of the Lead Partner, the Ministry of Energy, Infrastructure and Digitalization of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, seeks to improve public mobility services in rural areas. In this special case it is aimed to improve the offers of a call-a-bus-system. In the frame of the Latvian case the Vidzeme Planning Region wants to set up a Citizen bus. They are also developing a concept for an e-bike/e-cargo bike sharing system. The Setesdal Regional Council, Norway, is doing the same for one of their cases. Additionally, they want to gain knowledge around the implementation possibilities for car sharing in rural areas. In an eastern region of Poland the Bialystock Technical University and the Hajnowka District are working together to implement a car- and e-bike-sharing system, especially aimed towards tourists, as well. The Swedish Transport Ministry and Dalarna University is developing an integrated mobility plan for the Sälen/Trysil area. One aspect here is also to foster the intraregional cooperation with the Åre area in neighbouring Norway. In Lithuania the possibility of extending existing car sharing solutions to touristic remote areas are evaluated by the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. The Tourist Information Center of the Republic of Karelia is cooperating with the Petrozavodsk City Administration, both are the Russian partners of the project. They are developing three mobility routes on Onega lake (2nd largest in Europe), between the city of Petrozavodsk and Zaonezhje area.

The case studies are mainly in their concept phase. In a later stage some of the cases will be implemented as pilot projects. Further information of the projects and the cases can be found on the respective section of the project website: www.mara-mobility.eu

Last but not least, the project will integrate its improved or new mobility approaches in remote areas into regional spatial and mobility development plans. This will increase the long-term impact of the main project outputs beyond the frames of MARA project and help to share the project results within the Baltic Sea Region.