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Social trends

Public transport is gaining ground

The future is public transport. Experts believe that growth in population and centralization are two main trends in favour of public transport.

The Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics (TOI) has recently carried out a futures study where 300 experts have given their views on public transport in the years to come.

“In short, there is agreement that public transport will take over more passenger transport, especially in cities. They also believe that mobile communications technology will change people’s travel habits significantly”, says senior research analyst Tom Erik Julsrud at TOI.

The travel experience itself becomes more important

Young people increasingly postpone taking their driving test or reject driving altogether.

An increasing number wish to travel in an environmentally friendly manner. As the incidence of traffic jams increases in line with population growth, the bus and train become more attractive modes of transport. On the bus and train you are free to do other things, like surfing the net, reading for exams or working.

“Our studies show that the most ardent users of public transport today are teenagers and women in cities. These groups are quick to adopt new communications technologies,” says Julsrud. He believes that now is the time for NSB to ensure its competitiveness by developing services that make choosing public transport even more attractive.

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Soon, every Norwegian will have a smartphone. This provides new possibilities for how people organise their journeys.

Tom Erik Julsrud, The Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics

Must meet the customer’s needs

Soon, every Norwegian will have a smartphone.

“This provides new possibilities for how people organise their journeys. Individual mobility is growing quickly; people plan and organise their journeys themselves. If delays occur, they are quick to find alternative solutions. People want real time information, and public transport providers need to be on the ball”, says Julsrud. He believes the NSB app is a good example of improved service, eg by enabling you to check whether the train is on time.

Another general social trend is that long distance commuting is on the increase. This favors the train, both because many work-related journeys are into and out of cities where the train has a good service, and because many wish to work during the journey.

“It is therefore important that NSB meet these long distance commuters’ needs”, says Julsrud. Similarly, those who live outside urban areas should have a practical alternative to the car. 

Freight will go by rail

Transport is not just about moving people, but also moving goods.

“The railway is a cost efficient service for freight transport between large cities in the south of Norway and between southern and northern Norway. Many customers want to load their goods in the evening for arrival early the next morning. Offering such a service the railway is competitive provided everything works as it should”, says head of research for industry and transportation, Inger Beate Hovi at TOI.

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The railway is a cost efficient service for freight transport between large cities in the south of Norway and between southern and northern Norway.

Inger Beate Hovi, Head of research The Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics

Growth in population and centralization are also two strong driving forces working in favour of rail-freight.

“We also see that business is increasingly concerned about cost efficiency at all levels, promoting rail-freight which is so much cheaper than road transport between terminals”, says Hovi.

Increased focus on the environment is obviously no disadvantage for the train, and some of the larger buyers of transport services are now taking the iniative by showing social responsibility through choosing a more environmentally-friendly mode of transport. Hovi points out trends such as increased shopping on the internet and express delivery. Delivering directly to the end customer will also become more important for future rail-freight.