The story of Oslo and Akershus is the story of many metropolitan areas. Cities begin where people meet, where people travel to shop, experience and learn. The city is growing and trade is increasing, services and activities are developed and more people travel and move to the cities. The transport pattern will soon define the city and its surrounding area.
The way we meet transport needs is decisive for urban development, and urban development is decisive for transport needs. Dense cities provide for shorter journeys, while a large transport capacity results in urban sprawl and an expansion of the region.
Oslo and Akershus is a unified area in which people live and work. At the same time, the variations across the region are great – from Grünerløkka to Son, from Eidsvoll to Aker brygge, or from Sandvika to Bjørkelangen. A number of cities, small towns and villages, each with its own unique characteristics and identity, make up our urban region. Oslo is the centre of the capital region, but the cities emerging in Akershus are getting an ever-expanding breadth of functions and quality of services. The cities and their surroundings must interact in order for the region to be attractive and easy for people to continue to meet, to shop, experience and to learn in. Mobility is key to the cities’ growth, and for their health and sustainability.
The story of Norway is the story of few countries. One thing we now know is that if we are to continue to develop our cities so that people want to live, work and meet there, we must adopt new approaches to the development of mobility in the cities. The car, which gave us freedom in the 1960s, has become a burden. The car now requires too much, which reduces our freedom. We see this and know that something must be done. We know that public transport services must be developed, and that if more people choose to travel by public transport, it will be easier for those who have no other choice but to drive their own car. We have been working on this for a while and see that it works: one articulated bus replaces 1,000 metres of queue. Economists estimate that one Norwegian krone in public transport subsidy, results in four and a half krone in payback to society, yet public transport is still considered an expense item in local budgets. The state has a key role in ensuring that public funds are spent on measures optimising societal benefits, where the calculation is based on market potential and customer needs.
We are at a crossroads, and we must take back freedom and independence for travellers. Much of what we know about transport planning must be continued and enhanced, but at the same time technological developments help us see new solutions. Solutions must be developed that combine mass transport with individual, bespoke solutions. We must see walking, cycling, driving, taking the bus and the tram as more closely interconnected. The customer should not notice the complexity that underlies the services. The underlying system is becoming ever smarter, and the customers will therefore easily be able to move freely in the growing urban region. The key to this is a dense network of travel opportunities with high frequencies, large capacities, modern technology and accessibility for those walking or cycling. Individually adapted information solutions and mobility services must be developed in collaboration with the customers. The role of the car must be redefined: it must be easier to share and get access to a car when needed and less of a need to own a car.
M2016 in ten points
Ruter’s M2016 takes the step from public transport strategy to mobility strategy. Therein lies the recognition that a public transport company like Ruter, with its partners and operators, should take a broader approach to mobility challenges. The vision for the future is that a denser and more integrated mobility services will make it easier for customers to leave their car and at the same time have freedom and flexibility in their everyday lives. The steps towards this future are built on a combination of known solutions and new development strategies. As a point of departure is the politically agreed-upon and ambitious goal, that private car traffic in Oslo and Akershus is not to grow. In M2016 we ask: what is needed to enable public transport, along with cycling and walking, to meet the growth in personal transport demand in the region? Ten points summarise the most important messages in this document:
- The customers should have more choices, and it should be easier for more people to leave their car. Ruter will develop a dense and flexible network of integrated, high-quality mobility solutions, so that services are attractive for journeys related to work, school, shopping, services and leisure.
- We should create value in collaboration with the customers and thus ensure continuous and targeted innovation. We should utilise the opportunities provided for by technological developments to find the best solutions for the mobility services of the future.
- We need sustainable urban development where mobility services enhance the attractiveness of the region. Ruter wants an organic urban development from the centre on outwards and densification in city centres, in station towns, and at public transport hubs. Ruter wants the municipalities to support the recommendations from the Planning collaboration and works actively to develop good transport hubs, regional cities and urban corridors that can support an attractive, efficient and green mobility service. The collaboration on land use planning should be expanded to include neighbouring counties and the organisation of mobility services should be developed in line with the expansion of the functional capital region, through a shared, market-oriented administrative company for Eastern Norway.
- Cycling and walking must be part of a comprehensive mobility service. The services for those who cycle must be boosted so that the interaction between walking, cycling and public transport as travel modes interact well. This entails the development of a safe, high-quality network of cycling paths in the region, the development of good city streets, where the role of the car has been reduced, the creation of more bicycle parking near public transport hubs and integrated information and payment solutions for city bikes.
- Oslo, the tram city must become a reality. Ruter wants to strengthen the tram’s role in the city, to create a better and more efficient service and contribute to the city’s attractiveness. We will work for good street solutions that improve the urban landscape, where the role of the tram is incorporated in a comprehensive urban development perspective along with walking and cycling solutions. Ruter wants collaboration with city planners and local businesses to develop good streets that safeguard both mobility and local activities at street level.
- Modern, environmentally friendly buses should service user-friendly transport hubs efficiently and at high frequencies, and should strengthen the transversal mobility services in the region. This requires dedicated lanes, removal of on-street parking, and traffic regulation measures that strengthen the competitiveness of public transport. Ruter will develop modern bus facilities with renewable energy solutions, mainly biogas and electricity.
- We must prioritise the projects that have the greatest utility and the best market potential. After the Fornebu Line, a new metro tunnel through Oslo should be built, along with upgrades of the tram network and the development of good and accessible terminals for transfers between bicycle, bus and rail-based modes of transport. Further, the train should be developed to play a greater role in the city, through the development of a local train system in which a north-south tunnel through Oslo is central. A prerequisite for the prioritisation of new projects is the safeguarding and maintenance of existing materials and infrastructure, so that we at all times ensure efficient utilisation of public transport resources. For street traffic, priority access and the elimination of congestion delays for public transport is very profitable and a prerequisite for success.
- The on-demand service RuterFlex will provide customers with increased freedom. The service should contribute to the densification of the mobility network and making it relevant for more customers. RuterFlex should complement the ordinary services by providing customers with flexibility regarding time of travel, travel mode, the number of travellers, and the route.
- We need shorter planning processes and a stronger ability to implement measures. The follow-up of the Concept Study Oslo Hub should be executed by a joint planning office to ensure progress in the realisation of the most important projects. The construction of new lines, such as the Romerike Line between Lørenskog and Skedsmo, should be managed by infrastructure companies, responsible for the planning, land acquisition and financing.
- The basis for public transport financing should be strengthened through a new financing package. Ruter recommends a new boost for investments in public transport in the capital region, through a financing model for investments and operations, where motorists and public transport passengers as well as regional and national authorities contribute, and which secures the necessary annual increase in operating funds to handle increased passenger numbers.