Long distances, sparse population and financial challenges. These issues were at the core of the Rural Transport Solutions project (RTS). The RTS project was supported by European Union Northern Periphery Programme whose mission is to help northern and remote areas to develop their economic, social and environmental potential. RTS project's mission was to better people's means to move, live and work in rural and coastal areas of Europe. RTS project's aim was to develop sustainable rural and coastal transport schemes and services, reducing social exclusion and enhancing the vitality and sustainability of sparsely populated areas in the Northern Periphery.
RTS Partner regions higlighted
The regions participating in this project are located in sparsely populated areas, close to national land or sea borders. The main problems that these areas face are remoteness, low population density, limited public transport opportunities, lack of suitable services and ageing population with youth out-migration. The RTS project addresses these hardships by exploiting the opportunities offered by new transport solutions in order to improve competitiveness and accessibility of peripheral (rural and costal) areas, including populated islands. The RTS project is attempting to find new ways of combining tax paid or subsidized public transport with private transport, aiming at organising sustainable transport systems, meeting the transport needs of companies, schools, hospitals, health and social service organizations, employers, chambers of commerce, hotels and other tourism industries and private citizens. Transport services and solutions are crucial elements of community structure. If comprehensively planned, these systems will enable new possibilities for economic, social and environmental development. In Europe’s northern sparsely populated areas there are great structural difficulties to compete with. Demand for services are increasing especially in elderly care, as our societies are slowly but steadily ageing.
Public services such as transport, health and social services are currently facing stress caused by the economy downturn in Europe. Europe’s economies will probably suffer the aftermath caused by recession in the current year (2009) and in the next few years. Current economic difficulties may seem hard to overcome. The situation at hand also gives us new thrust to think ahead. How we can develop and better the accessibility of our services in times where budget surpluses are nowhere to be seen. The answer lies in new service models, new customers and cost-effectiveness. The outcomes from the Rural Transport Solutions project will benefit the whole area of the Northern Periphery Programme.
Greenhouse gas emissions, originating from different types of transport, continue to rise in the European Union. This causes harm not only for the environment but also for peoples’ health. EU transport policies point out that it is essential to take account of all aspects of sustainability covering the entire transport system (Review of the European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development 2009.) Establishing functional, viable and wide public transport networks is an important step towards more environmental minded transport solutions.