Autonomous buses in the countryside increase accessibility

10 February 2020
The possibilities of living without a car in rural areas in Sweden are small for most people. However, if we can increase rural accessibility while simultaneously reducing car dependence, sustainability and attractiveness will increase, and people without cars are given more opportunities. A collaboration between Ramboll Sweden, RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden), The Swedish Transport Administration and the municipalities of Skellefteå, Eskilstuna, Gotland and Lund will investigate the possibilities of supplementing public transport with self-driving vehicles.
Autonomous bus

Autonomous bus


Joakim Ahlberg

Senior Consultant
T: +46 (10) 6156118

“Rural accessibility is almost entirely depended on car traffic, which is unsustainable from several aspects, some of which concern the climate and inclusion. We must not leave any stone unturned in order to find sustainable solutions that are socially, economically and last but not least ecologically beneficial. Self-driving buses can imply an increased frequency without noticeable higher costs, meaning that more people can leave the car”, Joakim Ahlberg, Ramboll’s participant in the project, says.

Drive Sweden and the Swedish Transport Administration have granted funds to develop a feasibility study based on the local circumstances of Swedish municipalities and the technical possibilities of international actors and thereby creating the basis for procurements and practical implementation.

“It’s urgent work that relates to several of the goals in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The technology for more sustainable transport is already used in urban environments, and it’s time to see how it can be used to extend public transport for others than just city dwellers. We are starting the cooperation with four municipalities with the purpose of finding ways forward for all municipalities," Håkan Burden, project manager in RISE, says.

The project “Self-Driving Vehicles in Rural Areas” is carried out within the strategic innovation program Drive Sweden, a joint venture by Vinnova, Formas and the Swedish Energy Agency. It begins with a transport policy goal concerning a long-term sustainable transport supply for residents and businesses throughout Sweden. The overall objective of the project is to pave the way for an equal, energy-efficient and sustainable self-driving system that can complement today's public transport system.

The project’s relation to the Global Sustainable Development goals 

Goal 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

We want to offer rural areas a resilient infrastructure, both technically and socially.

Goal 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries.

The aim of the project is to examine how self-driving technology can give rural residents opportunities for passenger transport without requiring private car ownership.

Goal 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

The project contributes to a shift towards sustainable mobility in rural areas and, thus, to Sweden achieving the set environmental goals.


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