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Students suggest new public transport solutions

As part of the very first ECIU University pilot, students Arne Kragseth and Elisabeth Stene came up with a triple solution for a better mobility in the Stavanger region.

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To studenter utenfor Arne Rettedals hus, med en rutebuss i bakgrunnen.

They were among some 30 UiS students who signed up for the very first pilot project at ECIU University. The ECIU university network, in which UiS is the Norwegian member, invites students across Europe to solve real-world challenges suggested by external partners.  

In this particular challenge students Kragseth and Stene worked with regional mobility provider Kolumbus, exploring barriers to increased use of public transport in the Stavanger region. This is a sprawling urban area with many sparsely populated neighbourhoods, which makes it difficult to create a comprehensive public transport system.   

Kragseth and Stene dug into the challenges and barriers to increased public transport use, like time consumption, flexibility, and availability. They came up with a three-pronged solution:  

  1. Employing different-sized buses, even single-user podcars  
  2. Introducing self-driving vehicles  
  3. Using artificial intelligence to solve the logistics  

This involves using podcars to take the customers directly to their destination, or to one of the main bus lanes for a longer journey. This solution would be flexible, and therefore increase use of public transport. It would also reduce congestion, energy use and parking needs.  

New impulses

Espen Strand Henriksen, mobility developer at Kolumbus, was working with the students as challenge provider. 

«In recent years, Kolumbus has had a close and good collaboration with University of Stavanger on several student assignments, internships and other projects. For Kolumbus as a mobility company that works closer on urban development, technology and research than ever before, the relationship with UiS helps by giving us new impulses» he says. 

Kolumbus, which is owned by Rogaland county, is now in the process of expanding their offer to include city bikes, self-driving buses, trains, walking, car sharing and door-to-door transport. 

Challenging mindsets 

An economics student at University of Stavanger, Stene also took part in the ECIU Creathon 2018 at Twente University.   

«That experience inspired me to challenge my mindset. So when this project came up, I naturally wanted to be part of it. It enabled me to step out of my comfort zone, dare to think bigger and look for the potential. For innovation to happen you have to first launch some ‘crazy’ ideas, and then rather scrutinize those ideas afterwards» she says. 

She praises the ECIU University model of working with society.  

«I cannot speak highly enough about it. When universities enable knowledge exchange through collaboration, great societal gains can be made».   

«Very valuable» 

Kragseth values that he was given the opportunity to work on a real case.   

«Academic studies can be quite far removed from the practical world, so this was very valuable» he says. About to complete his degree in hospitality leadership, Kragseth found the project to be highly relevant.   

«The tourism sector also needs to be innovative» he says.   

Two other pairs of students, from Linköping in Sweden and Twente in the Netherlands respectively, took the same challenge, but applied it to their own regions.  

New pilots 

Thie first pilot of ECIU University in Stavanger was hosted by the UiS Business School in the autumn semester of 2020. In the spring of 2021, ECIU University opened up to students across the board from the 12 universities, launching over 30 new challenges. More challenges will be launched in coming semesters.

ECIU University is supported by the European Commission through the European Universities (Erasmus+) inititative. Want to join us or just learn more? Take a look at the ECIU University Challenge platform here

Read more about UiS' involvement in ECIU and ECIU University