Trafikverket Region Syd (Sweden)
The STA Region South is the southern most of the six regions of the Swedish Transport Administration (STA). The STA is responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of all state-owned roads and railways in Sweden. The STA also develops long-term plans for the transport systems on road, railway, sea and flight. Most of the region is covered by forest. The southern parts are dominated by plains where agriculture is conducted on first-class fields. The region hosts international companies and many high-tech suppliers for engineering and pharmaceutical companies as well as six universities. Forestry and agriculture, tourism, trade and logistics are other major industries. The region has a polycentric structure with both urban areas (larger cities, university cities, small towns) and rural areas. The region is slightly more densely populated than Sweden as a whole, especially in the southern parts (Skåne).
The STA Region South covers 71 municipalities and five counties. Land-use planning and location of day-to-day services is the responsibility of municipalities under supervision of the five counties. Planning, constructing and maintaining the infrastructure is the responsibility of both the STA (state-owned roads and railways, mainly in rural areas) and the municipalities (municipal roads, mainly in urban areas). There are five public transport authorities within the region, which are connected to the five counties. The public transport is then operated by a number of public transport operators.
Actual state of accessibility-work
Accessibility issues are handled by several departments at STA Region South. The Society Department has the formal responsibility of accessibility for all. The Planning Department orders new investments and various measures in the existing transport system. The Investment Department carries out these investments/measures, while the Maintenance Department is responsible for maintaining the state-owned roads and railways. There is also a regional advisory board with representatives from interest organisations for people with reduced mobility. Thus, accessibility issues are a part of all employees' day-to day work. The coordination between different departments within the STA Region South as well as between various actors (municipalities, counties, PT authorities etc.) is obviously a great challenge.
The Swedish Transport Policy puts accessibility as the functional objective for the transport system – thus a basis for the work within the STA. The STA has, on national level, produced several practical guidelines for the design of barrier-free public environments and public transport. These guidelines are based on the national legislation and requirements on accessibility and usability for people with reduced mobility.
Parts of the region have conducted extensive and systematic work with accessibility for people with reduced mobility. They developed a working procedure in order to include accessibility in all phases of the planning process. The involvement of an accessibility expert throughout the construction projects contributed to a more accessible end product and avoids new obstacles being created. One challenge for the future is to ensure a similar systematic approach on accessibility issues in the whole region.
Bus stops and walkways in the region have been adapted to accessibility requirements to various extents. Within the national project "Stations for all", railway stations have been adapted. There is also a variation in the standard of resting places along the state-owned roads. In parts of the region there have been attempts to ensure that accessibility issues are addressed in municipal investment projects that are supported by the STA. Training of staff and external actors has then been carried out.
The audit will help the STA Region South to pinpoint their strengths and weakness in their accessibility work – and thereby possible areas for improvement. This will serve as an inspiration for the future work within the region and hopefully for the work on national level as well. After the test period, the region believes that the ISEMOA method could be a useful tool also for other regions. Staff from different departments involved in accessibility work (Society, Planning, Investments, and Maintenance) participated in the meetings for the audit. The STA is large organisation and at this stage the audit focussed on bringing together departments. For future audits, the audit team could preferably also include external actors, such as PT authorities and municipalities/counties. One important outcome of the audit procedure was that the staff had the opportunity to discuss and reflect on accessibility issues and that communication channels were established between actors. The ISEMOA audit resulted in an action plan for improving the region's work with accessibility, which also has to be coordinated with the on-going process of reorganisation within the STA and the work with realising the new Swedish Transport Policy. In the long run, the audit may contribute to a more systematic and effective approach in accessibility work for the region.
Quotes of local stakeholders
“Stakeholders that do not meet on a day-to-day basis, even though they work for the same organisation, were brought together in order to discuss and reflect on their work with accessibility for all.” (Planner, responsible for contacts with municipalities with respect to transport planning)
“The audit highlights the different perceptions and views among stakeholders when it comes to accessibility and how the region is working with such issues.” (Planner, responsible for transport planning)
“The accessibility concept is complex and a bit confusing – it is therefore important to set aside time to really define and establish the concept. After all, it is the ultimate goal for the new Swedish Transport Policy.” (Expert in accessibility for people with functional limitations in public transport)