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"Cool heads in the hothouse!" Interview with a cc.alps award winner

Samuel Bernhard

Samuel Bernhard, Projectmanager of the IG bus alpin: " Running the buses is a huge task, not just in the start-up phase but also in the long term." © Samuel Bernhard

"30 per cent are 'converts' from cars to public transport!" Switzerland's IG bus alpin community of interests picked up one of prizes worth EUR 10,000 in the cc.alps competition. cc.alps team member Christine Székely spoke to Samuel Bernhard, the IG bus alpin project manager, about the successful project.
Mr Bernhard, the project has now been running since the 2006/07 pilot phase. Who are the beneficiaries of the IG bus alpin project?
In actual fact two complementary levels: At the national level the main beneficiaries are the participating partners, in other words the administrative bodies. At the regional level it's the regions, which are now more easily accessible, and the tourism partners, who are also benefiting from the improved connections with more public transport services now on offer.

How was IG bus alpin able to use the cc.alps prize money?
The prize money is being primarily re-invested in the regions, in other words it is being used directly for the bus operators - i.e. effectively for bus alpin's core service and its route network.

Has this service offer had a tangible impact on people's mobility patterns?
Yes, it has. During the 2006/07 pilot project we conducted questionnaire surveys among the pilot operators. It emerged that there had been a very high switchover effect: 30 per cent of customers considered themselves as "converts" from cars to public transport.

What have been the biggest challenges so far in setting up the project?
Clearly the project financing and profitability. I would say that one of the main problems is the regional base. Running the buses is a huge task, not just in the start-up phase but also in the long term. A crucial point is often the lack of resources to be able to tackle this issue on site.

What possibilities do the regions have to become members themselves?
Firstly they need to be experiencing a problem resulting from the pressure created by tourist traffic. In other words they have little or no offer of public transport to individual excursion destinations. Secondly these excursion destinations also have to appeal to private motorised traffic. A responsible organisation and someone with the necessary resources are just as crucial. There also has to be a certain potential for financial resources for regional sponsors. IG bus alpin supports the regions in setting up these service offers and also with specific questions: what are the financing possibilities? How do you set up a service offer? What scale should it be on? etc.

What are your wishes and plans for the future?
What I would like to see happen in the future is that IG bus alpin is able to anchor itself even more firmly in the mountain regions and is regarded as a possibility for strengthening public transport and shaping tourist offers. I would also like to see more regions joining and following this example. But what I wish for the most is that member regions have the stamina to stay the course and are able to contribute long-term to developing public transport in this way.

Project information
- Country: Switzerland
- Public transport offers aimed at promoting eco-tourism in Switzerland's mountain regions
- Member regions: Chasseral, Gantrisch, Moosalp, Alp Flix, Binntal, Greina, Thal
- Sponsors: Swiss Working Group for Mountain Regions (SAB), Transport and Environment Association (VCS), Swiss Apine Club (SAC), and PostBus Switzerland AG
- Project term: Pilot projects from 2005-2007 IG Bus Alpin since 2008; self-supporting since 2010
- People's choice award and highly commended award from the specialist jury at the Public Transport Innovation Award 2007 (CH)
- 2008: Recognition as one of seven winning projects at CIPRA's cc.alps competition, with prize money worth EUR 10,000

For more information:
www.busalpin.ch (de/fr/it)
www.cipra.org/en/cc.alps/competition (en)