Presenting our new series: Highlighting brilliant case studies within the Urban Context. Our Cities and Regions network has scoured Europe to bring together the best examples of innovation happening within the urban context. The series includes 14 examples from around Europe.
The case describes the learning process in the establishment and upscaling of the Solartaxi Heidenreichstein. Austria’s first e-taxi powered with electricity from solar power plants offers low-fare mobility services in a small Austrian municipality.
For the price of 2 EUR or 2 Waldviertler (the region’s complementary local currency which has been a success in promoting local business so far) passengers may ride anywhere within the municipality of this small village in Austria’s economically, socially and infrastructure-wise weakest region. Thus affordable and sustainable mobility is offered to the not-so-well off and also the necessity to own more cars per household (this region also has the highest car per capita ownership in Austria due to its weak infrastructure) is lessened.
The SI is well embedded into the region’s solidary economy system and well connected with key stakeholders. However, getting to this point was not easy and project team had to undergo a steep learning process, especially in the initial phase of the implementation process.
Getting the interests of various stakeholders aligned to allow a flourishing development of the social innovation was challenging. In particular, harmonization of various political interests and overcoming of reservations against the project is a long-lasting and still ongoing process. Social workers from local church institutions and project managers from Solarmobil Austria saw the need for such a service, which is offered in many other small municipalities in Austria with regular combustion-engine cars/small buses. The idea had been around for a while; however the role of the initiators (some of the region’s older and trusted social activists, e. g. Karl Immervoll, a well-known theologian and local activist) was of big importance for this region. The region’s poverty and lack in infrastructure on the one hand and its long history of local business initiatives with a strong social and environmental focus on the other was a clear success factor for the SI initiation.
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