/ Reading: 7 min.

27. Apr 2023
/ Germany
PERSPECTIVES from Maximilian Hillmeier
Since December 2021, EMMI-MOBIL has been driving with two electric minibuses through the municipal area of Bad Hindelang. By doing the service is supplementing the existing public transport service as an on-demand service in order to offer an attractive flexible and free-of-charge mobility solution, especially for the guests of the Allgäu holiday region. A good reason for ioki insights to ask Maximilian Hillmeier, tourism director of Bad Hindelang, how demand-responsive mobility can be successfully established as part of a sustainable tourism strategy and how the future of mobility in holiday regions can look like.

What is EMMI-MOBIL and how does it work?  

As an innovative mobility offer, EMMI-MOBIL combines existing public transport lines with individual on-demand ridepooling. Therefore, the service is a seamless complement to regular public transport services closing the gaps in the existing public transport network, especially the first and last mile. EMMI-MOBIL stands for “emission-free. together. individual.” The electric-powered minibuses (“emission-free”) are called via a multimodal app and take passengers to the nearest public transport stop. If there is no bus within a short distance, EMMI-MOBIL drives directly to the destination. The ridepooling approach of EMMI-MOBIL combines journeys in the same direction. Using the shuttle becomes a shared ride experience and significantly improves the mobility offer within the local area (“together”). Without fixed routes – commonly within classic public transport – the vehicles approach the virtual stops in a route-optimised manner and thus unnecessary detours are avoided during operation. The virtual stops are located throughout the entire municipal area. In this way, EMMI-MOBIL acts primarily as a feeder to the bus stations/stops from the “front door” and can provide significantly better connections, especially to remote areas of the municipality that are not reached by regular public transport services (“individual”). 

EMMI-MOBIL is thus an environmentally friendly and real alternative to private transport for citizens, day visitors and overnight guests, and the solution for public transport in rural regions and municipalities. Since guests with the guest card and local citizens with the citizen card use the service free of charge, they are even more likely to leave their cars at home. By intensifying the use of public transport, the volume of traffic in the community is reduced and CO2-emissions are cut. In this way, EMMI-MOBIL contributes directly to the protection of climate, air and nature, while at the same time increasing the quality of life and the holiday experience and ensuring environmentally compatible mobility. This heralds a new era of mobility in Bad Hindelang: more flexible, user-friendly and sustainable. 

Why has Bad Hindelang decided to use demand-responsive transport – especially with regard to a sustainable tourism strategy?  

The unique natural landscape in combination with the excellent air quality (“One of the places with the best air in the world.”, WHO/2018) represents the most important asset for our climatic health and “for allergy sufferers tested health resort”. They form the decisive basis for all tourism. This means that it is our primary task to ensure the protection and preservation of the existing natural areas. At the same time, it is important to make the beauty and attractiveness of the region perceptible for the guests and to not only secure the central economic factor of our town with tourism, but above all to strengthen its quality. In this complex field of tension, we solve this extremely important and at the same time sensitive issue with EMMI-MOBIL – especially amidst the background that mobility on holiday is becoming increasingly important for guests.   

That is why we have been committed for many years to the promotion and provision of sustainable tourist offers in the region, which, in addition to strengthening the quality of tourism, above all serve the climate and mobility turn. EMMI-MOBIL is thus another building block for reducing individual traffic and the search for empty parking spaces in the municipality, contributes to reducing CO2 emissions locally and fits seamlessly into the overall strategy of the living space concept “Unser Bad Hindelang 2030”. Because in the habitat concept “Unser Bad Hindelang 2030” with integrated tourism strategy, the citizens and guests have given the highest priority to the “Ökomodell Hindelang” and the intangible cultural heritage of “high alpine farming culture in Bad Hindelang” in 2019. Thus, the protection of climate, air and nature to increase the quality of life and holiday experience was laid down in the habitat concept.   

In this context, the municipal council resolution to reduce private traffic and the search for empty parking spaces in Bad Hindelang, which was passed on the basis of a brand survey, forms a cornerstone. EMMI-MOBIL was therefore introduced as an environmentally friendly mobility offer for our rural area municipality of Bad Hindelang with its total of 6 districts and numerous hamlets as a supplement to the regular public transport service for citizens, overnight guests and day visitors on the basis of the on-demand philosophy. 

EMMI-MOBIL has already received 4 awards, 1st place in the Vitalpin KlimaInvestment Preis 2021 as the best climate protection project in the Alpine region as well as the ARGE ALP Klimaschutzpreis 2022 and 2nd and 3rd place respectively in the ADAC-Tourismuspreis Bayern 2023and theDeutscher Tourismuspreis 2022. Why do you think the service is so successful?  

We are of course extremely proud to have received four awards in our very first year. We really did not expect this great success. The numerous awards are a really great appreciation by the highly qualified juries for our efforts for a more sustainable mobility in the living space of Bad Hindelang.  

I think that several factors are decisive for the success. For example, we certainly brought the right offer to the market at exactly the right time and hit a nerve with it. The awareness for a more sustainable lifestyle and the protection and preservation of our livelihoods has risen strongly in our society in recent years. In Bad Hindelang, raising awareness for the protection and preservation of the unique natural and cultural landscape has been lived for centuries. The “Ökomodell Hindelang”, which stands for the large-scale protection of the intact alpine cultural landscape and ecologically high-quality products without overexploitation of natural resources, reflects an essential part of the special local identity. EMMI-MOBIL is an ideal match for our local identity and reflects it authentically.    

Furthermore, EMMI-MOBIL is a real and environmentally friendly alternative to the car and THE solution for public transport in rural regions and communities. Thanks to the intelligent ridepooling software, EMMI-MOBIL can ideally complement the existing public transport system and, in particular, provide significantly better connections to remote community areas that are not reached by regular public transport. The switch to public mobility services is made much easier by the flexible, demand-oriented mobility offer. As a pilot project for soft mobility, EMMI-MOBIL serves as a model for the entire region and far beyond. Time and again, the expert juries of the individual awards have emphasised this exemplary function and the transferability of EMMI-MOBIL to other regions.  

Good and reliable partners are also crucial for success. We consider ourselves lucky enough that we were able to gain an absolutely reliable and competent operator for our mobility service in the company “Komm mit”. And since the beginning of April, we have another good and reliable partner at our side in ioki, which provides us with the digital on-demand platform and enables us to integrate it into the public transport system. 

What do you think mobility must look like in a holiday region in the future?  

Mobility offers in holiday regions must first and foremost be a real alternative to the car in order to reduce individual transport. After all, the biggest problem for many holiday regions is local traffic, which the infrastructure cannot adequately cope with. For example, according to the publication “BN INFORMIERT – Tourismus in den bayerischen Alpen – Von der Traumlandschaft zum übernutzten Berggebiet” (2020), the number of people who can travel to the Allgäu by car within 2.5 hours increased about thirteenfold between 1970 and 2020! However, a corresponding expansion of the railways and thus of public transport for the journey has not yet taken place, so that the regions are increasingly called upon to become active themselves.  

In order to tackle the problem of local mobility, attractive offers with easy access must be created. Only local public transport can contribute to reducing individual transport, so it must be strengthened. However, in order to achieve the highest possible flexibility and provide a real alternative to the car, demand-responsive transport is the ideal solution to complement and strengthen public transport. If the use of such services is also offered free of charge to holiday guests, for example as part of the guest card, as is the case here in Bad Hindelang, there is nothing to prevent the success of more sustainable mobility. With such attractive mobility offers, guests are more than willing to leave their cars behind. 

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