STUDENTS AND ACADEMICS COME UP WITH GREEN SOLUTIONS FOR THEIR CITY TOGETHER
During seminar classes in Geoeconomics, first-year students from the faculty discussed the challenges of the urban environment in which they live. On the one hand, they presented their views on the INNOAIR project through their own work, and on the other, they discussed the environmental and, in particular, transport problems in the city of Plovdiv, but of course, the young people's view also covered the topic on a global scale. The students also had the opportunity to present best practices and their ideas on innovative and environmentally friendly methods and technologies for urban mobility. The students' curiosity about new technological solutions ranged from electric scooters to bullet trains. Also, SMART solutions in urban mobility such as smart park-n-nodes and the need for a more sustainable transport industry did not escape their eyes.
INNOAIR was presented as the first Bulgarian project focused on providing innovative and creative solutions to urban challenges to improve air quality and stimulate green transport. The students showed interest in the on demand green public transport and green corridors. The overall thrust of the participants was in highlighting the need for change in urban mobility due to pollution and air quality. Plovdiv is among the cities with a growing need for measures and solutions in this direction.
Specifically, in their paper titled "Innovative and Environmentally Friendly Methods for Urban Mobility", the students' interest was focused on on-demand transport and smart busses. The fast connection and easy access via the internet as well as the possibility of arranging the location of the on-demand transport were put forward as conveniences. The smart bus received special attention because it eliminates the waiting at bus stops and its’ ease of adapting routes and schedules.
Initiatives that reduce the need to use a private car have not escaped the minds of the creative young audience. The students presented the idea of Car Next Door as an alternative to rental cars. The aim is to rent cars directly between users registered in the system. Based on the example of an Australian company, a flexible alternative system is proposed, a hybrid of several already popular options for the use of other peoples’ cars, including both the possibility of daily or hourly rental between users and a choice between car, SUV and van, and a feedback system with evaluation of the vehicle after it has been used; GPS technology to track the location and provide insurance for both parties, and payment processing.
Young people's fascination with mobile apps is reflected in their interest in Sofia Coin, a mobile app that encourages citizens to adopt eco-friendly ways of getting around. Good practices from Western Australia, such as the Department for Transport's on-demand transport project, were discussed, as well as the advantages and status of ridesharing in the US, Western Europe and Bulgaria as an innovative mode of transport.