An app trialled to encourage National Park visitors to leave their car and plan more sustainable journeys has reached its 10,000th journey within a year.
The Journey Planner pilot scheme was launched by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority to help day trippers plan their journey and to encourage them to use alternative options such as public transport and cycling where practical.
Developed with regional transport partnership Tactran, the trial has seen more than 7500 people use the app in its first year and more than 10,000 journeys planned. In a recent survey 52% of users said using the app had made it more likely that they would use public transport, walk or cycle instead of driving.
Scotland’s first National Park attracts around four million visitors every year and 79% of them use their car to travel to and around the Park.
Kenny Auld, Head of Visitor Services at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said: “We know the vast majority of visitors coming to the National Park are arriving in cars and that has implications not just for climate, but also for pressures on local roads and communities.
”Despite known constraints across the sustainable transport network, engagement with the app from visitors has surpassed our expectations. There is clearly demand from visitors for alternatives to car travel and this is something we are keen to develop further.
“There is a long way to go when it comes to improving public and active transport options in rural areas like the National Park but the Journey Planner pilot has enhanced our understanding of the opportunities and challenges in this area and will inform longer term planning on sustainable travel.”
Scotland’s Climate Change Plan update in 2020 set out a commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20 per cent by 2030.
Minister for Transport, Jenny Gilruth MSP said: “We want to help Scotland to become an international leader in Smart Mobility and our Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Investment Fund projects are helping unlock this potential for innovation so I’m pleased to see how well the National Park Journey Planner is being used.
“MaaS has the potential to transform the way we use transport by making public and shared transport options like bus and train as desirable as using our car, all of which helps to create a healthier, more sustainable Scotland. It is only through testing and widespread use that we can see how effective this technology is, so I’d encourage everyone to download the app and try it out.”
The National Park Journey Planner app gives visitors a wider range of travel options in one place, to make it easier to research, plan and book a day trip. It allows visitors to explore points of interest and to check and compare the carbon impacts of different modes of travel.
While not all areas of the National Park can currently be reached by public transport, there are alternatives to car travel for some of the most popular parts of the Park.
The pilot is being used to gather valuable feedback and data on the demand for more transport services, to inform longer term planning on sustainable travel.
It is one of several projects underway as the National Park Authority considers short term and longer term measures to encourage low emission travel. Potential for a shuttle bus to run during peak visitor season is being explored and a detailed study is underway looking at the current travel habits and volumes across the National Park and opportunities to transition to a less car dependant system.
Regional transport partnership Tactran is working with partners across Tayside and Central Scotland to develop online journey planning tools and apps as part of their ENABLE Programme. As well as Loch Lomond& The Trossachs National Park, Tactran is also working with Dundee and Angus College and NHS Tayside on online journey tools.
Tactran Chair, Councillor Andrew Parrott said, “I am delighted to be working with Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority on the ongoing success of the Tactran ENABLE project.
“We hope that this exemplary work can be built on to improve sustainable access to other organisations across the Tactran region.”
The National Park Journey Planner can be downloaded for Apple devices via the App Store or via the Play Store for Android devices. It is also available as a web app on the National Park website: www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/journeyplanner/