The region Thal, located in the administrative area of the Swiss Canton of Solothurn, has to face issues typical for rural regions in Western Europe. Due to structural change in the economy the region lost jobs in industry, without beeing able to compensate with service sector development. Compared to central cities, the region is lacking accessibility and location quality for companies, while quality of life in terms of natural environment is high. While connection by both public transport and roads is given, due to the high amount of out-commuters the street providing access to the region is overloaded during peak hours. Alternatives are limited due to the special topography, which is not allowing to increase capacity or build alternatives.
The region, which is struggling to remain its economic basis, is put at risk to experience a decrease of accessibility as one important factor of location quality. In order to avoid this and a down-circle of regional development innovative solutions are necessary. An issue which the region of Thal has in common with many other regions lacking in infra- and economic structure.
Students of Zurich University of Applied Sciences analysed the regional situation and developed approaches to solve the problem: Besides re-organizing traffic and transport infrastructure at the bottleneck, private or by employers organized car-sharing or shuttle systems and alternative routes for the existing public transport are suggested – showing that already small measures could have a large regional impact, while the main barrier for realization might be to find an agreement between local groups of different interest within the region.
Source of pictures: Bai, Glarner, Rüegger, Streuli, Weber