The Alpine Region as a hotspot of cross-border commuter flows in Europe

31st Jan 2019
Outgoing commuters 2016 - Alpine Region EUSALP

What are the impacts of high commuter flows to the Alpine Region?

Tens of thousands of commuters move across state borders every day in the Alps. However, existing traffic routes were mostly created with a purely national perspective and are no longer in coherence with the ever-increasing passenger flows across borders; this holds particularly true for public transport systems. Congested roads, noise and pollution for local residents are the result. The share of cross-border commuters, crossing at least one national border on the transfers between home and work, is significantly higher in the Alpine Region than the European average values. This is one of the many findings  of a comprehensive study carried out by the University of Nuremberg-Erlangen in the frame of the ARPAF project CrossBorder.

What causes the striking contrasts between the EU and EUSALP values in cross-border commuter flows?

The contrast between EUSALP values and EU values is striking: 0.9% cross-border share amongst the employees on the EU level compared to 1.6% within the Alpine Region, i.e. almost the double value. This can be explained by a multitude of reasons. The Alpine Region has many national borders; hence, the more borders, the more (potential) cross-border commuters. Also the minor language barriers across borders encourage entering the labor market in other States. Furthermore, differences in the attractiveness of labour markets with some countries offering significantly higher net wages, can be observed. Finally, metropolitan settlements are often situated near the border (Geneva, Basel, Salzburg, Monaco, Trieste, Milan) and thus, attract employees from the surrounding area.

The EUSALP-wide study analyzes existing cross-border commuter flows in twelve pre-selected commuter hotspots in the Alpine Region, focusing on in- and outgoing commuter flows, as well as on infrastructure quality of road and rail. The twelve case studies comprise the regions with the highest commuting intensity (along the Swiss borders Salzburg, Monaco) but also take into account selected smaller commuting areas such as Kufstein-Rosenheim. This selection represents the diversity of commuting patterns throughout the EUSALP region and is based on discussions with the project stakeholders.

The study shows that the structural and spatial characteristics of labour markets have a significant impact on commuter flows which vary from urban to rural and monocentric to polycentric patterns. The border regions with the highest numbers of commuters are located in Switzerland, in particular Basel and Geneva with the highest values (both over 75.000). Also the regions of Jura, Ticino and Lake Constance show high values (all over 47.000). The only region without Swiss involvement with comparably high numbers is Monaco with around 46.000 commuters. The cases of Salzburg, Styria (Graz) and Trieste show the importance of metropolitan cross-border effects.
Looking at the infrastructure side, including “hard” characteristics as the roads and related speeds, but also service quality in the case of rail, the picture is even more complex and strongly influenced by structural factors such as morphology and degree of urbanizsation.

For all case study regions, the numbers of commuters, the characteristics of the commuting system and the infrastructure quality has been evaluated and are visualized in respective maps.

Project CrossBorder to address the issue of increasing cross-border mobility across the Alpine Region

The project CrossBorder, financed under the Alpine Region Preparatory Action Fund (ARPAF), addresses the issue of increasing cross-border mobility across the Alpine Region. It aims at identifying gaps in the infrastructure and at facilitating sustainable cross-border commuting, avoiding negative impacts on economy, society and the environment. The project implementation lasts until the end of 2019. So far different models for cross-border commuter mobility have been analysed; a toolbox with measures for enterprises to encourage sustainable commuter mobility has been developed and with this study also data on commuter flows are available. This data supports the identification of the challenges in each hotspot area, which is neccessary to find suitable solutions together with the local stakeholders and service providers.

The project is led by the Swiss Center for Mountain Regions SAB (AG5 co-lead) and partnered by the Office of the Tyrolean Government (AG4 lead representing the European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino) and CIPRA International.

Title of the Study: Analysis of existing cross-border mobility networks
Authors: Prof. Dr. Tobias Chilla, Anna Heugel M.A., University of Erlangen
Publication: 21.12.2018
Contracting authority: Amt der Tiroler Landesregierung, Sachgebiet Verkehrsplanung


Final Report: Analysis of existing cross-border mobility networks in the Alpine Region

Thu 31st Jan 2019