Sustainable urban mobility must come first: So how do you get people out of their cars?

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  • EU Policy

As operators and designers of public transport services, our public authorities and policy makers have the opportunity to shape and structure urban spaces through mutual collaboration. 

The best way to make the most positive impact on people’s living conditions, and to influence their daily mobility choices, is to offer the very best options for movement.  

Enter the collaborative efforts of UITP and the European Committee of the Regions asking one of the most important questions in urban mobility: How do you get people out of their cars?

For those of us with an eye on mobility, we know that there’s too many cars on the roads used for single person, single vehicle journeys.

We also know that getting people to consider the many options on their doorsteps makes our cities better for all of those who call them home.

But what practical solutions have proven to be successful for getting citizens on to public transport?

Shared experiences and transferrable ideas met when more than 160 international participants jointed this topical Conference.

Opened by UITP President Pere Calvet and Chair of the CoR COTER Commission Isabelle Boudineau, the gathering brought sustainable urban mobility to the agenda.

In Europe, the road transport sector is responsible for over half of all NOx emissions and accounts for 72% of the 27% of the EU’s total GHG emissions which are attributable to transport.

This is resulting in irreversible damage to our natural environment, with a detrimental impact on quality of life and the health of citizens in our towns and cities (air pollution, urban congestion, noise emissions, and more.)

"Emissions from the transport sector continue to rise. The European Union cannot succeed in its Green Deal if regions and cities are not at the forefront of efforts to provide an efficient and clean public-transport service. They are the actors most capable of proposing innovative solutions that make it possible to stop using private cars." said Isabelle Boudineau, Chair of the ECoR Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER). 

The European Green Deal highlights the need for transport to become drastically less polluting in urban areas in particular, and emphasises the importance of a combination of measures aimed at reducing emissions, mitigating urban congestion and improving public transport options.

UITP President Pere Calvet welcomed the speakers and the audience in his opening remarks by setting the scene for the discussion, “At UITP, we’re convinced that a shift from private cars to public transport and active modes, cycling and walking, is the best way to decarbonise people’s daily mobility.” the President told our audience.

The Conference began with a discussion on how cars have shaped our cities and why a modal shift is needed.

How do European travel? And how can our mobility choices be influenced?

In the context of the new European Green Deal, which calls for a 90% reduction in transport emissions by 2050, Sylvie Landrieve and Susan Grant-Muller of Forum vies mobiles and the University of Leeds presented their examples and implementations for improving mobility in our cities: Behavioural change, incentivisation and understanding the different measures required for various locations should always be considered.  

The Conference also featured two Urban Mobility Toolbox sessionsPart one presented a range of best practices and experiences with several aspects of urban mobility, in particular aspects of seamless travel, urban access regulations and offer and demand management.

BKK Budapest, RATP, Arriva and the Land Transport Authority, Singapore participated in the discussion on discouraging the use of cars and answering urban mobility needs.

The second urban mobility toolbox session focused on the practical experiences in relation to fare policy and multimodality, including pedestrianised areas, as well as access restrictions and zero emission zones. Participating in the discussion were SSB, Stuttgart, Wiener Linien, Vienna, the City of Balbao and Krakow Public Transport Authority.

The final part of the Conference was dedicated to a panel session on how to achieve a greener, carbon-free urban transport system in Europe and deliver the urban mobility of tomorrow.

Sir Albert Bore, Birmingham City Councillor, Clara De La Torre, Deputy-Director General, DG CLIMA, Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg MEP, Member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, Miguel Gaspar, Deputy Mayor for Mobility & Safety, City of Lisbon and Elke Van den Brandt, Minister of the Government of Brussels Capital Region responsible for Mobility, Public Works and Road Safety, brought their experience and ideas on how to find the right balance between the urgent need for a long-term paradigm shift and today’s short-term mobility need.

Matthew Baldwin, Deputy-Director General of DG MOVE at the European Commission, concluded the Conference with these wise words: “To my reading, public transport will become the cornerstone of the new MFF 2021-2027”. A successful conclusion!

“The Green Deal is a game changer and it’s an opportunity. Its ambitious objectives in terms of climate neutrality, and more generally in terms of sustainability, will not be met unless public transport and a modal shift to sustainable daily mobility are given priority. A number one priority. It’s the bus that takes kids to school, the tram that takes me to the office and the metro that takes you to the movies which will really make the difference.” said Thomas Avanzata, UITP Europe Senior Director. 

What has been made perfectly clear from the joint UITP and European Committee of the Regions Conference is this: There is life without the car.

There’s also a demand for further EU support in sustainable urban mobility and the modernisation of public transport in Europe’s metropolitan areas.

Through examples, incentivisation and investment a modal shift can be made to encourage more people to leave the car at home and use the many mobility options available in our cities.

Catch up on the each panel session and discussion with the live social media feed!

All Conference presentations are available on MyLibrary

UITP’s Europe department has been active on many important issues facing the EU…catch-up on our response to the new EU Green Deal, the priorities for EU Policy 2019-2024 and the balance required on rail passengers’ rights and rail operator requirements.

UITP also held a joint Conference with the European Committee of the Regions and UNIFE last September to advocate for urban rail investment. See the progress made through our discussion!

Visit the dedicated UITP Europe site for more on our activities at the European level

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