From 16-22 September 2018, more than 2,600 cities, in different countries all over the world, will be participating in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK. This year’s annual celebration of sustainable mobility, will be held under the theme of multimodality (‘Mix and Move!’) or as the European Authorities are describing it, the mixing of transport modes within the same journey or for different trips.
This week, dedicated to clean urban transport, is a good opportunity, in these times of growing concerns about climate change, to discuss the many issues which could have an impact on the future of public transport in the European Union (EU).
Perhaps, the most pressing question in the field of mobility is funding. Yes, public transport is a capital intensive sector. This is not new, in fact it has almost always been, but with all the talks about climate change, the return on investment of the mobility projects seems now to be more important as it creates new jobs, fights CO2 emissions, and improves inclusion and the competitiveness of our cities.
The European Commission (EC) is a strong supporter of sustainable urban mobility. Throughout the years, it has adopted numerous regulations to encourage urban dwellers using public transportation modes. Perhaps even more importantly, it has invested billions of euros to develop and modernise the different networks available to European citizens.
Last May 2018, the EC presented its latest budget, the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). This comprehensive draft proposal of the next long-term EU budget offers a rare opportunity to present a new approach of developing new public transport projects which would help unleash the potential of cities for the achievement of European growth and climate goals.
European cities host two-thirds of the Union’s population. It, therefore, is crucial to increase existing funding levels for urban mobility to move more effectively towards a low-carbon economy. In order to achieve this, it is essential that cities are more closely involved in implementing concrete solutions, notably by keeping them under the main budgetary targets.
Local authorities are on the front line, when it comes to citizens’ services. They have a clear picture of the different characteristics of their respective urban environments and the specific needs of their population. If the Urban Agenda for the EU, launched in May 2016, is to reach its full potential and if the EU ambitions to decarbonise cities are to be materialised, now is the time to dedicate the necessary financial means and empower local leaders to carry out integrated urban strategies, which will include public transport.
In a recent Position Paper, UITP clearly presented five main recommendations to the European Commission on the elaboration of the next MFF. Among them, UITP encourages EU stakeholders to make public transport and urban transport infrastructure projects more compatible with – and eligible for- new and emerging Financial Instruments.
In the context of this year’s EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, it is important for European leaders to be ambitious about sustainable urban mobility and take concrete actions to ensure that the adequate funding will be made available to cities and public transport authorities.