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How UPPER is tackling big mobility challenges with local measures

  • Accessibility
  • Air pollution
  • European Research projects
  • MaaS
  • Tools
  • Urban development
  • Urban mobility

wants to unleash the potential of public transport

How do you prevent cars from driving on the bus lane? What is the best way to create an efficient MaaS package that also encourages active modes? How do you make public transport stops more climate-change resistant?

It is these type of questions that were put on the table during the 3rd General Assembly of the UPPER project, taking place in Rome late January. More than 80 participants from the 41-strong consortium gathered in the Eternal City to exchange on the measures that are being taken in cities to push people out of cars and pull them towards public transport.

The meeting was kindly hosted by Roma Mobilità and Roma Capitale, who also made it possible for the UPPER Team to visit the construction site of the new Metro C station near the iconic Colosseum. This site visit echoed the inspiring words of Rome’s Deputy Mayor for Mobility, Eugenio Patanè, who opened the meeting: “Rome is a city with history that wants to make history”.

UITP is at the helm of UPPER, which alike UITP joins players from the entire sector: operators and authorities, (local) governments, academia and road user organisations.

Implementing 80+ measures

in 10 cities

Kicking off last year, the UPPER project will implement over 80 measures in 10 European cities whereby it looks at advancing public transport in its entirety including encouraging behavioural changes, easier cooperation between PTOs and PTAs, updating SUMP plans, optimising the transport offer, and a focus on new and innovative technologies.

In year 1 of UPPER, cities have started to plan and set up the measures they will take: the GA in Rome provided the perfect opportunity for them to share their approach and learn from each other.

Let’s have a look at some of the measures the cities are implementing and inspire others!

People at the heart of green cities

Redistribution of urban space can make a major contribution towards more liveable, sustainable and climate resilient cities. As an UPPER city, Valencia showed how it will transform one of its main corridors (Blasco Ibáñez Avenue), currently mostly used by cars, to increase accessibility to public transport while adhering to the ‘Mobility as a Right’ concept. For this measure, operator EMT València and the city (Ayuntamiento de València) will work together to implement a BRT infrastructure in part of the avenue while providing more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

Taking the concept of ‘green city’ quite literally, Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr (RNV) Mannheim explained how it will upgrade public transport stops across the city, whereby it will pilot new elements to improve attractivity and functionality (such as digital services),and increase resilience to climate change. To achieve the latter, things like greening and shading to reduce heat in summer and unsealing paved areas to manage heavy rainfall will be tested.

What do the UPPER measures have in common? UITP’s Mircea Steriu explains: 

How Budapest and Lisbon are prioritising public transport

How can we use advanced tools and big data to give way and more speed to public transport?

Lisbon operator Carris shared that in 2022, approximately 52% of its operational disruptions were caused by congestion and irregular parking. To tackle this, the PTO will conduct audits on bus infrastructure and intersections to find areas for improvement. In the end, Carris will provide recommendations to implement public transport prioritisation at bottlenecks, and implement measures such as camera supervision and law enforcement actions to car drivers using the bus lane.

Also taking to the stage in Rome, authority BKK (Centre for Budapest Transport) presented the tools it already uses to prioritise public transport in Budapest, such as dedicated bus lanes in crowded road sections and traffic signal controlled priority. In UPPER, the city will introduce additional interventions in new locations, tailored to traffic and travel patterns, infrastructural specifications, journey times and possible intervention options.

Reducing car ownership with integrated mobility

With Mobility as a Service (MaaS) being considered as an effective, flexible alternative to private car ownership, multiple UPPER cities are making smart use of integrating mobility to reduce car dependency.

One of the hosts of the GA and UPPER city Roma Capitale shared progress on their new application ‘MaaS4Italy’, in which passengers can see travel offers of different mobility service providers. Testing of the new service started in July 2023, and with encouragement of the city’s Mobility Managers and an incentive scheme (passengers got 50% off their trip when testing and reviewing the app) over 1,500 inhabitants took part in the experiment. The next step? Other Italian cities will start testing the app in April 2024, after which nationwide roll-out is expected.

In Oslo, authority Ruter is working together with housing organisations and mobility service operators to offer a package of combined mobility products to residents while on the other hand reducing parking space at housing units. Residents get a discounted Ruter monthly ticket with the option to add other service providers, in exchange for leaving their car behind. This way, landowners have economic incentives to cooperate, while mobility service operators benefit from exposure to Ruter’s customer base.

More cities, more measures

Curious to see all UPPER measures? On the project website you can find more innovative projects: from refining financial incentives for public transport and P&Rs in the city of Leuven, to a new check-in/be-out system and digital fare billing in Hannover.

Watch here the 3rd project General Assembly wrap-up video!

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