International Bus Conference speakers share their thoughts: Wolfgang Backhaus of Rupprecht Consult and trolley:motion

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This year, UITP will once again join forces with our collaborators at Busworld to host the International Bus Conference 2019 (Brussels, 21-23 October) – the world’s biggest event dedicated to the bus.

There are many interesting and important developments happening within the bus sector and to place a much-welcomed spotlight on the industry, UITP began our 'Story of the Bus' journey this summer, marking 100 days until the sector embarks in Brussels.

Setting off from UITP in July, we have informed and updated the sector on the latest innovations and advancements with the release of five brand new bus publications.

Now, as we make the final part of our journey towards our Conference, we’re stopping off at the side of the road to meet and greet a selection of our international speakers and panellists…

We started getting to know our speakers with Renée Amilcar, Executive Director of Bus for Societe De Transport De Montreal and Chair of the UITP Bus Division, a Vice President of UITP and member of UITP’s Executive Board…

Then we met Johan Holstein, Development Executive for Arriva, London, UK, Antonio Manuel Domingues Pires, COO/CTO of Carris, Lisbon, Portugal and then Amos Haggiag, CEO and co-founder of Optibus in Israel and then we introduced to you Oleksandra Sladkova, Head of Urbanistics Department, at the Institute of Spatial Development, Lviv, Ukraine, Mohamed Abdulla Al Ali, Director of Buses Department at Road Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai and then Büşra Buran, Head of Strategy Development at IETT, Turkey.

Up next, is Wolfgang Backhaus from Consultant at Rupprecht Consult and President of trolley:motion, Germany.

Wolfgang, your role at Rupprecht sees you leading the Collective and Intelligent Mobility Team, supporting cities and regions in integrating technologies into their sustainable urban mobility strategies. Can you tell our readers more about your work?

Our Collective and Intelligent Mobility team supports cities and regions in integrating innovative and disruptive technologies into their sustainable urban mobility visions and strategies. We act as change agents and try to support the appropriate incorporation of new trends – for example electro-mobility, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) or cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM) – into urban mobility planning processes, always looking for people-focused low-carbon solutions. Thus, we support capacity building for changing organisational settings and by developing actors’ competencies to manage the challenges of emerging technologies in transport and mobility.

Seeing the big picture, I think that we can only reach the aim of the Paris Climate Agreement, if we act now and don’t lose more time. Every gram of saved C02 emissions count!

You are well connected to UITP through your involvement in several of our European research projects, such as ELIPTIC and EBSF_2. How important is to you to continue this collaboration by participating in our events, such as the International Bus Conference?   

Research and Development is just one side of the coin. The exchange with experienced people, especially early adopters, is also very important in order to incorporate the lessons learned into our work. The International Bus Conference brings the professional world together and enables this exchange. In combination with the Busworld exhibition you can also find out about the latest technology developments and, for example, look at the latest bus models.

This year you were elected as President of trolley:motion. Congratulations on this achievement. In this role you will work with the association to support modern zero emission bus systems. What has the position of President been like for you so far?

It was a very busy time since the appointment, as due to new developments, in particular through the in-motion-charging concept (i.e. equipped with small batteries, trolleybuses can operate in sections without catenaries), the trolleybus is currently receiving greater attention worldwide. We are very pleased about this attention, but we also hope for implementation in the sense of expanding existing systems, and also the implementation of new trolleybus systems. Nevertheless, the trolleybus is often still regarded as old-fashioned, as it has been in operation for decades. But this proven and reliable technology now integrates new innovations and is actually a sustainable path "back to the future"!

Research and Development is just one side of the coin. The exchange with experienced people, especially early adopters, is also very important in order to incorporate the lessons learned into our work. The International Bus Conference brings the professional world together and enables this exchange...

You are due to Chair the Parallel Session "Electric growth: Trolleybus in-motion charging” during the Conference. UITP recently launched our latest Knowledge Brief on the ‘Innovative Trolleybus’. What are your thoughts on the latest development of the trolleybus?

Seeing the big picture, I think that we can only reach the aim of the Paris Climate Agreement, if we act now and don’t lose more time. Every gram of saved C02 emissions count! The trolleybus is ready to make its contribution. In addition to the fact that we can rely on an already proven technology , the trolleybus has also numerous advantages to build zero-emission bus systems, like the use of smaller batteries in in-motion-charging concepts, direct integration of renewable energy sources into the trolley grid or shared infrastructure, for example with substations of tram systems or provision of charging options to other electric vehicles from the trolley infrastructure. Combined with intelligent energy management systems, trolley systems can become a climate super hero!

And finally, during our global events we have the pleasure to share ideas, network with peers and hear from many important people offering innovative ideas. What do you think is the next big step in urban mobility?

Cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM) will become reality! However, I see the capability of public transport authorities and operators to develop sustainable transport systems in an increasingly dynamic and complex as a key competence to realise our vision of liveable cities ad regions. We call this key competence “Dynaxibility”! Thus, from my view, the next big step is more related to capacity building, i.e. the right competencies and skills as well as methodologies, for example to assess the impacts of disruptive innovations for the mobility systems, to develop regulatory frameworks ensuring the greatest possible positive impact of innovative mobility solutions. We work for example on guidelines for “AV-ready authorities” to prepare authorities how to integrate already today self-driving cars into their mobility planning processes. Technology is only the enabler, I think regulatory frameworks which enable integration of innovations into sustainable urban mobility planning (SUMP) - based on a strong public transport as a backbone - will be the success factor for the development of sustainable mobility systems in the future. Authorities and planners need to be ready for this and work on their Dynaxibility to be able to build now proactively their future mobility systems.

Thank you to Wolfgang for his time and wise words!

And a big thank you to all of our wonderful Speakers! Look back on our full series of Speaker Q&As below...

YOU CAN STILL REGISTER FOR THE INTERNATIONAL BUS CONFERENCE!

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