Making movement on mobility: public transport advancements in Central Eastern Europe and Israel

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You may recall last month we started to bring you dedicated news on our different activities in the various parts of the world UITP reaches. As an international association, we care about our activities around the world.

In order to best serve our 1500 members in 96 countries, UITP has 16 offices based in every corner of the globe, dedicated to advancing mobility wherever we go. It’s always important to highlight our global reach and bring you news on the latest public transport developments from each part of the world UITP reaches.

Beginning our news tour of the world last month, we started with Eurasia, where we brought you updates on the almost 50 members who call UITP home, and all of their exciting activities.

This month, we’re bringing you news on Central Eastern Europe and Israel. As you will know, this part of the world is alive with the air of change as the world gathers for COP24.

UITP is greatly involved in advocating for public transport to play a vital role in reducing emissions and fighting climate change.

We have two partnerships for COP24 this year, and our work with the UNFCCC makes us one of only two public transport associations to partner in this way.

As the world’s leading figures gather to work on innovative ideas to make a difference in the ongoing fight against climate change, one of UITP’s first activities in Katowice will be to present our report with the World Bank on electric mobility and development. (Katowice, 4 December).

Public transport plays a pivotal part in climate action and our members in the CEE region are working hard to advance our sector.

So what exactly is happening on the ground in Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, the Czech Republic and Israel as COP24 begins?

In the recently ongoing 2014-2020 EU Multiannual Financial Framework – and fuelled by its Structural Funds and a plethora of innovative financial instruments – urban mobility in Central and Eastern Europe is experiencing a fast-forward modernisation of many of its assets and services.

Both transport infrastructures, as well as rolling stock and vehicle fleets, are being heavily invested in, with approximately €12.2 billion dedicated from the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund for urban transport projects across the CEE Member States between 2014 and 2020.

As each city deals with mobility according to their respective circumstances, some trends can be observed at the regional level.

The key element of smart mobility is the bid for an improved mobility for all citizens within a liveable city.

Many local transport authorities in Central Eastern Europe are in need of replacing ageing bus fleets. The purpose is to meet current environmental standards, increase efficiency and passenger comfort and reduce transport related emissions.

In many CEE cities both the pressure to strongly improve air quality in cities, as well as to contribute to achieving decarbonisation objectives are the main drivers of the currently ongoing transition process towards clean urban and local mobility.

In Poland, the European Commission has accepted to finance the acquisition of 130 electric buses for the local transport system in Warsaw. The new buses will help reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality. It will provide Warsaw’s citizens with a clean, fast and comfortable means of transport. All buses should be in service at the beginning of 2021.

Great news!

As you will know, UITP has great involvement with the deployment of electric buses and is a hub of information on the growth of the e-bus.

It’s not just the bus sector making advances on the streets of Warsaw, the tram network has been currently under acquisition of a total of 213 new trams with an estimated value of €538 million.

The contract comprises an order for 123 vehicles with a single extension option for 90 more. The delivery of the first tram is planned for the second quarter of 2019 and the main order will need to be completed by April 2021.

Back to electric buses once again, with Bulgaria deploying 15 electric buses to the streets of Sofia in 2019 to replace diesel buses and reduce overall emissions. This is the first phase of the modernisation of Sofia’s bus fleet through the acquisition of low-floor electric buses with fast-charging technology and six charging stations. The project will be co-financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Is there more news happening in Sofia, other than on their buses? Yes! The European Union has also significantly invested in Sofia’s metro’s lines 1, 2 and 3. Overall, the EU invested €1 billion in Sofia’s urban transport since 2007.

In Slovakia, the Bratislava public transport operator (DPB) was awarded funds from the Integrated Regional Operational Programme (IROP) to purchase 18 electric buses.

“Electric buses are another step toward a more ecological and greener Bratislava. The buses will also make public transport a more attractive and comfortable alternative to cars”, said Ivo Nesrovnal, Mayor of Bratislava.

Now to Romania, where last year, Bucharest General Council approved the long-anticipated Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan 2016-2030, a strategic document that proposes a coherent development vision in Bucharest-Ilfov region.

The objective of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan is to create an efficient, integrated, sustainable and safe transport system that would promote economic, social and territorial development and to ensure an improved life quality. The project provides the introduction of dedicated lanes for public transport over a distance of 25km. The authorities also plan to acquire 300 trams, 100 trolleybuses and 500 buses, of which 300 electric buses. The tram infrastructure will also be extended by 41km and some 1,800 stations will be refurbished.

Big developments are coming to the Romanian capital!

The investment priorities in Prague include the preparation of the construction of the new metro D line, the modernisation of the safety technologies in the metro, the delivery of trams from Škoda Transportation, the reconstruction of already existing tram lines, intensive preparation for the new tram lines and for the construction of new barrier-free access to the metro. 

To sum up, there will be approximately 305 ongoing and 176 newly launched investment projects in the Czech Republic capital.

And last but not least, we have a big commitment and big ambition in Israel, where Israel Railways presented have an ambitious strategy to double the size of the national rail network by 2040 with high-speed trains connecting key centres. Under the plan, the network is projected to grow from 1232km to 2572km between 2020 and 2040.

The number of stations would increase from 68 to 120, while the number of trainsets would more than triple from 139 to 511. The heart of the plan is increasing the railway’s share of public transport from 3% to 8% in 2040. Passenger numbers are forecast to grow from 59.5 million in 2017 to 81.2 million in 2020 and 306 million in 2040. Congratulations to the team in Israel for setting big targets on moving their urban citizens around!

What a round-up from Central Eastern Europe and Israel!

Join us in early January for news from Australia and New Zealand as we see what’s happening with public transport and urban mobility with our members in ANZ.

Don't forget to follow us live on the ground at COP24 this week in Katowice from our @UITPpress account and our regular LinkedIn blogs-- check out our first blog here!

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