It is no coincidence that the most liveable cities in the world are always well-equipped with efficient and accessible integrated public transport systems: mobility is the key to thriving cities.
This is the underlying theme of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Congress (SUM’19) taking place in Bilbao, Spain from 20-21 February 2019, where the UITP President, Pere Calvet, sits on the panel of the most important session of the Congress titled ‘Economic benefits of mobility for cities’.
“As the backbone of any sustainable urban mobility system, public transport brings value to cities, individuals and local businesses, and we must work together to ensure the mutual success of all three. “This is what Bilbao has successfully achieved in the last years and that’s why we are delighted to welcome Mayor Aburto to UITP & UCLG Mobility Champions Community today”, said UITP President Pere Calvet.
The UITP Policy Brief, Public transport and business: empowering our cities, elaborates on the multifaceted value of public transport, as well as advocates for a stronger collaboration between all stakeholders from the beginning of public transport investments and urban development projects.
Spurring economic growth
Public transport provides an increased connectivity to businesses, allowing more people to travel smoothly within the urban space available. The math is simple: more people reaching more employment and businesses more easily will result in more job opportunities, sales and tourism. The increased tourism spurs local economic growth and keeps businesses growing and thriving in the area.
In addition to attracting more customers and clientele, businesses will also benefit from reduced labour costs. Public transport increases travel time reliability, reduces traffic congestion and creates access to a wider and more diverse workforce. People will commute further for their ideal job as long as their daily journey is more comfortable and convenient.
Accessing a better quality of life
City leaders should prioritise more public transport not just for the economic benefits, but if they hope to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If public transport projects are aligned with urban development strategies (including housing, education and employment, health, tourism and culture), cities will be in line to achieving SDGs, particularly 9 and 11.2, which call for more inclusive and sustainable cities.
As further support to this claim, the UITP Policy Brief ‘Public transport as an instrument for urban regeneration’ more specifically demonstrates how public transport is a key enabler for urban regeneration. Urban regeneration means closing the gap between the various areas of a city by improving the infrastructure of a deprived space and increasing access to a city’s life opportunities to ensure inclusive societies and support the local economy.
With more public transport, individuals will also benefit from having access to community activities, schools, jobs and other business opportunities. Having access to these facilities increases the quality of life for citizens and makes them happier to support new infrastructure projects.
Public transport, cities and businesses thrive simultaneously. Cities need flourishing businesses, and businesses need flourishing cities to survive. The success of local businesses is as equally dependent on public transport as public transport is on the economic support of these businesses. There is a potential win-win-win situation here.
All stakeholders need to be in discussions from the very beginning of the decision-making process in terms of urban development projects. Collaborating with business actors is vital for funding purposes, but they need to be engaged from the beginning of the process and not just consulted for validation when a projects is planned and just looking for investors. The bottom line is that public transport is certainly a sound investment, but the business community must be given the opportunity to evaluate the potential gains, and should be included in co-creating their successful urban environment.
This Policy Brief is a result of the UITP CEO Forum in Brussels, January 2018, jointly developed with AEMC (European Alliance of Chambers of Commerce), Transport for London (TfL) and Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (BECI).