Transport bodies to EU: Put public transport at heart of new mobility plans

23 September 2021

The European Union must ensure that accessible public transport is at the centre of future urban mobility plans, a consortium of 13 transport organisations, including Eurocities, said today.

In a joint statement, the group of organisations led by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) has called on the European Commission to adopt an urban mobility framework that emphasizes three key points: a greater place for Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, greater funding opportunities and integrating multiple modes of transport as part of the EU Commission’s priorities for urban mobility in the coming years.

The statement stresses that the EU Commission must give national and local governments the tools to ensure that public transport is accessible, attractive and affordable, and that walking and cycling are central to urban mobility.

This can be achieved by reallocating road space from private motor vehicles, monitoring public transport budget in member states based on delivery of effective public transport, or harnessing data to make “multi-modality” the obvious option.

Improving citizens’ quality of life

Thomas Avanzata, Spokesperson of the European Union Committee at UITP, said: “The message we send to the European Commission today is clear: promoting public transport and active mobility is the only way to achieve the EU climate targets and improve the quality of life in cities. While providing affordable and accessible mobility to all, these sustainable modes also help tackle environmental challenges, boost the economy, and improve EU citizens’ health and wellbeing.”

The statement comes as new reports from international bodies reiterate stark warnings about the climate crisis and a day after the publication of new WHO guidelines emphasising the need to reduce transport emissions to preserve citizens’ health.

With more than 70% of Europeans living in cities, and cities accounting for 75% of emissions worldwide, cities play a central role in addressing climate change by convincing citizens to adapt their travel behaviours. It is crucial that the EU empowers city governments to tackle the climate crisis at the local level, said Thomas Lymes, Mobility Policy Advisor at Eurocities.

He added: “Beyond cleaner cars, the bigger potential for emission reduction lies in offering more sustainable transport alternatives. Cities’ efforts in supporting the modal shift prove that this logic is already well-understood by local authorities. The EU can capitalise on already-existing transport solutions in cities, where public transport is central. Similarly, we expect the European Commission to put public transport at the heart of its next Urban Mobility Framework.”

Recovery needed

What’s more, efforts to ensure a transition to sustainable mobility have been hampered by a fall in usage of public transport following the Coronavirus pandemic. At some points of the crisis, the city of Madrid noted that public transport use fell by up to 90%.

The signatories of the statement have therefore called for greater investment and a re-assessment of revenue models to ensure that public transport is financially sustainable in the long-term.

The statement’s release falls on the last day of a public consultation for the new Urban Mobility Initiative (UMI), which will define the Commission’s priorities for urban mobility in the coming years.

The UMI will build on previous legislation that aims to make mobility more sustainable and help achieve the EU’s climate obligations, such as the 2013 Urban Mobility Package.

It also coincides with the end of another successful European Mobility Week, where thousands of cities and towns across Europe celebrated alternative mobility options under the theme of “safe and healthy with sustainable mobility.”

Aside from UITP and Eurocities, the statement was co-signed by The European Passenger Transport Operators (EPTO), the Network of European Cities and Regions for Transport Innovation (POLIS), Walk 21, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), the European Metropolitan Transport Authorities (EMTA), the European Disability Forum (EDF), the European Passengers Federation (EPF), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), the Community of European Railways (CER) and SGI Europe.

You can read the full statement here.