In 2016, Region Marche (Italy) reached out to Region Andalusia (Spain), Blekinge Region (Sweden), City of Miskolc (Hungary) and the North-West regional development agency (Romania) to work together on urban mobility. 

These institutions, each in charge of mobility policy, were looking for solutions that had already proved successful and transferable to their territories, despite the different local contexts. This is how the TRAM project was born (Towards new Regional Action plans for sustainable urban Mobility). Having now completed their exchange, the project has identified some easily transferable practices.

To start, TRAM set out a framework for exchanging and evaluating experiences, with the partner regions exchanging good practices and organising international thematic workshops, study visits, and peer-reviews engaging local stakeholders to give input to the final action plans. Each step has been supported by the International Team of Regional Experts (ITRE panel), based on a common methodological framework.

Partners performed a gap analysis involving local stakeholders to find the key issues that needed to be tackled, and then mapped promising good practices to see where identified experience could plug the gaps. The 'best' identified practices have been transposed to each Regional Action Plan, again working through a common scheme.

E-ticketing

E-ticketing can help to drastically reduce the complexity of transport, with common tariffs and cross-modal compatibility. As well as making things easier for travellers, e-ticketing systems can also deliver valuable data for public authorities – informing them about consumer behaviour and identifying the public transport lines of heaviest use.

  • Marche intends to develop a multi-modal e-ticketing system. Learning from the Andalusia travel card, the Marche system will include standardised communications technologies to be compatible with the widest number of devices possible, whilst also being modular so that other public institutions might make use of the system in future. Marche will ensure that its e-ticketing system will provide data to public authorities on route usage, to inform mobility planning.

Reducing congestion and improving pedestrian access 

Many European city centres have been designed for cars, and increasingly regions are recognising a need to make city streets friendlier to residents and citizens, to encourage active transport and better integrate public transport options. 

  • The city of Bistrița (Romania), will implement the 'Green Line' project, inspired by the Green Arrow practice from Miskolc (Hungary). The Green Line will see a busy and congested road corridor of 10.3 kilometres be reconfigured to include dedicated lanes for electric buses and the widening of pavements and cycling lanes to encourage greater use of public transport and active transport modes.
  • The City of Seville in Andalusia has already successfully pedestrianised parts of its city centre and implemented new cycle routes but has noticed a corresponding rise in the use of personal mobility vehicles (PMVs), such as electric scooters. These vehicles, which they were not initially planned for, put pedestrians, cyclists and the PMV users themselves at risk, and discourage active transport. Andalusia intends to study the impact of personal mobility vehicles and determine if intervention is required. Andalusia will issue guidelines that can be used by other regions and municipalities to improve safety and regulate PMV use.

Shift from cars to active modes

Several actions are possible to move away from the car dominance in urban environment, related to infrastructure development, behaviour change and information provision.

  • Miskolc intends to develop a new cycle network and gamification platform to encourage active transport, learning from the Gamification platform of Seville. Miskolc has been awarded pilot action funding by Interreg Europe in order to test whether the app can be adapted to the region and to determine social acceptance. The platform should encourage more active transport, and also report back to the Municipality on which routes have been used, in order to better plan mobility interventions, such as pedestrianised areas and cycle paths. It is intended that the app will also offer a route planner and information on connecting with public transport options.
  • The North-West Development Region of Romania intends to make major investments under their Regional Operational Programme to develop cycling networks for the region’s main cities. At present, each municipality has separately developed cycling routes, which are not joined up. Drawing from the experiences of Bicipolitana Pesaro in Marche, the region will develop a new common map for the cycling network, using a metro-style map and will develop a common style for signposts to be used throughout the region. Like Miskolc, NW Romania will also develop a gamification platform, and a pilot action has been approved by the Interreg Europe programme. 

Demand-responsive transport (DRT) 

DRT has traditionally been used for marginalised communities with limited mobility, such as the elderly. Increasingly, DRT is seen also as a way of connecting rural areas with developed centres and improving the cost efficiency of public transport provision. 

  • Blekinge’s action plan includes an expected test action for a DRT system, taking inspiration from Twist DRT from Marche and the Miskolc Zoo Bus. DRT will be put in place in the village of Torhamn, where current demand for buses is low, meaning that at present the frequency of service is also low. The DRT system should be more responsive and will help to strengthen the economic and social links between the village and more developed areas.

Integrated planning and governance

Improving urban transport requires the involvement of many different actors and stakeholders, to ensure that all are pulling in the same direction and contributing to regional goals.

  • As part of the TRAM project, the Regional Development Agency of North-West Romania established a local stakeholder group to involve them in the elaboration of the region’s action plan. Recognising the long-term value for contributing to strategy development, the group will transform into the Regional Urban Mobility Group, to give input to drafting future operational programmes and in the drafting of a new Regional Strategy for Urban Mobility and Smart Cities. This strategy will set out a common vision for the cities in the region and introduce a sound governance structure that embraces city and county councils, as well as the stakeholder group, to co-ordinate their activities.

The TRAM partners will implement their action plans until the end of March 2021, and the results will be presented already in the final dissemination Conference in Miskolc scheduled for September 2020. You can follow their updates at the project website, and explore the five action plans from Andalusia, Blekinge, Marche, Miskolc and North-West Romania.

Are you interested in learning more about this topic? Would you like to know more about the people behind these good practices? Check out our latest policy brief on ‘Improving the convenience of public transport, or end a request through our policy helpdesk! We can then foresee e.g. an online discussion or provide you with other valuable resources! 

Image credit: Photo by Carlos Pernalete Tua from Pexels