Rail-bound urban transport including light rail, metros and commuter trains are the most environmentally-friendly, safest, and most reliable rapid transoprt mode and thus provide the best solution to urban mobility challenges
European cities need to address three main challenges today in terms of urban mobility:
- Protecting human beings from the risks inherent from mobility, i.e. avoiding accidents during transport and violence on the vehicles and in the stations;
- Replying to the population’s increased mobility demands and their consequences, that is, for instance, reducing congestion, providing a reliable and rapid public transport, optimising the capacity of existing transport infrastructures by improving intermodality and gaining efficiency in each domain by suitable use of ITS technologies;
- Protecting the environment, i.e. reducing CO2 emissions, air pollution and noise in urban areas.
UNIFE believes that in order to respond to these challenges, it is necessary to promote a modal shift to public transport. Rail-bound urban transport (light rail, metros and commuter trains) – as it is the most environmentally-friendly, safest and most reliable and rapid transport mode – provides the best solution to urban mobility challenges.
Since early 2007, the EU started a reflection process to become active in urban mobility issues. In September 2007, the Commission published a Green Paper on Urban Mobility, followed in September 2009 by an Action Plan on Urban Mobility.
In its 2011 Transport White Paper called 'Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area', the European Commission set ambitious targets with the aim of “halving the use of ‘conventionally-fuelled’ cars in urban transport by 2030 and phasing them out in cities by 2050”. The Commission explains in the same White Paper: “in the urban context, a mixed strategy involving land-use planning, pricing schemes, efficient public transport services and infrastructure for non-motorised modes and charging/refuelling of clean vehicles is needed to reduce congestion and emissions”.
With the Urban Mobility Package adopted in December 2013, the Commission aims at reinforcing its supporting measures in the area of urban transport.
UNIFE welcomes the adoption of this Urban Mobility Package and encourages the European Institutions, the Member States, the Regions and the Cities to continue their efforts in order to make transport more sustainable in the European cities and for the EU to meet its CO2 emission reduction targets of 20% by 2020. To do so, UNIFE considers that, besides the soft measures proposed in the Commission’s Urban Mobility Package, it is necessary to put in place always more ambitious policies that promote modal shift to public transport and develop urban rail-bound transport networks.
UNIFE responded to a Public Consultation launched by the European Commission in July 2014 on “The urban dimension of EU policies – key features of an EU Urban Agenda”. The Association insisted once again on the need for the Commission to address in its future “EU urban Agenda” key issues such as sustainable mobility, congestion and connections between different transport modes in urban areas. UNIFE also called on the Commission to identify sustainable urban transport as a clear priority of the urban Agenda.
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