Opportunities and obstacles in eco-friendly multimodal mobility

The USEmobility project consortium invited prominent experts for an interactive workshop series. In June the project partners met and consulted with more than 70 stakeholders in the five project countries and in the Netherlands, where the survey also took place.

National workshops aimed to shed light on the point of view of relevant stakeholders – decision makers in politics, administrators, transport service providers and civil society organisations – in regard to the necessary framework conditions, opportunities and obstacles regarding the implementation of measures to foster eco-friendly multimodal mobility. Newly developed USEmobility scenarios for 2020 and 2050 provided a basis for discussions. The scenarios combine our research findings with our insights from the interview with decision makers, our compilation of best practice and the survey findings.  


Legal framework is a major obstacle to integrate new forms of transport services in the German transport system

The German workshop started with a ‘warm-up exercise’, which was an interactive game. Each participant could spend a budget of 1.000.000 € on a limited number of measures (six exemplary measures), that were selected from the best-practice list compiled during the USEmobility project. The game results are: For the participants the issue of a customer focus and addressing the customers directly (e.g. with a welcome package for new residents) was the most important measure, followed by influencing the transport policy framework (by regulation of parking conditions and car-free life-campaigns) and quality factors such as dynamic schedule synchronisation. Only after these measures did the electronic payment systems like mobility card become relevant. If new payment systems are implemented, they must be combined with a simple, clear and easy-to-understand price structure (tariff) and transparent payment scheme. In the opinion of the participants the innovative rental systems such as car sharing or call-a-bike that are integrated with the public transport are currently offered quite rarely. Even if today they function rather as an image factor, there is the potential to integrate them into mobility chains with the aim to strengthen the public transport and the regional railways and to make the transportation chains more flexible and more attractive for the users.  

Discussion of the mobility vision 2020 and 2050

In the further course of the German workshop the relevance of measures and the action areas for more multimodality and more public transport was discussed concerning the time frames of 2020 and 2050, based on future exemplary stories in which numerous measures have been incorporated. Other measures considered necessary by the participants were also discussed. The key questions were: How is multimodality/public transport most effectively promoted? What needs to be done and when? Who needs to do what? What are the obstacles in the way of more multimodal mobility? From the perspective of participants, a well functioning mobility chain has the top priority for 2020. Mobility definition should include all modes of transport. Cooperation was seen as central to develop public transport/multimodal chains with a large number of players and a complex legal framework. The highest potential for increased multimodality was seen in the improvement of connections and good integration of all transport modes in a door-to-door mobility chain and in the improvement of access to public transportation. Additionally a positive feeling of passengers (good atmosphere, friendly staff and other feel-good aspects) play a big role. Customer orientation was considered very important. People in different regions should be more involved and the transport services must meet their requirements. A regional, non-interest-led mobility management could perform a bridge between supply/service development and users. Politicians must adhere to their responsibility in the mobility sector more consistently than now. Certain parts of legal framework were seen by the participants as a major obstacle to the integration of new forms of transport services in the entire system. At the same time policy objectives in terms of sustainability (climate, land use, air pollution, and noise) have to be visibly reflected in a prioritisation of public transport/multimodal services. The participants were of the opinion that the time frame of 2050 is too far away to discuss it from today’s point of view, with today’s knowledge and structures. Until 2050 a lot of changes will certainly happen and new structures will be established. The participants included in their 2050 vision more mobility and less traffic (for this aim the political will for change is necessary), tax preferences for public transport and car-free living (car-free districts and car-free life style) that should be promoted (e.g. through monetary incentives). Settlement patterns that avoid traffic should become standard in order for many people to live car-free. An integrated transport funding mechanism should ensure that a user-friendly and adequate public transport service is available. The stakeholders considered it crucial that the transformation of the transport system in terms of sustainability must begin already today if serious results should be expected by 2050. They suggested an approach in three steps: (first, short-term, from 2012) to make transport better and efficient in the sense of public transport/regional rail transport, (second, medium term, through 2020) to shift transport to eco-friendly modes (third, long term, through 2050) to reduce traffic.


Hungarian experts notice the lack of a National Transport Alliance

In Hungary all 52 collected best practices (from USEmobility Best Practice list) were introduced and discussed with the participants. They were asked to choose 20 measures, which could be the most useful and feasible in Hungary in the time frame 2020 and 2050. After a loud, long, enthusiastic debate participants chose 32 relevant measures out of the 52. Then we edited and printed the list of the remaining 32 measures and all experts voted and provided rankings among the measures. Here is the ranking of measures:


Hungarian experts considered these the 10 most important measures for 2020: 1.Transport Association, combined transport passes. 2. New modern rolling stock. 3. Periodic timetable. 4. Cooperation of different transport systems. 5. Multimodal hubs- Interface programs. 6. Synchronisation between bus and train. 8. Parking Management. 9. Track reactivation. 10. Dynamic timetables. Hungarian experts considered these the 10 most important measures for 2050: 1. Regional structure- ABC-concept (where offices are built in the zone A with a train station in the centre of the zone). 2. Multimodal hubs-interface programmes. 3. Cooperation of different transport systems. 4. New modern rolling stock. 5. Park and Ride Stations. 6. Smart Chip Cards. 7. Mobility Card, Different card offers. 8. Parking Management. 9. Track reactivation. 10. Car Sharing.

During the discussion, the 27 participants, senior experts, developers, leaders of companies and NGOs found that the main obstacles in transport development in Hungary to be the lack of a National Transport Alliance which can develop the transport system strategically by taking in consideration all the different aspects, contributors and also regional interests. Due to this fact there is no harmony between regional planning and transport planning. A further important problem is that a real regulatory authority concerning public transport services is missing, and it causes unfair competition. There was a lengthy debate considering whether service providers should focus on pricing, timetable, or comfort to attract new passengers, and if marketing tools and welcome packages could attract new passengers.


Croatian experts call for a more active role of the responsible ministry

Apart from the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience from the participants, the Croatian workshop was also an opportunity for the participants to discuss ways how to improve their transport businesses and transport policy in general. There was vivid discussion on concrete measures to implement multimodal passenger system in the near future. A project of such a system in the area of Varaždin and Međimurje Counties which is already being implemented was also intensively discussed. Many of the participants were calling for a more active role of the Croatian ministry of transportation in creating multimodal passenger transport systems in Croatia. Most of them hold the opinion that without better legislative support the multimodal system cannot be achieved. But the examples from Zagreb, Varaždin, Čakovec and Krapina regions show the first steps towards multimodal systems - which are already being implemented now - thus demonstrating that a lot can be achieved already today.  


Belgium focuses on ticketing system

The participants were very eager to hear about our project results and also eager to discuss  the future potential for multimodality in Belgium. The main discussion item in the workshops was the potential in ticketing systems. All the participants recognised the need for progress to be made in Belgium on that issue and the desire of the users to have modern ticketing systems. A major reason for this concerns the plans of most transport operators in the country to implement mobility chip cards in the next two years following the example of STIB in Brussels. Although this process is ongoing, it became clear that there are still some major obstacles to be solved before an integrated modern ticketing system will be in place.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands learned the lesson from mobility chip card

Participants from all the different target groups had a very lively discussion on our future visions for 2020 and 2050. They gave some very useful insights on the results of our survey for the Netherlands. These insights on the users’ perspectives proved a good basis for assessing the potential of eco-friendly multimodal mobility in the Netherlands. The lessons learned about the implementation of the mobility chip card in the Netherlands took ample discussion time. The difficulties and opportunities that different railways operators provide for the users were also touched upon. All participants, as in all other countries, were very interested in our ex-post approach in the survey. This is a major element that the project consortium will be able to use to disseminate our strategic recommendations to be developed in the coming months.


Provision of information is the key in Austria

Representatives of the main transport companies like ÖBB, ÖBB-Postbus and Wiener Linien, representatives from the ministries of transport and environment and the City of Vienna were inspired by the prepared future scenarios. The participants agreed that information is the main key that leads to using public transport and multimodality. The currently offered public transport services are often much better than assumed but people don’t know about it. The main obstacle to implement already feasible measures such as electronic ticketing are the organizational conflicts between the federal state and provinces and between provinces themselves that lead to a lot of different solutions hampering each other. That makes it difficult to implement improvements, especially for companies like ÖBB with country-wide operations. Therefore the definition of nation-wide minimum-standards or a federal concept is of particular importance. It is also important to clearly define the responsibility and function of the different actors (e.g. transport companies, “Verkehrsverbünde” (Integrated Public Transport System), governments on different levels). There need to be different requirements for public transport in urban and rural areas - especially to stop the negative spiral of dramatically reduced public transport service in rural areas.


The main conclusion of the workshops is the fact that not all the professionals took into consideration the eco-friendly multimodal mobility from a users’ perspective. Their discussions quickly veered off to the hard elements such as infrastructure and funding schemes. Further, the organisational aspect of multimodal transport with regard to policy levels and organisational scale was a hot item amongst our invited participants even though this is far from our project's core theme.