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Mobility

Mobility - 06.12.2005

Innovative concepts in urban transport 'not there yet" (NICHES workshop)
"The deployment of innovative concepts in the field of urban transport has still a long way to go. It does not only imply introducing something new, but also giving up something old". This captures the core of the debates at the NICHES (New and Innovative Concepts for Helping European Transport Sustainability) mid-term validation workshop, held on 1 and 2 December 2005, in Stockholm.

Over 50 participants attended the workshop, whose aim was to present the intermediate findings of the project's transferability study and to have these results validated by the workshop participants.
Opportunities and hurdles

Four areas had been selected to present innovative concepts, their success factors and barriers:
 
New seamless mobility services offering nearly door-to-door services with almost no perceivable interchanges. Services like urban lift sharing have gained in efficiency due to the internet boom. Public bikes and call-a-bus services can fill the mobility gaps left by traditional public transport services. These concepts are mature and transferable solutions delivering a common social good. Still, they are not politically perceived as public transport and therefore do not qualify for public funding. This lack of public funding and the often rigid legal framework form important barriers.

Innovative approaches in city logistics help to reduce congestion, noise and pollution. Multi-use lines, which can be adapted to the specific needs of day or night deliveries can improve the delivery of goods. These concepts are transferable, depending on the space and financial resources available. Night delivery depends on the acceptance of the level of noise and has an impact on the working hours of the shop and delivery staff.
 
New non-polluting and energy efficient vehicles are already on the market, but their purchase depends on the availability of respective filling stations. Public bodies therefore can act as role model and tender for clean vehicles. Their engines can use biogas, produced at the local sewage plant or ethanol or - if necessary - even ordinary petrol. Joint procurement efforts help to reduce the price. The positive result is that the use of renewable energies reduces the air pollution and the dependence on primary energy resources.
 
Innovative demand management strategies aim at improving mobility by changing the behavior of citizens and business. This can be reached by introducing local taxes like the congestion charge. For such initiatives to work, public transport services should be expanded to give citizens a valuable alternative for their cars. These kinds of actions can be accompanied by city wide marketing campaigns to raise awareness for mobility issues. The transferability of these initiatives will depend on the legal framework and the public and private support, both in terms of awareness and financing.

How to overcome barriers for urban transport innovation

The presentations were followed by a roundtable where the importance of political leadership and public support for the implementation of innovative concepts was discussed. The participants concluded that, apart from factors inherent to the concepts like their self-sustainability and their cost - benefit performance, the NICHES concepts have no technological barriers. The main challenge is to gain political consent for them and to improve inter-institutional cooperation.
 
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