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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Mobility and intermodality projects > Efficient and cleaner urban transport
Graphic element Efficient and cleaner urban transport

Congestion problems in European cities are today of such magnitude that average speed during peak hours can be lower than in the days of the horse-drawn carriage. Results from EC-funded research on ensuring urban mobility while minimising traffic and environmental impacts are now available on the European Commission's web site.

Effective urban transport systems are essential to economic activity and quality of life. They can reduce social exclusion, support local commerce and contribute to improved air quality.

However, the urban transport sector is beset with problems, ranging from congestion, pollution and land use issues to the financing of public transport systems. Many European cities have seen vehicle speeds decline by 10% over the last 20 years, contributing to the movement of people and services away from the city centre.

The European Community (EC) has committed itself to funding research projects targeted at improving urban transport. Recent findings of this research are provided on the Commission's web site:

Urban transport in a sustainable perspective

The overall objective of EC-funded research on urban transport is to demonstrate effective policy measures and develop tools that support their successful introduction.

A total of 37 projects and concerted actions have been commissioned within urban transport research, with a total EC contribution of 27 million Euro.

Efficiency and quality of life

A key concern is urban air quality, because many European cities regularly experience days when levels of emission pollutants exceed air quality standards. Some of the research projects look at ways of changing people's attitudes and transport choices, encouraging them to shift from cars to public transport or non-motorised transport.

One of the major challenges is to improve the quality of public transport services and make them attractive alternatives to transportation by car. Some of the projects have developed the concepts of mobility management, provided methods for benchmarking and made recommendations to local authorities and operators.

  Traffic management

The increasing traffic congestion in cities has increased interest in strategies to reduce travel demand. The results of traffic management research point to the importance of applying a range of measures, rather than individual measures.

Many of the research projects have targeted the exchange of information and dissemination of best practice. This should help to develop a consensus on (cost-) effective policies and their impacts.

The European Community has also financed projects looking at "hardware" solutions, ranging from road pricing technologies to cleaner vehicle technologies and new transport concepts such as car sharing. They have led to the identification of policy changes and practical guidelines that will help to overcome barriers to introduction.

  Future research on Urban Transport

Most of the urban transport research initiatives under the 4th Framework Programme will be further developed under the 5th Framework Programme. The 5th Framework Programme emphasises the development of transport systems which are economic, safe, and beneficial to the environment and to quality of life. The European Commission expects to contribute a total of 370 million Euro to a Key Action on Sustainable Mobility and Intermodality, including a number of projects in the urban transport sector.


  Further Information and Notes to Editors


The transport research programme forms part of the Fourth Framework Programme, which set out the activities to be launched by the European Community in the field of Research and Technological Development (RTD) between 1994 and 1998.

The transport programme focused on helping to achieve the objectives of the Community's Common Transport Policy (CTP), namely efficient and cost-effective transport networks for goods and passengers while minimising both energy consumption and the social and environmental impacts of transport. The Commission has contributed ECU 270 million Euro to the programme, with further funding (often 50%) coming from project partners and their sponsors.

The transport programme has financed around 280 projects within seven main areas of research: strategic research; rail transport; air transport; waterborne transport; road transport; urban transport; and integrated transport chains. The programme was set up by the former DGVII (Transport), and is now managed by the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport. Altogether 37 projects and concerted actions were commissioned on urban transport research, with a total EU contribution of 27 million Euro.

Under the Fifth Framework Programme, which started up in 1999, transport policy research is based around themes rather than transport modes. The work is covered by the Key Action "Sustainable Mobility and Intermodality", and the European Commission expects to contribute 370 million Euro.

Other transport-related RTD is carried out elsewhere in the Fifth Framework programme - covering such topics as aeronautics, urban development, and new vehicle and information technologies.

The transport programme can only achieve its objectives if project results are effectively disseminated to people who can use them - notably policy-makers, planners, industry and the research community.

Therefore the Commission has funded a project specifically aimed at disseminating information on the transport programme as a whole, supplementing the more limited efforts of each project. The aim is to use cost-effective means of communication to specific audiences in the EU and in Central and Eastern Europe.

The project (called EXTRA, EXploitation of TRAnsport research) has developed an Internet site (, opened an Information Bureau and provides complementary activities (newsletters, events) to raise awareness of the programme.

The Information Bureau can be contacted by telephone:
+ 44 (0) 1235 46 42 46,
by fax: + 44 (0) 1235 43 65 51
or by e-mail to:

It provides printed copies of information on the web site, as well as helping with more general enquiries on transport research. A handy web site user guide is provided on request.

Users are encouraged to register with the Bureau to receive monthly e-mail bulletins announcing the latest information on the web.

The next few months should see a large increase in the volume of results. Analyses will be provided on the contribution of research in developing key policy areas.

See also
Website reveals research results on sustainable mobility
Urban transport in a sustainable perspective
Efficiency and quality of life
Traffic management
Future research on Urban Transport
Further Information and Notes to Editors

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