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TRA 2008 set to tackle urban mobility challenges

Among the issues to be addressed at TRA 2008 is improving urban transport. Organisers will be highlighting new ideas and initiatives being implemented in the Ljubljana city environment, but also around Europe under the EU Research Framework Programme.

Rome metro © Peter Gutierrez
TRA 2008 for people on the move
© Peter Gutierrez

Efficient transport that enables the free movement of people and goods is crucial to economic prosperity and quality of life. But today, road congestion in the EU, especially in cities, is steadily increasing and the problem is aggravated by the fact that roads are being used to the exclusion of other transport modes such as railways and inland waterways.

For the European Commission, research is a key factor for addressing three interrelated issues:

  • Modal shift and intermodality – European road transport networks and urban road environments are severely congested, resulting in increased environmental pollution, delays and associated costs. A shift is therefore required towards more sustainable transport modes, including rail, short-sea shipping and inland waterway transport.
  • Urban transport – Public and private transport presents a number of challenges in the urban environment, including the need for cleaner, quieter, and more effective transport solutions, better cohesion and response to rapid demographic changes. These challenges need to be addressed both at EU and regional levels, with the engagement and support of public authorities, municipalities and representatives of civil society.
  • Connectivity and interoperability – The effective integration of different regional and national networks throughout the logistic transport supply chain is critical for an efficient European transport system.

Mobility facts and figures

  • European mobility, defined as kilometres travelled per day, is now three times higher than 20 years ago;
  • Every year, transport congestion costs Europe 2% of its GDP. That is €200 billion per year or €440 per year per person;
  • Cars account for 75% of urban kilometres travelled;
  • 80% of the EU-25 population lives in cities.

Being specific

Both public and private transport represent specific challenges in the urban environment, including the need for cleaner, quieter, and more effective transport solutions, better cohesion and response to rapid demographic changes. These issues need to be addressed both at EU and regional levels, with the engagement and support of public authorities, municipalities and representatives of civil society.

Under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the European Union is committed to ensuring sustainable and accessible urban mobility for all citizens, including the disabled and disadvantaged. This includes support for research on:

  • Innovative organisation schemes
  • Clean and safe vehicles and other non-polluting means of transport
  • New high quality public transportation modes
  • Rationalisation of private transport
  • Communication infrastructure
  • Integrated town planning and transport, including their relationship with growth and employment.

The aim is to create a more even distribution of movement, benefiting people in urban areas, improving energy efficiency and decreasing pollution; increased flexibility and the introduction of new information systems will reduce travel times and provide for a higher standard of transport services, while lower costs will mean significantly lower fees for transport customers.

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