In most cases, cities and regions are still designed for car transport. This has created a situation that is not sustainable: severe congestion, urban sprawl, poor air quality, noise and high levels of carbon dioxide emissions. Access to quality public transport systems is a good way to reduce these negative externalities. The European Commission encourages improved access to public transport as it aims at bringing mobility right to where, when and how it is needed in the cities and the regions and offers an alternative to private transport.
The absence of access to public transport systems can cause problems and inconveniences for users and authorities, such as a lack of services, information and travel times. According to Eurostat, 20.4% of people in the EU report ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of difficulty of access to good public transport. This means that one in five of EU citizens have a high lack of access to basic urban services, like jobs, schools and so on. On the flip side, a high level of accessibility to public transport is an important pillar for solving the challenges individuals and cities face, including delivery of the EU Urban Agenda and wider international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Improving the accessibility to public transport, as measured by the supply and ease to accessing public transport, is particularly important for gauging progress towards the EU Urban Agenda and SDGs. The Goals include a target to enhance access to urban and regional (multi-modal) public transport systems2, but in many cases, cities and Member States often lack the necessary data and information on how accessible their public transport systems are. Without this information, the impact of investment decisions and policies cannot be tracked. This is particularly true for EU Cohesion Policy which is a substantial source of investments in clean urban transport. A key action under the Urban Agenda should be to better understand how accessible public transport systems are in cities and regions as well as nationally and across Europe. This is important for the latter as both the EU and Member States have committed to report progress against the SDG target on public transport which the EU Urban Agenda aims to support.
A new method of analysing access to public transport has been developed by the European Commission, taking into account the extent of the urban centre, the distribution of population and the exact location of public transport stops and the frequency of departures.3 It is an important step forward because it allows cities and regions to measure in a comparable way which can help identify the impact of different best practice strategies to improve public transport which in turn can improve the decision making at all levels. It can also help to identify the impacts of higher public transport frequencies, extension of lines, new lines and networks etc. Therefore, by complementing the European Commission’s methodology with public transport supply data, it can provide city and national governments with an enhanced understanding of their public transport access and offer. Furthermore, by scaling up the use of the methodology across European cities, the impact of EU investment decisions linked to Cohesion Policy can also be better tracked alongside enhanced SDG reporting.
- Raise awareness of the SDGs, EU Urban Agenda and the important links to enhancing access to public transport. This will help to promote the need/benefits and how to measure access to public transport using the Commission’s methodology. This can be done through events and guidance to be distributed through relevant networks (e.g. EUROCITIES, CEMR, UITP, etc).
- Increase the number of cities analysing access to public transport.
- Develop a tool to facilitate the monitoring of multi-modal public transport service provision in cities to further complement the European Commission’s methodology.
- Develop recommendations on how local and regional level data can be aggregated up to the national level for SDG reporting.
- Introduction to the Draft Action Plan of the Partnership on Urban Mobility
- Draft Action 1
- Draft Action 2
- Draft Action 3
- Draft Action 4
- Draft Action 5
- Draft Action 7
- Draft Action 8
- Draft Action 9
- Background document
- Urban Mobility full Draft Action Plan
- About the Public Feedback
2 Public transport is defined as a shared passenger transport service that is available to the general public. It includes buses, trolleys, trams, trains, subways, and ferries that are shared by strangers without prior arrangement. See: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/metadata