EU local authorities are making transport systems more efficient, promoting the use of low-emission energy for transport and paving the way for zero-emission mobility. But, according to the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), they need an improved legal framework and stronger financial support to replace polluting public transport fleets. These concerns were shared by the EU's Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, who jointly with local leaders launched an EU-wide initiative to accelerate the deployment of zero-emissions buses across Europe.
Clean buses in Europe currently account for 10-12% of the entire public transport fleet (around 20,000 out of 200,000 public buses). To speed up their deployment, the CoR joined forces with the European Commission to increase the participation of regions and cities in the Clean Bus Deployment Initiative, which brings together local authorities, manufacturers and transport operators to roll-out clean mobility principles on the ground. During its plenary session in Brussels, local representatives signed a declaration
committing them to contribute to increasing the number of clean buses by at least 2000 by the end of 2019 and increase the share of clean buses in bus fleets to 25% by 2025. Such an upgrade alone would trigger investment for over 1 billion Euros.
During the launch, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, the CoRs' President-elect, said, " This initiative shows that delivering low-emission transport, greening our economies and protecting our environment starts in our regions and cities. It is another step towards ending the unacceptable levels of air pollution damaging our health and lowering our carbon emissions showing that the EU is upholding our global climate promises set out in Paris ".
Commissioner Bulc remarked, " Cities and regions play an important role in our efforts to reduce emissions from transport. With today's declaration on the deployment of clean buses, cities and regions together with manufacturers of clean technology commit to increase the share of clean public transport in urban areas. This is good for the health of our citizens and the quality of life in our cities and regions. It also helps our industry to compete in a growing market for clean transport solutions. I welcome the commitments undertaken and I am confident that many more cities and regions as well as companies will join the initiative we are starting today. "
The CoR also adopted its opinion led by József Ribányi (HU/EPP), Vice-President of the County Council of Tolna Megye, during this plenary session where regions and cities representatives assessed the delivery of the EU's strategy on low-emission mobility launched a year ago by the European Commission. " The investment on low emission fleets should be accompanied by the streamlining of the links between the energy sector and the transport system " pointed out rapporteur Ribányi, also referring to the concrete experience of his community : "In the city of Paks, in my region, thanks to the ELENA programme and the EIB funds, electric vehicles of the public transport system will be charged using the surplus capacity of night time operating hours of the only nuclear power plant of Hungary ".
Increasing the efficiency of transport systems is a key objective for local leaders, who shared their concerns with Commissioner Bulc. In order to address the lack of interoperability of data, services and technical solutions, they called for EU-wide standards. Local leaders also warned that there was a serious lack of coordination and cooperation among relevant actors which was hindering integrated pricing and ticketing for multimodal transport solutions. The CoR called for new rules at EU level to make mandatory the sharing of timetables and travel information. As for the use of low emission energy for transport, local and regional leaders stress that the ideal low-emission alternative energy should be produced, stored and consumed locally. They also call for prioritising and subsidising non-food biofuels, whilst phasing out food-based biofuels – which have environmental side effects.
In order to boost the delivery of the low emission mobility strategy, the European Commission is promoting innovative financial tools, blending resources from the Connecting Europe Facility and bank guarantees for private investors provided by the European Fund For Strategic Investment A 1bn Euros call based on this scheme was launched in February this year.
Note for editors: funding tools
The key funding tool for regions and cities planning to invest on low emission mobility is offered by EU cohesion policy. The European Structural and Investment Funds make 70 billion Euros available for transport, of which 39 billion for supporting the move towards low-emission mobility (12 billion specifically for low-carbon and sustainable urban mobility). EU research programme Horizon2020 invests 6.4 billion Euros on low-carbon mobility projects. The EIB is supporting the shift towards greened public transport with specific products and the European Fund for Strategic Investment is also contributing to this goal.
For more information
European Clean Bus Deployment Initiative
EU Strategy for low-emission mobility
Tel. +32 2 282 2461