At the December plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, cities and regions discussed their suggestions for better public transport in cities and metropolitan regions. The opinion drawn up by Adam Struzik (PL/EPP), President of the Mazovia Region, highlights the challenges of increasing car traffic in cities and metropolitan areas and calls for sustainable and smart mobility solutions.
Transport is responsible for around a quarter of green house gas emission in the EU and some modes of transport have negative impact on people's quality of life and health as a result of air pollution, traffic congestion, noise, accidents and the way in which the public space is used. On the other hand, the nature of metropolitan regions requires citizens to commute from peri-urban areas into city centres. This makes the change to environmentally friendly mobility necessary and means that cost-effective public transport must be at the centre of this transformation.
"Modern cities are based on well-organised and efficiently managed public transport, which is key to their development. We need alternative and sustainable solutions to individual motor transport, for which actual costs are currently significantly underestimated. At the same time, we need to be aware that there is a reverse trend towards using public transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, we must invest in innovative solutions and learn from the current situation to develop resilient public transport systems that are a safe and a fair choice for the current crisis and for any that may arise in future ", said Adam Struzik, President of the Mazovia Region.
The rapporteur calls on the European Commission to ensure support and funding, not only for new investment in urban public transport and non-motorised mobility infrastructure, but also for reworking obsolete and inefficient solutions. The Connecting Europe Facility, the Modernisation Fund and the Recovery and Resilience facility, as well as the Just Transition Fund need to provide their share of investment in sustainable urban mobility helping cities and metropolitan areas to achieve the decarbonisation of all modes of transport and ensuring a more sustainable modal split.
The rapporteur further highlights the importance of finding ways to meet citizen's transport needs while reducing their need for travel and the negative impacts that this has. Close cooperation on transport and spatial planning can ensure that in a network of appropriately scaled centres, citizens can access all types of goods and services, particularly in the areas of health, education, sport, culture and social support. The rapporteur also calls for reliable integrated public transport systems that connect rural, peri-urban and urban areas, especially for commuters, the elderly and young people.
"Regions' authorities have a particular role to play in public transport's efficiency and the integration of cities and metropolitan areas with rural areas, by means of modern planning and the financing of public transport. There is also a key role here for external funding from EU cohesion funds, as well as other instruments financing transport investments, especially the Just Transition Fund, which is part of the European Green Deal", says Adam Struzik.
According to Mr Struzik, cities and metropolitan areas will need policy decisions based on conceptual, organisational and educational work and must have adequate financial resources to achieve their decarbonisation objectives. Changing social habits towards a greater share of less environmentally harmful transport requires awareness from users and, above all, for there to be a real choice.
- Find pictures from the CoR plenary session on flickr.
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