Whether it’s state, regional, national or international, the associations available to transportation professionals provide a vast network for information exchange, opportunities to build expertise to take back to their own organization and a place to build valuable relationships.
Several association leaders talk about how they got involved, what their associations offer and their thoughts on how working together benefits the industry and our sustainability.
International Association of Public Transport
It was while studying engineering at Bologna’s Civil Engineering Faculty that Roberto Cavalieri became fascinated by the complexity and relevance of public transportation in people’s lives. “Growing up in Trentino-Alto Adige, an Italian region where the development of public transport infrastructure has been especially strong, I decided to engage and try to improve public transport facilities and institutions.” He says, “I especially liked the fact that so much planning and technical knowledge is involved in each and every decision, which, in turn, has such a big impact in people’s everyday life.
“While I was working at ATAC, Rome, I started to get in touch with UITP and to realize the importance of this association as a link for a large number of actors in the sector,” tells Cavalieri. “I started working with the UITP’s Brussels representatives on European issues. Given the relevance and success of our projects, I created a “task force” in Rome to closely follow European projects and issues, side-by-side with the UITP Brussels team.”
At that time Cavalieri was elected president of the UITP European Union Committee, and then in 2005 was elected as president of the UITP.
UITP represents more than 3,100 urban, local, regional and national mobility professionals from more than 90 countries on all continents and, in 2010, will be celebrating its 125th anniversary. “We are unique because we bring together different actors, including operating companies, regional and national authorities, the service and supply industry, research institutes and consultants,” Cavalieri says. “It plays a major advocacy role for promoting investments in the transport sector, service improvement and product development. We are a major point of reference and a center for best practices and benchmarking for the public transport sector all over the world.”
The association’s main role is to improve public spaces and quality of life in urban areas, mobilizing political will in favor of public transport as a sustainable mobility choice. In order to promote this message, UITP is engaging with a number of international bodies, such as the United Nations, the World Bank and European institutions, to build innovative projects. An area that Cavalieri also says UITP has been focusing on is the youth. “There are a number of organizations carrying out important activities for youth development and we believe that they could be valuably involved in public transport, to educate youth and spread the message of sustainable mobility,” he says. The Youth International Award, created in 2005, rewards the best projects created by young managers for young transit users.
Another program, Youth Parliaments, gets young people involved in public transportation where they meet and exchange ideas. Sessions are held all over the world. “A group of 15 to 20 young people from schools or universities are contacted every time there is an important UITP event,” Cavalieri explains. “They are invited to participate as UITP delegates, participating actively and ending writing reports on their specific needs for PT and major related issues, their dreams, their problems and their wishes.” He says that all the reports collected will be part of a larger report on youth that will be handed over to decision makers present in Vienna at the Worldwide Congress in 2009. He adds, “Youth is not only the future, it is already the present and we have to act massively to change the educational paths; only doing this we will change the attitude in terms of passenger transport.”