Smart, interconnected and low carbon transport is a necessity for the economic future and liveability of European cities: such was the message at an event organised by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) today.
The potential use of existing public transport infrastructure in some 200 European cities for future multimodal electric urban mobility was discussed at an event organised by UITP in Brussels. The move towards electric mobility in urban areas will require major investment into the supporting electric grid and charging infrastructure required for the large scale introduction of electric vehicles.
At the same time, new business models are emerging to overcome existing barriers, such as high battery costs, green electricity supply and charging infrastructure. Many of these business models presuppose high levels of public transport and often include those systems complemented by shared (e-)cars, (e-)cycling and walking.
The Clean Power for Transport Package, presented by the European Commission in January 2013, focused on how to build the necessary infrastructure for alternative fuels, including electrification. As the financing of completely new electric infrastructure will have its limits, the use of existing infrastructure offers significant potential and for probably a lower cost.
“In the 200 larger European cities we have widespread existing metro, light rail, tram and trolleybus networks with electric power supply installations for many years now,” said Adolf Müller-Hellmann, senior advisor of Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen (VDV) and the author of a new study presented at the event. “Such installations offer options for rapid and slow charging of other electric vehicles such as electric buses or (shared) e-cars, e-bikes, e-taxis often at very interesting locations such as park-and-ride facilities”.
The study was carried out in the framework of the European Bus System of the Future (EBSF) project, coordinated by UITP. Such a solution would also help to extend fully-electric solutions to a wider part of the urban road transport network. In fact, consolidated solutions for electric bus systems are already in use (full-size trolley-buses, full electric sized battery-based mini/midi electric vehicles, full-size diesel-hybrid buses), and the market for these solutions has already been developed.
“UITP is now actively looking to the next challenge, the development of solutions for vehicles of larger capacity (12m and more), which requires an urban-optimised mobility concept and infrastructure,” added Arno Kerkhof, senior manager bus division.
UITP believes that further investigating such options may not only be economically appealing, but also offers the opportunity to develop the future sustainable urban electric mobility network around existing public transport networks. “This makes sense as it is fully in line with recent trends of changing mobility behaviour by urban populations who are using increasingly multimodal offers, resulting in a decrease of car ownership,” commented UITP Secretary General, Alain Flausch.