Mobility Centres
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According to the SUMOBIS project "A mobility centre is the showcase and the means by which a city's sustainable mobility strategy is communicated" (translated from: Guide d'évaluation de projet SUMOBIS, p. 13). This is probably why Mobility Centres are so widely spread all over Europe. In this e-update we focus upon the definition of a Mobility Centre, differences in organisational structure and the wide range of services provided. Find out more about the new European Network of Mobility Centres that will soon allow you to travel sustainably cross borders.

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What is a Mobility Centre?

A Mobility Centre (MC) is defined as a centre which provides tailor-made information and services on mobility, not only for public transport modes but also for other modes, like car parking, carsharing, bike sharing etc (based on definition developed in Max, p. 15). A MC operates at an urban or regional level, where mobility services are provided. Although public transport forms the heart of a MC, services that solely focus upon selling public transport tickets and offering timetables, are not considered to be genuine Mobility Centres (find out more about this on the website of ILS - Institute für Landes- und Stadtentwicklungsforschung).
Ideally, a MC has a 'physical' office, to visit or to contact by phone and email, and a 'virtual' one, a website offering multimodal information, route planners etc. (e.g. Helsinki Region Transport in Finland, Mobil Zentral in Graz, Austria and Centrale di Mobilità  in Milan, Italy). Although ICT is gaining in importance, the presence of physical offices remains important (for instance SUMOBIS).
Qualified personnel, trained as a mobility consultant, is one of the minimum standards for a MC see presentation on the first MC in Graz. ADEME, the National Energy Agency in France, conducted a national state of the art study on mobility consultants, leading to the formal recognition of the function of 'mobility manager' in France. The formalisation of its skills and training needs are ongoing.



Organisational structure

Mobility Centre in Graz

Guide to Mobility Centre in Padua

Mobility Centre in Padua

A Mobility Centre viewed from inside

Establishing and operating a MC requires cooperation between several partners: often several different public transport operators, local, regional and/or national authorities, tourist offices, businesses, . It requires a substantial budget, of which labour costs represent the biggest part. A few years ago, ILS estimated the total costs to vary between 50.000 and 500.000 Euro per year, depending upon the size and the services of the MC.

Many Mobility Centres are operating with financial help from the national or regional government, for instance:
  • In Austria, klima:aktiv mobil, the climate protection initiative of the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, has financially supported the establishment of 11 new MCs in Austria and a network of 13 MCs in Styria read more, in German)
  • The Flemish Government (Belgium) supported the creation of five MCs, one in each province, together with their joint website Slimweg, in close cooperation with the authorities from the provinces and all providers of sustainable transport modes (read a case study on the first MC in Antwerp).
  • In France, the Ministry of Transport supports the development of initiatives in low income areas to boost employment. This resulted in the implementation of 18 Mobility Centres (in French).

Public transport operators, local authorities and other organisations (energy agencies, tourist offices) often provide (additional) funding for a MC. In the past 10 years, a lot of MCs have been established through the support from European projects. Recently this was the case for:
  • CIVITAS Elan: In March 2012 three Mobility Info Shops opened in Ljubljana. These Mobility Info Shops provide information on public transport in the city and the Slovenian railways. It is planned that at least one of these will grow into a real Mobility Centre by the end of the year.
  • SEE MMS project (South East European Mobility Management Scheme project): SEE MMS partner cities will have implemented 10 new MCs by the end of June 2012. Some highlights:
    • MC in Lecce (Italy, opened 29/11/2011): located strategically at the main entrance of the city and with 2 stands in the city. Services offered: tickets and information on urban and suburban transport, parking areas management and bike sharing.
    • MC in Padua (Italy, opened 19/12/2011): located in the train station of Padua, together with the Tourist Information Service, and having a user-friendly web portal (in Italian only). The Mobility Centre has about 50 contacts a day.
    • MC in Athens (Greece, opened 10/04/2012): located in the Tourism & Development Agency Info Point in Athens International Airport. The MC aims not only to serve as a service and information centre for tourists and residents but also as the operation and coordinating unit of Mobility Management (MM) in Athens.
  • In the frame of the project SUMOBIS (2009-2011) five 'Transport Offices' have been created: in Toulouse, in Burgos, in Oviedo, in Ponferrada and a virtual office in Huelva.
They succeed in setting up innovative services of sustainable transport suggested both to users and to companies, with the aim of rationalising journeys so as to benefit from the most sustainable modes of transport.
To achieve that, they are developing services that have been recently created or improved, with the aim of:
  • Proposing new forms of sustainable travel to users (car sharing, private vehicle sharing, bicycle hire...)
  • To establish Travel Plans for Companies and Universities.
  • To integrate the different information systems for the traveller with the aim of providing comprehensive information.



With a little help from a MC...

Depending upon the local context, a Mobility Centre can provide many services:
Transport for London (UK) is facing the challenge presented by hosting the London Olympics. They have set the target to reduce journey demand by 30% during this period. To reach this aim, they are working with 50 business intermediaries, covering 200.000 organisations in London, to give information on alternatives to travel, to travel less, to travel at less busy times of the day or take a different mode of transport. They have developed a Self Help toolkit so businesses can develop their own Games time action plan. Parking restrictions will be enforced on the Olympic Route Network to reduce delays and some signals will be closed down to allow freer movement. Athlete vehicles will be fitted with tracking devices, so that the Control Centre can detect if any are progressing too slowly, and find alternative routes. Learn more about all this by watching the video Keeping London Moving



Brand new European Network of Mobility Centres

Starting from June 2012, the first European Network of Mobility Centres (SEE MC NET) will be established within the context of SEE MMS. This network collects and interlinks all public transport information and data available on sustainable transport modes which is provided by the members of the network. The SEE MC NET will offer citizens and tourists professional, high quality, information allowing them to travel cross border in Europe, in a sustainable manner.

All European Mobility Centres can join the network free of charge by sending an application to the SEE MC NET board (contact Konstantina Tsamourtzi, Athanasios Chaldeakis or Ingrid Briesner). If the application is accepted, the membership will be established by providing and publishing all data and information required on the SEE MC NET platform. Members are awarded with the blue Mobility Centre symbol.



New publications in the field of MM

  • Sustainable Transport, Mobility Management and Travel Plans. Marcus Enoch, Loughborough University, UK.
    Everything you need to know about travel plans: what makes them special? How do they look like? How common and how effective are they? More information.
  • Best European practices in promoting cycling and walking. Transport Research Centre Verne, Tampere University of Technology, Finland.
    The book offers the latest knowledge to promote cycling and walking. It gives widely point of views, solutions and ideas to planners and decision makers in cities, municipalities and public administration. More information.



Upcoming events

  • Final Conference SEE MMS
    11 - 12 June - Athens (Greece)

  • Cities for Mobility World Congress
    1 - 4 July - Stuttgart (Germany)
    more information

  • BYPAD Beginner's training
    2 - 4 July - Graz (Austria)
    more information

For more events, please visit the EPOMM Calendar.


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