EPOMM e-update November 2017
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Dear reader,

In an increasingly competitive global environment, public authorities are focusing on new ways to implement and finance projects, build infrastructure and deliver services. Formal and less formal constellations of partnerships have developed. In this e-update, some ideas for partnerships for sustainable mobility are provided. Hopefully they can act as inspiration.


Creating partnerships is in the heart of ‘responsible mobility’

Responsible mobility is an outcome of the growing awareness to work on Mobility Management and car independent lifestyles. Schools, businesses and neighbourhoods join forces with their local authority to overcome mobility related problems. The following examples showcase various fields of such partnerships:

  • School travel plans: Authorities can encourage schools to start up a school travel plan by providing subsidies, personnel, step-by-step guides, material or other incentives. On the other hand, in the Flanders region in Belgium, every year more than 1,000 primary schools participate in the Traffic Snake Game, which is organised by Mobiel 21 and supported by the bank and insurance company KBC.
  • Company travel plans: The central instrument to coordinate sustainable mobility actions for businesses is a company travel plan. In the 'Beter Benutten' ('Optimising Use') programme, the Dutch government, regions and businesses are working together to improve accessibility in the 12 busiest urban regions, using a package of concrete and quantifiable measures that focus on the needs and behaviour of daily commuters and transport providers.
  • Neighbourhood bike parking: The City of Amsterdam stimulates the installation and exploitation of safe and accessible bike parking within neighbourhoods. For this neighbourhood bike parking, the city offers investment grants to private operators. The topic was subject of a policy transfer with the Flemish Cycling Academy in Belgium.
  • Parking management: The Push&Pull project promoted the combination of rewards and disincentives to induce a change in mobility behaviour, using parking space management in combination with Mobility Management measures. In Ghent the autonomous Mobility Company combines mobility policy with exploitation, enforcement and earmarking of parking revenues into sustainable mobility.

Shared mobility is a shared responsibility

(c) Fred DOTTER Mobiel 21

There is a clear trend towards shared mobility: more vehicles are being shared in cities, both via peer-to-peer and business-to-consumer models. Car sharing is among the mobility modes which are set to become much more common in the next few years. The change from ownership to shared mobility has also caused a shift in the role of public authorities and the relationships between public and private partnerships. A notable example is Autolib’, an electric car sharing service inaugurated in Paris in December 2011. It is operated by the Bolloré industrial group, and complements the city’s successful bike-sharing scheme, Velib’, which was set up in 2007.


Crowdfunding for sustainable mobility and urban developments

High Line park NYC – Manhattan 2011
David Berkowitz - www.marketersstudio.com

Crowdfunding has the potential to unlock access to financial barriers, and to help communities to come together to invest in their own spaces and places, or to improve the environment where they live. This is often called civic crowdfunding. Good examples include:

  • The Luchtsingel complex in Rotterdam is a 'crowdfunded bridge' including a rooftop vegetable garden has been developed to connect a deprived neighbourhood to the city centre. Crowdfunders could fund a section of the bridge, and could customise their section - or even just a plank - with a name, a wish or a message to the city.
  • The EMBARQ network states that allowing citizens to donate small amounts of money to projects of their choosing, urban planning can become a more participatory and inclusive process, and provides two examples. Helsinki, Finland’s capital and largest city, is planning to revitalise its public and shared transport network by 2025 with a “mobility on demand” system. The goal is to provide an array of transport options that are cheap, flexible, and well-coordinated in order to be competitive with private car ownership. Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, in the past year announced that it is planning to make a greener, healthier city that would eliminate the need for cars within the next 15-20 years. More information about these two examples can be found at TheCityFix website.
  • Civic crowdfunding is also used to facilitate bottom-up initiatives by connecting them to local government. An example is Brickstarter, funded in 2012 by Sitra (the Finnish government's innovation fund), which seeks to address the fact that just raising the money to build something in a city isn't enough: you have to get permission. In 2013, Brickstarter) published a book about contemporary cities and how they might create new platforms to enable more effective debate about the future of our shared spaces.
  • In Antwerp, Belgium, the citizens-led initiative Ringland has been working on a visionary plan to ‘roof over’ the whole of the ring road and to separate local and through traffic as the answer to a policy that clings to an obsolete attitude to urban development, quality of life and mobility. Ringland has negotiated with local officials, who have agreed on a compromise.
  • At a much smaller, more local scale, crowdfunding is increasingly used by communities to develop their parks and gardens, or, like in Vienna, Austria, Urban Farms.

Public Private Partnerships are popular, but are they practical?

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) have become a trendy way to finance transport projects. But there are big questions to ask before entering into a PPP.

In September 2016, Eurostat has published a Guide to the Statistical Treatment of PPPs to further detail how local and regional authorities should build their PPP project based on the risk sharing. Clearly, PPPs should be undertaken on the basis of, amongst other things, value for money, an appropriate allocation of risks and operational efficiency, with a particular eye on affordability and long-term fiscal responsibility. Many challenges must be overcome to deliver robust public investment through PPPs.


Three precautions for Public-Private Partnerships

With the paper Urban Transport - Can Public-Private Partnerships Work? , the World Bank examined what PPPs can do and what they need to work, focusing in particular on the role of institutions.

The central question was whether PPPs can deal with urban transport issues better than conventional public provision and ensure proper maintenance and less congestion. And if so, how?

The conclusion was that cities should take care when developing a PPP programme, noting at least three precautions:

  1. PPPs should be chosen only if they improve efficiency.
  2. Private firms will invest only if they know that revenue streams will not be expropriated.
  3. PPPs need even more sophisticated governance and public intervention than does conventional provision.

Public Private Partnerships under Horizon 2020

Already back in 2013, the European Commission published its Communication "Public-private Partnerships in Horizon 2020: A powerful tool to deliver on innovation and growth in Europe" in which it is stated that Europe must invest more and better in research and innovation. A key element of Horizon 2020 is to join forces with the private sector and with Member States, to achieve results that one country or company is less likely to achieve alone.

The European Commission has been investing heavily in Public Private Partnerships to enable a long-term, strategic approach to research and innovation and reduce uncertainties by allowing for long-term commitments, for example to improve the quality and efficiency of rail services in Europe: The Public Private Partnership Shift2Rail is working with a total investment of EUR 920 million to drastically improve the quality and efficiency of rail services in Europe by accelerating the uptake of innovative solutions. The initiative pools the resources and expertise of all key players to increase reliability and punctuality of rail services by as much as 50 percent, to double railway capacity and thereby reduce congestion and CO2 emissions, to cut the costs of infrastructure and rolling stock by up to half, and to retain Europe's leadership in the global rail market. These objectives can only be achieved if all actors in the rail sector work in partnership.

In 2016, the European Commission reinforced the role of Public Private Partnerships, and more than EUR 20 billion are planned to be invested in the coming years in the context of the Digital Single Market.



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Partnering-up for smart mobility is valuable but needs to be used very carefully and with a complete understanding. PPPs, for example, aren’t the only way to do big projects, and mankind even went to the moon without a PPP, but innovations have the potential to tackle the societal challenges of today and become key contributors to the achievement of the European Union’s 2020 objectives.

There is also a wealth of community crowdfunding projects which seek to fund community events be they cultural, educational or just plain fun!

In addition to maximizing efficiencies and innovations, and to foster a more sustainable mobility, partnerships, may they be formal or informal, can provide much needed capital to finance programmes and projects, thereby freeing public funds for core economic and social programmes.


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