Israel, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Poland, Romania, France, Colombia, Canada, South Africa, and Europe, represented by ERTICO were the eleven countries and world regions that participated in the first virtual ITS International Forum organised by ITS Israel at the end of May. Their goal was to share experiences on how they are dealing with transport-related issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Various topics were discussed including the public’s reluctance to use public transport, the decline in revenue for public transport companies and the expected changes in urban structure.

“In pre-Corona days, Israel was suffering from severe traffic congestion challenges, especially in big cities,” said Ur Omry, Chairman of ITS Israel. “Over the years we started introducing numerous technological tools onto the market to encourage people to use public transport. We saw a positive trend towards public transport and not only in Israel. However, with COVID-19, all of a sudden traffic was reduced by 70% or more, and we are now facing a dilemma: people will be reluctant to use public and shared transport services and will be more likely to switch to private cars. This could result in even more congested highways”, he added.

These issues are common to many countries, showing a united approach is needed. “It is pretty amazing that whilst our cultures are different we are all dealing with the same issue and its consequences. We decided, therefore, to push the organisation of this virtual Forum forward and start the discussion with the global community”, concluded Omry.

Representing Europe’s ITS sector as a whole, ERTICO’s Director of Innovation and Deployment Johanna Tzanidaki shared ERTICO’s vision and policy drivers for 2030. “COVID-19 is the tip of the iceberg”, said Dr. Tzanidaki. “At ERTICO we are working together with our 120 Partners not only to solve COVID-19-related issues, but also to provide users with long lasting solutions. It is imperative therefore that whatever we do we adopt a holistic management of mobility, work to provide cleaner transport services, invest on safety and cyber security and keep in mind such as the available energy sources and demographic changes”, she concluded.

In conclusion, it was unanimously determined that the Forum will reconvene, to follow-up on the solutions for the topics discussed and present new solutions for future challenges.