The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has recently published (2022) a report in the context of TRIMIS (the Transport Research and Innovation Monitoring and Information System) on Public transport research and innovation in Europe, which identifies the relevant projects from the TRIMIS database that have a focus on public transport.
In so doing, the report provides a quantitative and qualitative review of the recent trends, challenges and achievements of European research and innovation initiatives in public transport. It also presents future research needs and policy recommendations.
The European Green Deal. with its ambitious target for reducing emissions, together with the New EU Urban Mobility Framework spotlighted public transport as a key challenge to the EU achieving its mobility and climate goals. Research and innovation are thus required in order to respond to this need. In particular, the key themes for research and innovation identified in the policy documents and in the public transport-related projects reviewed in the report, are: digitalisation, emissions reduction, public transport planning and management, safety, transport infrastructure development, and the deployment of connected and automated mobility.
The key conclusions of the report are:
— Even though public transport has a central role in EU policy and strategy documents and is key to achieving the objectives of the Green Deal, only 114 out of nearly 2,700 H2020 transport projects in the TRIMIS database feature public transport.
— The main topics identified in public transport-related projects covered public transport planning and management, digitalisation and digital innovations, emissions reduction and electrification of transport.
— The H2020 research and innovation effort is in line with the key challenges set out in the EU Urban Mobility Framework.
— Future research and innovation initiatives should concentrate on fostering an inclusive, safe, affordable and sustainable public transport system for all users, offering a seamless integration with new and shared mobility services. Public transport electrification and infrastructure development should contribute to a more efficient transport system and a reduction in emissions. Furthermore, automated and connected mobility should be developed and tested under different environmental, infrastructure and social conditions.
The report recommends further research into the following areas:
— Accessibility to public transport so as not to leave anyone behind. Thus, future R&I initiatives should concentrate on:
- evaluation of the current performance (transport accessibility, volume of passengers, user satisfaction), mapping users’ needs and improving planning in order to meet those needs,
- fostering inclusive, safe, affordable and sustainable public transport for all, including tailored approaches for vulnerable groups.
In addition, it should identify the specific mobility needs of women, children, teenagers and people with disabilities, as well as take into account the geographical dimension, i.e. the needs of people from peri-urban and rural areas.
— Linking public transport and active travel modes, i.e. multi-modal hubs and accessibility to infrastructures. Participation in transport urban planning activities should be encouraged with feedback activities on public transport utilisation and satisfaction.
— Incorporating stakeholders in the decision-making process by means of innovative participatory processes, co-creation methods, living labs and hubs for innovative participative governance.
— Integrating new and shared mobility services (e.g. micro mobility including bike/scooter sharing, demand responsive transport, car-pooling or car sharing) as well as integrating Mobility-as-a-Service into existing or new infrastructure settings, in both urban and non-urban areas.
— Collecting, storing and analysing public transport data and using simulation tools to support the creation of science-based indicators, which would lead to a common planning, monitoring, reporting and verification framework for European cities. Data collection should cover different transport user groups, mobility patterns, behaviours and needs and dissemination of these data would increase public transport use, greatly support users’ informed decisions (e.g. about route choice, applicable fare etc.) and help lead to a modal shift towards more sustainable modes of transport and reduced private car use.
— Implementing the learning, replicability and scaling-up of solutions so that cities can learn from each other other and tailor their approach in order to develop a customised public transport policy framework using Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans concept and guidelines. Large-scale pilots should be promoted that deploy R&I solutions that foresee scaling-up and replication in other cities.
— Deploying electric, automated and connected buses under different environmental, infrastructure and social conditions and more accurate estimation of operational and ownership costs, which deserve additional research in the future, to lead to more efficient transport and reduced emissions.
The list could be expanded further in response to new societal and mobility challenges. For now, the indications in the report align with the topics included in the relevant Horizon Europe calls both from the Climate Neutral and Smart Cities Mission and from the Horizon Europe, Pillar II-Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness and Cluster 5 on Climate, Energy and Mobility.
To read the full report, please click here.