Contribution of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP)on Innovation

Hans RAT, UITP Secretary GeneralUITP Statement for International Transport Forum

by Hans RAT, UITP Secretary General

UITP launched in June 2009 an ambitious strategy for the public transport sector with the objective to double the market share of public transport worldwide by 2025. The implementation of these measures will require both technology and policy innovation in public transport, aiming at making public transport part of future lifestyles.

Usually innovation is simply equated to technological innovation (energy efficiency, etc). Such innovation is of course crucial to the technical progress in the transport sector, and public transport stakeholders actively promote technological improvements of their vehicles and systems. Technology innovation is expected to reduce the costs of operation, and to improve the management of public transport networks. But there are two other elements to be considered as areas of innovation in their own right: policy and lifestyle changes.
In general terms, policies which create a positive environment for the development, the improvement and the use of public transport naturally encourage innovation in the sector. Policies which address in particular the fragmentation of the public transport supply chain and encourage public transport operators to develop competences and entrepreneurship are essential to stimulate innovation.

Innovative thinking is needed in order to integrate urban development and public transport systems in a city, to counter the negative effects of dispersed urban development based on high use of private cares. Closer coordination should also be put in place between property developers and the public transport sector. The better integration of public transport into urban planning would increase the attractiveness of public transport compared to private cars, by bringing about a better density of supply.

Furthermore, the context of tighter public budgets and increasing costs due to a growing demand for public transport highlights the need for alternative financing of public transport (both from public and private sources). The mobilisation of alternative funding sources enables the provision of more and better public transport.

The most fundamental form of innovation is innovation which can bring about a change in people's lifestyle. The public transport sector strives to achieve this by considering customer needs and lifestyles as the drivers of planning, funding and delivering high quality mobility services. Urban navigation services and devices are examples of innovation which integrates the needs of customers into the public transport offer. Such innovation is truly sustainable, rather than focusing on developing electric private cars at a time when the number of drivers' licences in the younger generations is actually decreasing!

In conclusion, progress towards sustainable transport depends on technology innovation but also critically on policy innovation. The biggest impact however can be expected from innovations which fundamentally change the mobility behaviour of current and future generations.