Urban ITS Expert Groups has prepared Guidelines for ITS deployment in urban regions

Interview with Mr. Pawel Stelmaszczyk, Head of unit C3 “Intelligent Transport Systems”, DG MOVE

Mobility –related aspects are more and more important in urban areas given that cities face an ascending trend in terms of the number of citizens. Provided that citizens’ needs and demands in terms of transport offer change, transport operators need to adjust and improve their services. It can imply opening the access to data, provision of real-time information, or implementation of new smart ticketing systems.

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) are a very useful instrument in order to achieve objectives of the European transport policy. ITS contribute to a better integration of different transport modes, making traffic management and usage of the whole transport network more efficient.
The mobility in urban areas faces many challenges: increase of number of inhabitants, aging of population, urban sprawl and the increase of congestion levels. In order to tackle these challenges, the European Commission’s Expert Group on ITS for urban areas has elaborated the “Guidelines for ITS deployment”, which promote and demonstrate the benefits of using ITS in urban regions. The guidelines are addressed at the organisations responsible for the decision making and the implementation of ITS at local level. The following key applications were addressed: multimodal information, smart ticketing and traffic management.
Mr. Pawel Stelmaszczyk, Head of Unit C3 “Intelligent Transport Systems”, DG MOVE-European Commission, has agreed to talk in an interview about the importance of implementing the ITS guidelines in urban areas and the role that new technologies have in making green transport greener and efficient, as well as about the benefits of the information and ticketing systems for the development of a multimodal transport system.

Railway PRO: What is the objective of Guidelines for ITS deployment in urban areas and how will they contribute to efficiency and to increasing eco-friendly transport in urban areas?
Pawel Stelmaszczyk: The Expert Group on Urban ITS was created by the European Commission in the framework of its Action Plan on ITS (Action 6.4) and Action Plan on Urban Mobility (Action 20) in December 2010 for the duration of 24 months. One of the main tasks of the Expert Group was to develop specific Guidelines to promote and show the benefits of the use of ITS in urban areas along the individual travelers’ mobility chain. The Guidelines target the organisations in charge of decision making and technical deployment of ITS on a local level, and address four key ITS applications: multimodal information services, traffic management, urban logistics and smart ticketing, with specific aim to foster interoperability and continuity of services. The ITS are perceived as a tool that can be extremely useful in order to achieve policy objectives, e.g. by better integrating all modes of transport, enabling advanced traffic management and more effective and resource-efficient usage of the transport network.

Railway PRO: What will be the next step regarding the activity of the Urban ITS Expert Group for stimulating the implementation of projects resulting in the growth of urban transport using the ITS?
Pawel Stelmaszczyk: The Expert Group’s mandate expires in December 2012, and the Group will hold then its last meeting in Brussels. However, given that in 2013 a new ‘Urban mobility package’ proposal is planned, dealing with inter alia Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, City Logistics and Access Restrictions, the work of the Urban ITS Expert Group will be part of it, and the experts will be invited to contribute to the elaboration of specific elements of the package.

Railway PRO: How can the dialogue between public and private parties be stimulated to promote ITS development in urban areas? Theoretically, the accent falls on implementing joint projects, but in practice, actions between the private and the public party are difficult to implement in the lack of financing and legal regulations. In your opinion, what are the most efficient methods to simulate the cooperation of the two segments?
Pawel Stelmaszczyk: Indeed, the cooperation between different institutional partners and between public and private sectors is vital for the successful deployment of all projects, not only ITS-related. In practical terms, for sure clear rules are necessary in order to advance such cooperation. Such rules need to be enacted, e.g. in public procurement and project management. Apart from that, public-private cooperation can also be based on the principle of exchange of data, for instance. When it comes to access to data, private developers of information and/or geo-localisation services need public scheduling/fare/and traffic real-time data, the same as public sector needs private data for purpose of better traffic management. Such data exchanges are already developing in many cities, and should be encouraged.

Railway PRO: What does the ITS Directive focus on and how will it determine Member States to pay special importance to projects concerning the implementation of ITS technologies in public transport?
Pawel Stelmaszczyk: The Directive 2010/40/EU, otherwise called the ‘ITS Directive’, is providing a framework for the deployment of Intelligent Transport systems in the field of transport and for interfaces with other modes. It has six priority areas, for which specifications will be prepared, e.g. multimodal travel information services, real-time traffic information services, road safety related ‘universal traffic information’, interoperable EU-wide eCall, information and reservation services for safe and secure parking places for trucks and commercial vehicles. These specifications will be binding, should Member States decide to deploy the aforementioned services. Urban dimension is duly taken into account, where appropriate, in the process of drafting the specifications under the ITS Directive.

Railway PRO: What is the goal of the MIS (Multimodal Information Services) and of Smart Ticketing and how will they contribute to increasing the attractiveness of passenger transport?
Pawel Stelmaszczyk: Urban regions face nowadays multiple challenges when it comes to their mobility policies. The cities are more and more spread (which makes the transport network ever bigger and costly to maintain), and congested, because of the important use of individual vehicles. There are different measures that can be applied in order to counter these trends (different types of access restriction schemes, etc.). The idea behind reliable multi-modal information services (which necessarily need to come in real-time) is that they would enable passengers to take more informed mobility choices, and see that sometimes it is faster and even more convenient to take the public transport, instead of engaging into a car trip (or at least combine a part of the trip by car with a part of the trip by PT). Thus, MIS can contribute to modal shift and enable better usage of the network. The integration of MIS with ticketing services can also give a further push for people to travel on PT, given that they would be able to acquire their ticket in a fast and convenient way. Smart ticketing solutions would give the opportunity also to bring different services together, such as, e.g. tickets to cinema/theatre with integrated PT ticket, booking of parking place or of a bike, and many more.

Railway PRO: How does the MIS and Smart Ticketing policy (developed by Urban ITS Expert Group) answer sustainable mobility needs in urban regions?
Pawel Stelmaszczyk: The Guidelines developed by the Urban ITS Expert Group identify the challenges in urban mobility and try to raise awareness among decision-makers about the fact that ITS solutions can help them to achieve the willed for policy goals. They identify answers that need to be asked in every city-specific context, the partners that should cooperate together and the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve a successful project delivery. Of course, the situations differ across Europe, but many challenges and elements of answers are similar and the guidance relies on these elements, trying to help local authorities to take informed decisions.

Railway PRO: What are the main challenges that urban transport operators are confronted with in implementing “Smart Ticketing” Projects?
Pawel Stelmaszczyk: Potential problems of deployment of smart ticketing solutions are of different sorts. First of all, they can be financial. The solutions that will be deployed need to be up to date, and respect privacy of their users. Also, sometimes the question of replacement of ticketing systems is not an easy one, i.e. the old ticketing system needs to be run in parallel with the new one, until the full transition can be made, which requires investment in both of them and a clear migration strategy. Also, one should not forget the question of training staff that needs to be fully operational under new system, and also of informing the users about the change and its modalities. It is especially important with older users who are not accustomed to new solutions and those who might not possess yet the new media to carry the ticket.

Railway PRO: One of the benefits of Smart Ticketing consists in “reduction of dwelling time (25%) … increase of PT commercial speed”. How could this objective be reached?
Pawel Stelmaszczyk: Using smart solutions in the domain of PT ticketing can indeed reduce the dwelling time and increase the efficiency and speed of PT fleet. It is particularly the case of newly developed contactless media that allow a passenger to board onto public transport and validate their ticket only by approaching the medium carrying it (e.g. smartcard, bankcard or NFC-enabled phone) to the machine. The current progress of such solutions makes it possible to validate ticket in a fraction of a second, which in turn allows more passengers to board in a small amount of time, and thus reduces the time spent by the vehicles at the stops, e.g. buses. Also, the knowledge of the numbers of passengers travelling at different lines/stops at different times of the day that can be easily collected (with respect of privacy issues) thanks to smart ticketing, and it can in turn allow for better adjustment of the network usage.

[ by Pamela Luică ]
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