Public Transport 2020: Making the Connection” is the chosen theme for the International Association of Public Transport’s (UITP’s) 56th World Congress, which will be held in Rome June 5 to 9.
In line with this theme, the congress will focus on public transport’s role as the connection between social, environmental and business aspects that can stimulate future growth. “We want to clearly set out our strategic vision for the future: a future where public transport is a valued mobility option amongst citizens, and thus also in political decisions,” says UITP Secretary General Hans Rat. “Globally, we must all address the same concerns for future fossil fuel shortage and scarcity of public money dedicated to public transport.”
The congress will also examine societal trends and their impact on the development of public transport, including urban sprawl, demographic and lifestyle changes, economic globalization and the availability of new technologies. In addition, the UITP will unveil the results of its strategic project, “From Vision to Action: Public Transport in 2020.” The project identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the present model of organizing public transport, and aims to create a set of scenarios for the future where public transport is able to fulfill its role in equitable and sustainable communities.
The event program features a wide choice of modal, thematic and regional sessions. The modal sessions will examine such issues as efficient and cost-effective bus operation, opportunities and constraints for light rail, and innovative technologies for metros. Thematic sessions will discuss a broad range of topics, from personal security to financing to marketing techniques. Sessions on the European Union legislative process, innovations from developing countries and poverty reduction will offer a regional perspective. The local host session will focus on mobility in Rome and the Lazio region of Italy.
UITP’s Mobility & City Transport Exhibition, which will be held in conjunction with the World Congress, will feature more than 300 exhibitors. A sampling of exhibiting companies includes Digital Recorders Inc., Scheidt & Bachmann, Q’Straint, Siemens Transportation Systems and Van Hool.
Integration of events
A new concept, the UITP Mobility Village to be launched at this year’s event, will integrate the exhibition with the congress. “The Mobility Village will fully integrate our exhibition with state-of-the-art exhibits supporting the congress themes,” Rat says.
Instead of static sessions, topics will be covered in dedicated workshops, as well as open and interactive discussion and encounter forums. There will also be guided tours of the exhibition linked to workshop topics.
Open-air restaurants, coffee shops and street furniture will provide a “street-life” atmosphere to the village concept. Roads linking the various halls of the Fiera di Roma exhibition center, where the event will be held, will be given names related to the public transport sector. The village will also feature bus stations with electric buses or small tour trains to transport visitors to halls of their choice.
Exhibition visitors will also be able to view a selection of top entries from the “European bus of the future” design competition. Entrants were required to incorporate general public transport needs, the demands of individual passengers and economic constraints faced by operators and builders. The winner of the design competition will be chosen by a jury panel composed of some of the world’s leading figures in design, public transport and civic life.
Another highlight will be the official creation of a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division of UITP. Currently, there are more than 25 divisions. This new region includes 18 countries and covers a geographical area sharing common cultures, history, religion, values and attitudes toward public transport, often seen as the poor man’s means of transport. Social, cultural and economic trends have a direct impact on the mobility behaviors of a country or a region, according to the UITP.
By integrating these specific characteristics, the MENA Division will try to inverse the current trend of rapid deterioration of the urban environment brought on by a lack of support for public transport, even in relatively low-density countries of the Arabian Gulf. A preliminary goal for the new regional office will be the development of a systematic campaign to improve awareness of the significant contributions of public transport.
Other key division goals include providing basic mobility in very poor countries such as Yemen, and quality alternatives to car use in rich countries like Kuwait.