The UITP Global Public Transport Summit in Montréal offered a glimpse at the future of a public transport market that is rapidly evolving and emphasized the importance of taking a leading role in navigating the change.

The theme of the biennial UITP (International Association of Public Transport) Global Public Transport Summit was “Lead the TRANSITion” and served to highlight the need for public transport to take the lead faced with the numerous changes and challenges such as digitalization, advances in green energy, and the emergence of new players on the mobility market. The event also served to highlight the vast amount of innovation in the sector, from data wizards to autonomous vehicle pioneers.

There were several main takeaways from the event. “In order to lead the transition, the business model of public transport will need to change and is changing to fully integrate new services like bike- or car-sharing,” said UITP Secretary General Alain Flausch. Customers will need to be put at the heart of public transport companies’ concerns and working together in collaboration will be key.

Public transport is making great efforts to decarbonize and it is “leading the show in setting an example for the rest of the transport sector,” Flausch added. However, in an age where expectations for rapid delivery are so high, public transport will need to be more reactive and increase the to-market time of projects. Finally, the last takeaway was the word ‘partnership’: “working together with partners, such as new mobility players will allow the sector to become more agile,” commented Flausch.

UITP’s Global Public Transport Summit was indeed truly global: 2,500 participants from 84 countries around the world came to exchange best practice with international experts and explore the 330 companies from 30 countries displaying their very latest innovative products and solutions in the 25,000m² Exhibition, attracting 13,000 visitors over the three days.

The Summit, hosted by local transport operators AMT and STM, put Montréal’s extensive integrated public transport system, which includes car- and bike-sharing, in the international spotlight and highlighted the major strides taking place in Canadian urban transport: “At this UITP Summit, the Canadian transit industry is having a real moment on the world stage,” explained Patrick Leclerc, president/CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

UITP will be looking ahead to its next Summit in 2019 in Stockholm with Pere Calvet now at the helm as the association’s new president. Calvet, a civil engineer with more than 30 years of experience in public transport, most of it spent in urban rail, was voted in as president at the association’s general assembly during the Summit.

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