Executive Summary

Overview of topicPublicationReport

Sustainable Transport overview

Sustainable Transport publicationSustainable Transport report

Report presented by Robert Stüssi, Cláudio Casimiro, José Paisana, Marco Mastretta, Joachim Bergerhoff, and Nuno Quental

The transport sector is expected to remain a strong player in the European sustainable development scene. The Europe 2020 strategy  hinges on three priority areas. The first is to encourage smart growth by stimulating an economy based on knowledge and innovation. The second is to continue to develop sustainable growth by promoting a low-carbon, resource-efficient and competitive economy. The third is to ensure inclusive growth by fostering a high-employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion. In all these areas, a strong contribution from the transport sector is expected. Innovation, low-carbon, resource-efficient technologies and social and territorial cohesion are issues that are gradually becoming more crucial to European transport policy.

Regions are administrative and political entities that are in a position to develop coherent approaches to address sustainable transport challenges at the appropriate scale of the daily commuting area. Regions can also act as catalysts for the development of the EU strategy on transport. Many of the problems faced by territories in the transport sector and their effective solutions require an integrated approach and cooperation between the various authorities and stakeholders involved.

This report was commissioned to provide a better understanding of the knowledge capital gained among projects working on the sustainable transport topic. It examines the features and results of these projects and identifies their added value. The analysis was based on collecting, analysing, disseminating, and transferring Good Practices with a view to capitalising on the strengths of each region.

This report reviews six concluded sustainable transport projects, which involved 73 partners and identified 94 Good Practices and which you can find here clustered by the experts into nine Topics. The report also introduces another nine ongoing projects, which identified a further 150 Good Practices for capitalisation.


The challenge encountered on the path to achieving sustainable transport is to define and progressively implement a coherent long-term strategy of integrated policies and actions. But, of course, the elements of such a strategy cannot always all be addressed simultaneously, and projects need to focus on individual operational aspects that will eventually come together into the greater design. In the European policy framework, these challenges are expressed in the Transport 2050: ‘The major challenges, the key measures’ and in the White Paper.

In the long term, the  fundamental strategic challenge is to integrate Land-Use Planning with Transport. As long as land-use planning and the distribution of economic and social functions throughout the regions do not take account of the basic requirements of sustainable transport logistics, it will not be possible to achieve satisfactory results in terms of the economic, social and environmental performance of the transport system.

Within the current European and National legal and policy frameworks, the trend tends towards creating and strengthening regional Transport Authorities. Their role is to represent transport requirements in the regional strategic planning processes and to implement transport policies in the field. Regional Transport Authorities are still rather young, and the need as well as the opportunities for interregional cooperation and exchange of experience are tremendous.

Sustainability requires the reconciliation of environmental, social and economic demands - also referred to as the ‘three pillars’ of sustainability. This means, for example, that any environmental technology and social responsibility initiative will remain unsustainable if the economic pillar is weak. The Financing of Public Transport probably represents the greatest challenge to reconciling these three dimensions.

Finance for public transport – from mass transport to smaller companies offering shared transportation – is only sustainable in the long run if it leads to a considerably increased public transport share in overall motorised transport volumes. Encouraging the use of public and shared transportation is therefore at the core of many Good Practices.

The use of ITS – Intelligent Transport Systems has been on the agenda since the early days of the mobile phone and GPS revolution, and its potential for innovative approaches and pragmatic solutions is still far from exhausted.

Many regions or sub-regions face severe problems of ageing demography and lack of transport facilities for children and the young. Accessible transport is therefore not only a matter of equity, but it also improves the social fabric of entire neighbourhoods, which, in turn, may be critical for their economic sustainability as well.

Mobility Management is the label given to the toolbox of organisation based measures and services that are designed to help people reach their workplaces, schools, administrations, hospitals, social and cultural venues, shopping malls, safely, economically and, ideally, with an extra health benefit from physical activity associated with active modes of transport, i.e. walking and cycling.

We will continue to rely heavily on motorised and polluting means of transport. Therefore, encouraging low-emission transports is clearly part of any complete sustainable transport strategy.

Some Good Practice examples from INTERREG IVC

The metropolitan regions of Stockholm and Gothenburg are resolutely addressing the challenge of integrating transport and land use planning. The ‘Ideal Intermodal Node – Guidebook on Intermodality in [the] Gothenburg Region’ edited by the Gothenburg Region Association of Local Authorities (INTERREG IVC project CATCH_MR) is one tangible result of this approach – not only in terms of actual designs but also for the processes used to develop such designs locally and in a participatory manner.

Bucharest, Budapest, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw and other cities and regions of other new Member States may still currently be on the receiving side of good practice transfer activities, but this situation is set to be reversed. For instance, the public transport authority of Warsaw's ‘Innovative schemes for tendering and contracting public transport’ is now an efficient means of improving the quality of service delivery, freeing up the authority's capacity for the development of customer services, such as the intermodal cross-border travel planner.

UK authorities have been struggling with certain effects of bus transport deregulation. They have now developed new forms of intervention in line with their own priorities, notably with regard to aspects such as infrastructure and public information. In this context, the Brighton & Hove City Council has developed the ‘Quality Bus Partnership and JourneyOn Travel Awareness/Marketing Campaign’ (INTERREG IVC project MMOVE). These and many other examples clearly show how transport challenges and the development of state-of-the-art solutions are, by no means, limited to metropolitan regions.

Electric vehicles are prominent in Ulm's innovative and ground-breaking ‘Car-to-go’ floating car-sharing schemes (INTERREG IVC project MMOVE)  and indeed in many other Good Practices, such as the practice related to the cross-border interoperability of electric vehicles in the Galicia–North Portugal Euroregion (INTERREG IVC project SUM).

Demand-responsive public transport services in sub-urban and rural setting designed to provide good quality service at a reasonable cost need implementing more than ever, and this represents a very difficult challenge. The thematic area of sustainable transport is explored in several Good Practices of the projects analysed in this report.

Policy recommendations

Thanks to the large variety of situations encountered and players involved in the projects analysed, it has been possible to define some policy recommendations for regional transport policymakers:

  • Policymakers’ consideration for sustainable transport at the regional level is part of a continent-wide trend. Do not attempt to reinvent the wheel. Copy-paste successful solutions where possible. But, at the policy level, good practice examples should inspire and support genuine local learning processes.
  • Provide an integrated approach to transport: In the planning and operational stages, consider all modes of transport. Go beyond the conventional public transport systems, look into walking and cycling, shared modes and pay special attention to other critical components of the transport system such as, for instance, urban goods distribution
  • ‘Think locally, act globally: learning from good practices is only possible if you are aware of your region's specific needs and opportunities. A truly effective overall regional sustainable transport policy will draw inspiration and technologies from many sources and assemble them into a unique local blend.
  • Fully include a regional transport authority in any land-use planning processes. Transport operators have to evolve in the context of evolving cities. If they are included in land use planning processes, which provide the framework for urban development, they can better understand and anticipate the evolution of the city. There are numerous players involved in the design of transport systems. They do not all have common or identical objectives and to not automatically produce the intended outcome (sustainability), so it is important to include them in planning processes.
  • Build on people's own close involvement in any aspects pertaining to their own mobility. Transport is a daily challenge for people and businesses. They will adopt sustainable transport if it provides effective solutions that are pleasant, easy-to-use, and reasonably priced.
  • Sometimes, new services and practices need start-up finance and promotion to get off the ground. In the long run, they must be economically sound. Therefore, when supporting a pilot project, always think of ways to repeat and up-scale the project if it turns out to be a real success.
  • Ultimately, budgets are the measure of all policy: do not expect to build a sustainable transport system if the larger part of the budget is attributed to car-oriented infrastructure.

As of 31 December 2015, this website is no longer updated. Follow news on interregional cooperation at www.interregeurope.eu