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23 Feb, 2013

European Bid to Double Public Road Transport, Coach Tourism in 10 Years


Brussels, 22 February 2013 – The EU public-private Smart Move High Level Group (HLG) met yesterday to finalise its policy recommendations for EU public and private stakeholders and policy decision makers.

The group’s recommendations focus on short, medium and long term policies, suggesting a realistic road map for decision makers on how to double the use of collective passenger transport by road in the EU within 10 years. They take into account all the contributions that have been received covering the three topics of the group’s focus – namely inter-city and long distance regular bus and coach services; group tourism by coach; and commuting, urban mobility and taxis.

Yves Mannaerts, IRU Vice President and President of the IRU Passenger Transport Council (CTP), said “The High Level Group is the first of its kind public-private group that has come together, with the support of the European Institutions, to articulate policy recommendations that will double the use of collective road transport within 10 years. We must build on these recommendations and work together to ensure that they are fully implemented. This is in the interest of not just our industry, but European citizens and society as a whole”.

The HLG adopted a common vision on the role and place of buses, coaches and taxis in the multimodal mobility chain, as the viable alternative to the private car. It has also proposed that the objective of doubling the use of collective passenger transport by road within 10 years become a formal EU policy objective. The 15 sets of concrete proposals made by the HLG range from enabling efficient, transparent EU cooperation and guidelines for city access restrictions and Low Emission Zones, to the establishment of a ‘zero rate’ VAT for collective passenger land transport, and the creation of a permanent EU platform to promote the use of collective passenger transport.

Mr Mannaerts concluded “This High Level Group should act as a model for other countries and regions, including individual EU Member States, in formulating their own policies to increase the use of collective passenger transport by road and achieve sustainable mobility for all at the lowest cost to society”.

The HLG will finalise its work with a public event to take place in the European Parliament on 15 May 2013.

Buses and taxis are the largest commercial passenger transport service providers in both urban and rural areas in Europe. Due to their unparalleled flexibility, they are the closest complement, competitor, and substitute of the private car, with 97% of all individual movements of European citizens below 100 kilometres.

As such, buses and taxis together constitute the backbone of the public mobility chain. They complement and empower other commercial transport modes 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and can therefore contribute more than any other commercial passenger transport mode to achieving the extremely ambitious objectives of the EU transport policy.

Only by placing buses and taxis at the heart of the policy debate and by setting a clear policy and business target to double their use in the next 10 years can European, national and city policy-makers at all levels create a legislative, market and operational environment conducive to encourage people to change their mobility behaviours. Such a shift would result in a socially inclusive, efficient and sustainable mobility solution for all European citizens and visitors, at the lowest cost for society.

The change in customer behaviour and policy focus can help unlock the full mobility and customer care potential of the private bus and taxi industry, while helping Europe catch up with other regions of the world in implementing novel and highly customer-focused mobility concepts and technologies, such as Bus Rapid Transit.

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