Catch-Mr: Cooperative approaches to transport challenges in metropolitan regions

The efficient, reliable and sustainable delivery of transport constitutes a central requirement for economic growth. This is especially true for metropolitan regions, as these are main forces driving economic development. These regions are central nodes for local, regional and international mobility, and need to cope with rising passenger volumes.

Managing these expanding streams within a proper transport system is no easy task. Mobility systems require considerable investment, and the growth of this sector needs to achieved in such a way as to minimise environmental impacts and maximise the share of eco-friendly transport modes. Additionally, processes of demographic change prompt governments to develop transport services considering the needs of elderly people.

 

Issue: sharing good practices in sustainable transport

CATCH-MR (Cooperative Approaches to Transport Challenges in Metropolitan Regions) is an INTERREG IVC project running from January 2010 until December 2012, with a total budget of €2 million.

In order better to face the challenges described above, twelve partners from seven metropolitan regions are cooperating through CATCH-MR:

 

  • The City of Oslo and Akershus County Council (Norway);
  • The Göteborg Region Association of Local Authorities (Sweden);
  • The Joint Spatial Planning Department of Berlin-Brandenburg (Germany, Lead Partner);
  • The City of Vienna and the Provincial Administration of Lower Austria (Austria);
  • The Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region and the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Slovenia);
  • The Municipality of Budapest and the Budapest Transport Association (Hungary);
  • The Province of Rome and the Business Innovation Centre (BIC) Lazio (Italy).

 

Approach: viewing mobility issues from three different angles

These twelve partners have chosen to develop an integrated view on sustainable transport solutions. Past projects have generally been focussed on a single aspect of transport, or have been carried out from a single thematic perspective. Instead, the results of CATCH-MR are being developed in three progressive steps:

 

  1. The reduction of transport demand: reducing the need for transport within metropolitan regions through the better coordination of land use and transport planning/policies;
  2. The reallocation of traffic: increasing the provision and use of public transport; and
  3. Increasing the use of renewable energies in transport.

 

The way to develop this integrated approach is in line with the central notion of the INTERREG IVC programme. This fund aims to help the regions of Europe to work together to share experience and good practices, so that additional knowledge and potential solutions are introduced into the problem-solving strategies of policymakers.

 

Results: developing a guide on efficient mobility and sustainable growth in metropolitan regions

The project partners aim to improve competitiveness and the quality of life in metropolitan regions. The core activities of the project comprise seven thematic workshops, covering the following topics:

Transport and land-use planning
1. Achieving new planning solutions
2. Understanding urban spraw
Encouraging the use of public transport
3. Intermodality, park&ride, transport associations, rail as part of urban mobility
4. Public transport priority, parking policy, road charging, financing public transport
Renewable energy in transport
5. Affordable technologies
6. Developing the infrastructure
Connecting regional and local transport policy
7. Funding, governance and implementation

The final results of the CATCH-MR project will be published in the “Guide on efficient mobility and sustainable growth in metropolitan regions”. This guide will be open for use by all, and will contain practical examples as well as policy recommendations which are transferable to other metropolitan regions.

 

Influence Cohesion Policy: new projects based on lessons learned

Cohesion Policy has been the central driver facilitating this three-year, well-structured cooperation between the twelve partners in this project. As one of the partners explained, this possibility offered through INTERREG is highly valued in practice: “Especially metropolitan regions, as motors of economic development, face immense challenges in mobility planning – particularly when taking economic, ecologic and demographic aspects equally into account. In order to find optimal solutions, international knowledge exchange plays a crucial role. Each city can contribute their own know-how, while benefitting from the experiences of other metropolitan regions”.

 

In Budapest specifically, the opportunity to discuss bottlenecks and good practices is an important sounding board for preparing new developments in the city. An interesting development in this light is the city bike system which has been launched in Budapest. The setting up of this “BuBi” bikesharing system was based on lessons learned through this INTERREG IVC project. The system includes 73 docking stations city wide, from which bicycles can be rented on a self-service basis.

 

Furthermore, the Kőki intermodal node is currently under development; this is a node where passengers can change between tram, train, bus and car use. Beside this hub a new shopping mall is being build, and input from the project will serve to make this node more passenger friendly.

 

 

Integrated Development: getting to grips with interactions between land use and transport planning

The thematic workshops that are being organised in each metropolitan region are important tools. During these meetings, all partners present and discuss positive and negative developments in their area relating to a specific topic of one of the workshops. The presentations provided all partners with detailed information on the way many issues, such as P+R facilities or transport organisations, are organised in other places.

 

Within Budapest, the exchange of knowledge and experience inspired project managers to approach developments in a more integrated fashion. In particular relations between land-use planning and transport planning are being explored more thoroughly, and their respective logics will be integrated in future developments. Budapest itself inputted a lot of information on do’s & don’ts in the field of Park + Ride facilities and the influence of political heritage on the current local transport system.

Spin-offs: a political recommendation on directions for future transport planning

One of the motivations of Budapest in joining CATCH-MR is to develop a new infrastructural project based on all the information and good and bad practices gained through the INTERREG IVC project. The outlines of this project have not been sketched, but results from CATCH-MR will support a political recommendation which will summarise the most important policy directions to political decision makers. On the basis of these recommendations new projects will be developed.

 

Lessons learned: although differences between cities exist, many practical tips can be shared

An issue that emerged from the exchange of knowledge and experience was that problems in Budapest are sometimes on a different level from problems in other cities. For instance, one of the sub-topics relates to using (more) renewable energy in transport. Given the problems that are being experienced in Budapest in running the bus fleet, this specific topic is unfortunately a bridge too far. Even so, as CATCH-MR consists also of several other matters the City of Budapest still benefits from many other inputs in very practical ways, for instance in the Kőki and BuBi developments.

 


This text relies on helpful comments of Veronika Szemere, Municipality of the City of Budapest.