Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fare free mobility growing in Europe

Free public transport discussed in Brussels

Brussels networking seminar
Free Public Transport networking seminar with 20 participants was held in Tallinn EU Office in Brussels on December 6, 2012. 

Seminar gathered free public transport cities Aubagne, Hasselt and Tallinn; representatives from  Brussels STIB and regional offices of Ile-de-France, Tuscany, East-Sweden and Baden-Würtenberg; institutions like POLIS, UBC transport commission and National Technical University of Athens. 

The presentations covered wide spectrum of  ideological aspects, socio-economical features, best practices of implementation and cooperation prospects between European free public transport cities.
It was noted:
1. Tallinn, Aubagne and Hasselt will proceed with formation of Free Public Transport European Network.
2. Hasselt participates in Eurotowns Mobility Task Team seminar January in Kortrijk to promote free public transport as potential issue for research project. Tallinn considers participating in the meeting.
3.  Aubagne considers to host Free Public Transport Cities meeting during the first quarter of 2013, mostly targeting French cities, but also Torrevieja, Tallinn and Hasselt will be invited.
4. Tallinn drafts a Questionaire for Free Public Transport Cities to map the profiles and to provide an instrument for strengthening contacts between FPT cities. Aubagne and Hasselt will comment the draft.
5. Aubagne, Tallinn and Hasselt confirmed their interest to initiate project cooperation with other networks and institutions - POLIS, KTH, ERRIN, UBC etc.
6. UBC Transport Commission confirmed their interest to hold in a joint meeting in Tallinn of UBC Energy, Environment and Transport Commissions in April 2013 around the topic of free public transport. 
Chair of the seminar
Allan Alaküla, Head of Tallinn EU Office,

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Most effective means" of confronting traffic congestion

Residents enjoy free public transport.


On 1 January 2013, Tallinn, Estona, became the largest European city and the first European capital to provide free public transport to its residents. 

The initial results of the move are encouraging: the use of public transport in Tallinn has already increased by 10% while traffic in city centre has reduced by 15%.
Many major cities are seeking ways to reduce traffic levels in the city centre, turning to measures such as congestion charges or building new roads. However, the Estonian capital decided that offering free public transport to its 423,000 residents would be the most effective means of confronting the challenge.

The city council was already subsidising 70% of the costs of public transport, but this new initiative is adding a further €12 million to the city’s annual transport expenditure. The city will get some of the money back though, with the national government offering a bonus of around €1 million for every 1,000 residents registering (by way of personal income tax).

Almost 8,000 additional residents have already registered, and Tallinn estimates that these registrations already have a significant impact on its tax base.

In addition to providing mobility to unemployed and low-income residents, free public transport has brought new passenger groups into the city centre in the evenings and weekends. This will boost the local economy, as these residents are likely to spend their free time and money consuming local goods and services.

To cope with the new demand, Tallinn has invested in 70 new buses and 15 new trams. It has also put into place a series of deterrents to private car use, including expansion of exclusive bus lanes barred for private vehicles and increased parking charges and expanded paid parking area.

Residents have welcomed the scheme, with a vote revealing 75% of the city’s population supports the initiative.

One resident explains:
“Free public transport is good. People will have more possibilities to travel around and if it improves city traffic, then I’m all for it!”

So far, the largest European city to introduce free public transport was the Aubagne urban district in southern France, home to some 100,000 inhabitants. (Also Hasselt city in Belgium. Ed)

Some Tallinn residents are concerned as to whether the city will be able to maintain the quality of the network, but it has certainly proven popular so far!

Find out more and view a video on the initiative here:

Posted 18/02/13 on EuroCities website:   

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Peak Oil News Alert


New Zealand should prepare urgently for coming oil shortages

General Ideas  
New Zealand should prepare urgently for coming oil shortages.
It may be a very serious mistake to assume that oil will continue to be readily available, Bruce Robinson a Peak Oil expert said today.

Trouble in the Middle East, such as Iran being bombed, might cause a sudden world oil shortage, as 20% of the world’s oil is shipped from the Persian Gulf, through the narrow Strait of Hormuz.
As well, global oil shortages are likely, perhaps within 5 years. Existing giant oilfields are now declining faster than new fields are being discovered. Peak Oil will cause substantial disruptions to automobile dependent countries. The on-going hype in the US and now in Australia about shale oil is unlikely to change the overall picture.

Mr. Robinson is Convenor of ASPO-Australia, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, and vice-president of ASPO-International.

He said a major opportunity for NZ was the proposed national transport SmartCard, which should also include provision for petrol rationing and public transport rationing, to prepare for the risk of fuel shortages. Petrol rationing should allocate scarce fuel efficiently and equitably. Rationing by price would cripple farming communities, for example. An electronic card-based system is the only transparent way of allowing people with different needs, such health problems or a crucial job, to have access to fuel ahead of people who could easily ride a bike, or catch public transport. If say 25% of motorists wanted to change to public transport, existing bus and train capacity would be overwhelmed, so if fuel rationing is needed, public transport rationing is also required.

Expanding public transport and bicycle facilities and securing and expanding train lines are vital steps. More important is informing people to prepare in case future fuel shortages arrive much sooner than generally expected.

An Australian CSIRO economic modeling Future Fuel Forum in 2008 had a worst case scenario of $8/litre fuel by 2018. Since then the GFC has curbed oil consumption worldwide, but the underlying risk still remains. A suppressed 2009 report by Australia’s Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics estimated, like many other studies, global oil shortages starting in 2017. A valuable research paper “The next oil shock?” was released in October 2010 by the NZ Parliamentary Library, but it has been overlooked by transport planners. The UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security reported “We will face an Oil Crunch in the next five years. We have time to prepare, but the challenge is to use the time well”.

NZ, like Australia, has no separate strategic fuel reserve, and we are assuming the oil tankers will continue to come regularly. International shortages will see tankers diverted elsewhere and we cannot rely on “business-as-usual” planning. Advance preparation will be essential, but “Optimism Bias” is clouding judgements, Mr Robinson said.

New Zealand people prepare for floods and earthquakes, but there is no serious preparation in case fuel shortages happen. There is a great deal that can be done to reduce the impact of future fuel shortages, but preparations need to be started now. Leaving things till a crisis hits will be too late.

Peak Oil News.