International Association of Public Transport (UITP) welcomes G20 recognition of public transport

26 June 2012  •  Source: International Association for Public Transport (UITP)

Following the annual G20 meeting in Mexico, where for the first time urban public transport was specifically mentioned, the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) reiterates its stance that a commitment to, and investment in, public transport is crucial to achieving sustainable development.

With the world’s urban population set to rise to 4.5 billion in 2025 from 3.2 billion in 2005, efficient urban mobility and adequate urban public transport infrastructure are critical to helping achieving sustainable, green growth.

The number of trips made in urban areas every day will increase by 50% between 2005 and 2025, reflecting not only the growth in urban population but also the increase in the number of trips made by each citizen, mainly in developing economies.

If current trends prevail, the most notable change in urban transport patterns between 2005 and 2025 will be the shift from walking and cycling to private motorised vehicles, driven by fast economic development notably in Asian countries, with the associated economic and environmental costs. Urban congestion will gridlock cities whilst energy consumption and greenhouse gases will increase by 30%, endangering not only the climate but bringing green growth to a halt.

Cities are the powerhouses of the economy. They concentrate 80% of the world economic output. Efficient mobility in cities creates economic opportunities and social integration, enables trade, and facilitates access to markets and services. Fast urban population growth – associated with urban sprawl – generates more and longer daily trips in cities, exerting significant pressure on transport infrastructure and natural resources, particularly in emerging economies.

  2005 2025 % change
OECD countries 2.6 2.9 +12%
Non OECD countries 4.9 8.6 +75%
World 7.5 11.5 +53%

Table 1: daily trips in cities (billions) Source: UITP

Boosting economic growth and jobs through public transport

A modal shift from private motorized modes to public transport (which emits 3.5 times less greenhouse gas per passenger per km) will help to reconcile economic and environmental policy priorities: the very definition of green growth.

Research into transport investment as part of the recovery plan in the USA in 2009 provides evidence that investing in public transport produces twice as many jobs per dollar as investing in roads. The UITP’s strategy to double the market share of public transport by 2025 (PTx2) would double the number of jobs in operators alone to 14 million (even accounting for productivity gains).

“Public transport not only contributes directly to the competitiveness of the global economy, but it is a large industry in itself, providing around 13 million jobs worldwide in operation, regulation, and supply of goods and services,” said UITP Secretary General, Alain Flausch. “In many cities, like Paris, Barcelona or Amsterdam, the local public transport operator is one of the largest employers. By linking employers and their workforce or retailers and their customers, public transport generates business activity and boosts urban productivity.”

Saving energy resources

The growth in urban transport energy consumption can be decoupled from the growth in mobility if the market share of public transport is doubled by 2025. Such a stabilisation of urban transport energy consumption would be beneficial for oil importing countries, of course, but also for oil exporting countries, as the domestic oil consumption is usually heavily subsidised.

Delivering sustainable, green growth

Taking up these different challenges will require a combination of the following ingredients: matching services with lifestyle expectations, developing a new business culture, securing adequate and stable funding, integrating public transport with other urban policies, and implementing demand management strategies.

Doubling the market share of public transport worldwide is not a utopia. In all regions, some cities have already achieved the modal split objective set out for their region, thanks to a long-term commitment to public transport. UITP welcomes, therefore, the call of G20 leaders to finance ministers to foster investment in infrastructure and urges that the priority is given to the development of urban public transport.

To find out more about UITP’s PTx2 strategy, please visit:

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