A global plan to double the use of buses and coaches was spotlighted in Dubai today as a key initiative in the drive towards a sustainable transport solution.
Urban planners from across the Middle East and North Africa were told by an International Road Transport Union (IRU) expert that the Smart Move programme now gathering momentum worldwide can bring major environmental benefits, cut road deaths and reduce trafficcongestion.
Addressing the regional training workshop on “Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning”, Oleg Kamberski, the IRU’s Head – Passenger Transport, said the initiative is also aimed at bringing huge economic benefits to communities around the world.
Hosted by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE at the Hyatt Regency Dubai, the three-day event is jointly organised by the IRU, the German International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB).
ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “As an organisation committed to sustainability, we’re very pleased to be playing our part in showcasing an initiative which can do so much to make our roads safer and less congested, and at the same time deliver environmental benefits.”
Kamberski said the Smart Move initiative is based on the principle that buses and coaches “are the safest, most environmentally-friendly, affordable, user-friendly and efficient way to move lots of people from here to there.”
Smart Move says bus and coach are the best all-in-one transport solution for fighting climate change, improving road safety, connecting with other transport modes, supporting social inclusion and reducing congestion on roads, at minimum costs to tax payers.
Launched jointly in 2009 by the IRU and Busworld, which serves as a global platform for the public transport and coach tourism industry, Smart Moveis endorsed by 104 committed partners around the world, including leading industry organisations, vehicle manufacturers and media, as well as thousands of bus or coach operators.
Kamberski said: “We’re spreading the word to politicians, mass media and the public that buses and coaches are the best solution for current mobility challenges facing modern societies, in the hope that appropriate policies and incentives are put in place to support this shift in our mobility behaviours.
“Governments around the world are actively looking for new ways to increase safety on their roads, reduce damage done to the environment and meet their citizens’ needs with the least amount of time and money. But they don’t think of buses and coaches enough when designing their policies.”
The Smart Move initiative has established a High Level Group of European Union road transport professionals, civil servants, politicians and experts to work out policy and business recommendations.
Group calculations suggest that doubling the use of bus and coach services alone, as part of the collective land transport chain, would lead to 1,500 less road fatalities, 40-50 million less tonnes of Co2 emissions and 10-12% less car traffic per year, while creating three million sustainable jobs.
The IRU is looking to enlist urban planning experts from the MENA region to join the Group, which is setting out a long-term action plan on how to double the number of users of collective passenger transport by road, in particular by bus, coach and taxis, in the next 10-15 years.