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We are experiencing a boom in mobility plans

7. November 2018

Information has been coming out ever more frequently in the media recently about newly created strategic plans for sustainable urban mobility. Most recently in September, Prague representatives discussed the concept for the Sustainable Mobility Plan for Prague and Surroundings. 

 

And what other cities have also drawn up their mobility plans or a more general form of a strategic framework?

 

Mobility plans

A sustainable mobility plan can be understood most simply as a set of measures aiming to improve urban transport and meeting the demand for mobility in the long-term. Such plans also include an action programme that lays out a timeline for when individual measures will be implemented.

While a SUMP (Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan) covers urban mobility in a comprehensive sense, a SUMF (Sustainable Urban Mobility Framework) focuses on a plan for public transport service in cities. The SUMP is more important for obtaining an EU subsidies. Which cities have already approved a SUMP and which a SUMF? This is decided by the Commission for Assessing Urban Mobility Documents at the Czech Ministry of Transport. Though there is no legal obligation to draw up a SUMP/SUMF in the Czech legislation, if a municipality is considering making use of subsidies from EU funds, it must draft a SUMP/SUMF if it contains 50 000 inhabitants or more. Naturally there are also dozens of cases where municipalities have drafted a mobility plan, but because they are not planning on utilising European funds, they do not submit them to the aforementioned commission.

 

SUMP or SUMF?

Aside from assessing individual plans, the commission's role is also establishing the standards for what plans should look like. For this end it makes use of the methodology of the Transport Research Centre. The commission members certainly do not see their mission as assuming a hard line and strictly rejecting sub-par plans, but rather in helping out and using examples of best practice to show submitters how to properly adjust the plan so that it can be approved.

Although the topic of mobility plans first began to turn up after 2013, the first sustainable mobility plan that the commission assessed was the Plzeň SUMP, at the start of 2017. Plans were later submitted by Ostrava, Olomouc and Brno. The commission verified all of them. Other cities will soon submit their plans. It should be mentioned that the Plzeň and Ostrava SUMPs are very well prepared documents that have set a high bar of expectations for other plans. At the end of October the commission carried out an assessment of the Prague SUMP, with the responsible parties – including the new political representatives – to be informed of the results of this assessment over the course of November.

Aside from evaluating mobility plans, the commission also deals with the approval of strategic frameworks, i.e. SUMFs. Some documents are deliberately drawn up in this format, while others have higher ambitions but do not comply with the methodology for SUMPs and thus end up being approved as SUMFs. This is the case of the mobility plan for the city of Jihlava. The cities that have submitted a SUMF and had it approved include Liberec, Zlín, Pardubice and Hradec Králové.

 

Is there a comparison of mobility plans?

It is essentially impossible to compare plans. The plans are general in nature and react to the individual requirements for developing mobility in the given municipality or locale. If the drafter fails to take this into account, the commission could take a negative stance on it.

The fact that the individual SUMPs produced in the Czech Republic are of good quality is also indicated by the interest and recognition from abroad. At the 5th European Conference on SUMP, which took place in 2018 in Nicosia, Cyprus, the foreign delegates expressed an interest in the Czech manner of commission verification, and how it sets up the evaluation criteria. We can be pleased with the fact that although other European countries have longer experience with creating plans, some coming out after the year 2000, we rank in the upper half in terms of quality.

 

Superiority of the Prague SUMP

Although we stated that mobility plans are nearly impossible to compare, there is one perspective that can be measured – their creation process. For Prague's SUMP we can particularly highlight the part of expert-level discussions, which was overseen very well. Experts from JASPERS were also involved in the process, which was not the case for other plans. They provided for professional supervision in accordance with the methodology and examples of best practice.

All that can be done now is trust that all this effort will soon lead to approval of the final Sustainable Mobility Plan for Prague and Surroundings. Given the size of the metropolis and the differing goals of the political parties in the city government that is to approve the plan, it is of utmost importance to find a broad consensus, which will not be an easy matter.

This interesting information was shared with us by Michal Ulrich, employee of the EU Fund Department at the Czech Ministry of Transport and also Secretary of the Commission for Assessing Urban Mobility Documents. We hereby extend our thanks.