The Commission notes that "research projects have a major impact on urban transport policy" and "urban mobility could benefit from integrating several policy sectors, such as urban planning, economic and social affairs, transport, etc."
Luisa Prista, the head of the Commission's DG Research Surface Transport Unit, believes more cooperation is necessary between EU and national research authorities: "We have to be prepared to consider new forms of partnership and new forms of research governance with shared responsibility, for example linking FP7 funding with regional and national funds." However, she added: "The future is in front of us with clear research priorities on climate change and on urban mobility, but research cannot solve all problems. A more fundamental cultural change may also be necessary."
In an own-initiative report on sustainable transport, the European Parliament calls on member states to invest more in research in the field of energy-efficient and CO2-emission-reducing technologies for transport. It further asks the Commission to significantly increase overall financing for environment, energy and transport R&D when it carries out the mid-term review of its multi-annual financial framework in 2009.
The International Association for Public Transport (UITP) notes that "only the EU can efficiently tackle the problems of legal harmonisation, standardisation and interoperability". The association believes that the fact that current transport research advisory bodies (ERTRAC, ERRAC, etc.) are "modal platforms" is preventing Europe from finding innovative solutions to urban mobility problems. These Technology Platforms "can represent only to a limited extent a multimodal integral approach," it points out, saying they should link a broader range of stakeholders, including city planners. "Urban matters are in many cases very specific and cannot be compared with long-distance transport," it notably points out.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which represents professionals involved in land, property and construction, agrees that research should take better account of the relationship between transport and the urban environment. It notably calls for more research into the relationship between public transport service provision, traffic flows and population density. Freight transport and the organisation of supply chains is also a key topic where more research is needed, it adds. "This does not only count for commercial freight transport, but also private 'freight' transport, for example doing groceries. Whilst numbers differ, it is clear that a huge part of the CO2 is emitted in the last kilometre to and from homes. Supply chains do not only need to be as economically efficient as possible, but also as environmentally efficient," it notes.
According to City Logistics, which organises an annual fair focusing on urban distribution and the "last mile" in the logistics chain, heavily urbanised and congested city centres in Europe are in need of intelligent, efficacious and environmental logistics proposals and solutions. "50% of goods are transported less than 50 kilometres, almost never in a full load," it points out, adding that the rationalisation of this segment of logistics through improved research would be "decisive both in terms of business competitiveness, by lowering transport costs, and in terms of environmental protection both on the regional and global level, by reducing traffic and pollution". The "urban issue must be confronted as a whole," it stresses, including aspects related to street furniture, car parks, road signs, planning, management and control of traffic, and public transport.
The European Conference of Transport Research Institutes (ECTRI) stresses the importance of getting existing Technology Platforms more involved in the field of urban mobility, especially public transport. In its response to the Commission's Green Paper on Urban Mobility, it notes its "satisfaction" that research on urban mobility has been acknowledged as an important instrument and calls on the Commission to include a specific chapter on urban mobility research in its upcoming Action Plan for urban mobility.
"The European Commission […] has a very important role to play in the future of research in the field of urban mobility. The possible calls for proposals to be launched during the FP7 on this issue are therefore of tremendous importance," he said, highlighting the integration of transport systems with urban planning as a priority area. "Travel demand is to a great extent determined by urban structure […] The number of trips is conditioned by land use and spatial separation. In addition, the way in which these trips are made (modal choice) is influenced by urban structure," ECTRI points out. The link between urban planning, housing policy and mobility policy therefore requires further research in order to better understand how urban structure can promote more sustainable mobility patterns, reduced energy consumption and higher social equity, it concludes.
Green NGO Transport and Environment (T&E) has called for the establishment of a European platform for best practice exchange and research with regard to community travel planning, including networks of local and regional authorities, public transport companies, employers, schools, hospitals and other facilities.