EU Smart Move High Level Group puts recommendations to EC

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Group calls for use of buses, coaches and taxis to be doubled to help save lives and cut carbon emissions

EUROPE: EU Smart Move High Level Group (HLG) presented recommendations to European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas on doubling the use of buses, coaches and taxis to save lives and cut carbon emissions at a debate last Wednesday (May 15) at the European Parliament and called on the EC to implement these proposals as a formal EU policy objective to be reached by 2025.

The HLG calculated the benefits of doubling the use of bus and coach services. It says it could save 1,500 lives per year, as well as considerably reducing injuries. HLG calculations also show a reduction of CO2 emissions 40 to 50m tonnes per year and a reduction of airborne pollutants; a reduction of congestion in cities resulting from an expected 10-12% fall in car traffic; and the creation of up to 3m new sustainable and green EU jobs.

The HLG proposed 16 measures to achieve the objectives, including creating a permanent EU Smart Move Citizens Mobility Forum to ensure appropriate implementation of the recommendations and propose future actions to be taken.

IRU VP Yves Mannaerts said: “All representatives have agreed upon ambitious yet realistic objectives. This is the only way to develop a sustainable public, financial, fiscal, legislative and operational environment, conducive to the emergence of more and better services, encouraging a shift in travellers’ behaviour across the EU.”

Vice-President of the EC Siim Kallas said: “Buses and coaches belong to the most safe, economically efficient and environmental modes of transport. The EC will maintain an active role in the follow-up initiatives in order to maintain the momentum.”

MEPs also highlighted the importance of the recommendations. Mathieu Grosch (EPP), rapporteur for the 2011 EC Transport White Paper, said: “Buses, coaches and taxis can play an important role in promoting sustainable transport and reducing congestion in cities. The recommendations are a useful tool to give answers to the question of how these aims can be reached.”

Gesine Meißne MEP (ALDE) said: “We have to recognise that group tourism by coach is an important transport sector. We should support it and set the right framework. For some issues, such as suitable dropoff points at tourist attractions, solutions need to be found at a very local level. But there are things which could be done at European level, such as adapting rest and driving times to the operational needs of drivers.”