In May, an estimated 10,000 public transport professionalswill gather in Geneva, Switzerland, for the World Congress of UITP, the international public transport organisation

Two years after a highly successful Congress in Dubai, the international public transport community will meet again in Geneva for the 60th UITP World Congress and Mobility and City Transport Exhibition.

The choice of the Swiss city as host city for the next World Congress puts both Geneva and Switzerland’s public transport network firmly in the limelight. Switzerland can boast both a long and impressive history of public transport; indeed, in June 2012, the country celebrated the 150th anniversary of what is Europe’s longest-serving tramway in Geneva.

Its railways are of world renown thanks to their reputation for punctuality, synchronised timetables, high quality of service and innovation. In 2017, the Gotthard tunnel, a 57km-long passage through the Alps (bored from 1998 to 2011) and officially the world’s longest railway tunnel, will officially open. Its dense and diversified network of post buses, funiculars, cable cars, boats and integrated urban and suburban public transport systems means that Switzerland is the ideal location to play host to the world’s public transport and sustainable mobility community in 2013.

Transforming urban mobility

Based on well-documented economic and technological development projections and a partnership with the International Energy Agency (IEA), UITP has developed urban mobility scenarios for 2025 which highlight the urgent need for more and better quality public transport. By 2025, 60% of the world’s population will live in urban environments, leading to a 50% increase in urban journeys compared to 2005 levels.

The public transport sector therefore set itself the objective at the 2009 UITP World Congress in Vienna of doubling its market share worldwide by 2025, entailing a tripling of the number of journeys made by public transport and a stabilisation of the use of private cars. This would mean the controlling of greenhouse gas emissions; stabilising urban transport energy consumption; healthier lifestyles; the saving of human lives by safer roads and the creation of seven million new green jobs at public transport operating companies.

One of the main focal points at Geneva will be the ‘i-move 2.0’ concept; in other words, the radical change required in the sector’s business model to meet the ambition of doubling the market share of public transport by 2025. Transforming urban mobility is becoming an urgent necessity: cities with unchallenged car dependency will find themselves losing out in competitiveness, failing to attract people and businesses. Sustainable transport can be delivered by the ‘green alliance’ of public transport, cycling and walking but a radical overhaul is required in order to offer services that are not only convenient, but also fit with people’s lifestyle values.

The development of a healthier business model for the sector – less reliant on scarce public funding – needs to be based on sound financing with all of public transport’s beneficiaries, direct or indirect, contributing towards it. Regulatory aspects of this revolution also need careful consideration too. For example, do all i-move 2.0 services need to be ruled by public service obligations? While the business model for i-move 2.0 has yet to be forged, Geneva will serve as a platform for innovative and collective thinking to help the sector move forwards.

Geneva: the place to be in 2013

It is within this ambitious framework of transforming urban mobility that the Congress and Exhibition will take place, its purpose being to share ideas and offer a platform for idea-sharing and debate. Keynote speeches at the opening ceremony will be given by Dr Joan Clos, executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and Swiss federal councillor Doris Leuthard, head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC.

It is this calibre of speaker that will characterise the events during the course of the congress, with more than 150 speakers from over 30 different countries set to take part, including CEOs, COOs and CFOs of some of the world’s most renowned public transport operators and authorities. UK speakers include Sir Peter Hendy, Transport for London’s commissioner, and Chris Lane, head of passenger information at Centro.

On the agenda is an unrivalled programme of three days of 44 sessions and 150 top speakers coming together for a lively debate, sharing of ideas and an insight into the innovations and developments that will shape the sector in the years to come. Some of the topics include: future business models for integrated urban mobility; combined mobility; the value of marketing and social media; sourcing capital investment; performance evaluation; delivering megaprojects; achieving excellence in public transport HR, knowledge sessions from different regions around the world and much more.

Running alongside this will be the Mobility and City Transport Exhibition. The Geneva Exhibition will feature some 300 exhibitors providing public transport stakeholders with an insight into the latest innovative mobility solutions, products and services. The exhibition continues to attract the key political, operational, technical and commercial decision-makers over the last 34 years, who come from around the world to network, place orders and discuss the issues affecting the sector. The UITP stand will be an opportunity to catch up on all the latest news from the Association.

The expected 10,000 public transport professionals making the trip to Geneva for the exhibition will also benefit from access to the Expo Forums. The Forums provide two dedicated venues where, in seminar sessions, exhibitors will present the most advanced technologies and share their expertise and technological innovations with the Congress delegates and professional visitors.

The final day’s proceedings will be given over to technical visits and offer delegates the opportunity to witness some of the host country’s recent – and ongoing – innovations in the sustainable mobility field. Participants will be offered the chance to see the CEVA (Geneva cross-border commuter railway) construction site, the Lötschberg base tunnel (a mountain summit tunnel concept), Switzerland’s largest rail hub in Zurich and more. To help delegates get around in Switzerland, VÖV-UTP and Swiss Travel Systems will offer delegates (and an accompanying person) a seven-day Swiss pass, enabling free use of the Swiss public transport network.

In challenging economic times and with the sustainable mobility sector needing fresh impetus, the 60th UITP World Congress and Mobility and City Transport Exhibition, will be the ideal opportunity, therefore, for the entire sector to come together in Geneva to exchange best practices and creative ideas in order to push the industry forwards

Rewarding excellence

Following the first edition and in the same spirit as the UITP PTx2 Awards handed over at the Dubai Congress in 2011, the ‘Grow with Public Transport’ Awards will recognise the efforts of mobility stakeholders who are working hard to improve public transport services and boost public transport use through innovation.

The award winners will showcase innovation in several key public transport areas: business models and funding, customer service, integrated mobility, information technology and design. A special award will be handed over to political decision-makers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to growing public transport. The Awards will be presented at the Geneva World Congress in 2013.


This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport. Click here to subscribe – 25% off until the end of this month!