During the last EPF General Meeting on 16.1.2021, DG Move presented the key points of the Smart & Sustainable Mobility Strategy.
During the discussion of all present representatives of the EPF member federations there was agreement that the question of CO2 neutrality was well elaborated in the strategy and that the paths to achieve this goal are sensibly described. EPF endorsed the direction of the Smart & Sustainable Mobility Strategy. In particular, we welcomed the Commission’s determination to overcome the obstacles to through ticketing; to facilitate the planning and provision of multimodal journeys; and to aim for a simplified and consistent framework for passenger rights covering all modes. However, from EPF’s point of view two essential aspects of the transport sector are missing.
First, EPF is concerned that insufficient attention is given to solving the challenge of congestion. The Staff Working Document notes in paragraph 39 that congestion costs from transport are expected to increase by one third by 2050 compared to 2015. The Impact Assessment SEC (2011) 358 carried out in connection with the 2011 White Paper reported in paragraph 60 that these were projected to increase to nearly €200 billion annually, a particularly huge burden when put in current prices, and one that is thought likely to grow further. Road journeys are likely to become more frequent and longer as costs become lower with improvements in vehicle efficiency and electric vehicles, with a consequent increase in congestion. EPF considers that public transport has a vital role to play in limiting this burden which will fall particularly heavily on the efficiency and social quality of agglomerations. and inter-urban corridors.
Secondly, EPF regrets that the strategy pays insufficient attention to the need to offset the impact of road and air transport on public health. The European Environment Agency continues to remind us that particulate emission – much of which is attributable to non-exhaust road transport emissions (break, tyre and road surface wear) – is a major cause of premature death and disease and, in the view of the EEA, is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe. It estimates that, in 2018, approximately 379 000 premature deaths were attributable to PM2.5 in the 27 EU Member States and the United Kingdom – more than fifteen times the number killed in road traffic accidents. These emissions will not go away with the spread of e-vehicles; non-exhaust emissions will remain a major challenge to public health. The EEA’s estimates show that fine particulate matter (PM2.5) continues to cause the most substantial health impacts (Air quality in Europe, EEA, 2020). Finally EPF considers that public transport has an important part to play in obviating this carnage. The Commission should give this greater recognition.
EPF will continue to play an active role in addressing these issues. Discussions with the Commission on this are planned.