Transport authorities for metropolitan areas: The benefits and options in times of change

Transport authorities for metropolitan areas report cover
Executive summary

This report sets out the many benefits of metropolitan areas establishing empowered transport authorities and provides a guide to the issues and options for those areas who are considering setting one up.

Written by Urban Transport Group Director, Jonathan Bray for the global public transport body, UITP, the report shows how transport authorities have been able to address complex challenges and make trade-offs with finite resources and in the context of serving urban areas which are dynamic and constantly evolving.

This includes how they can strike the right balance between:

  • spending available resources on maintaining existing infrastructure and expanding that infrastructure
  • facilitating different types of journeys made by different types of people
  • funding raised from the users of public transport networks and funding raised from taxation and by other means
  • competition and regulating in the public interest.

Although no one size fits all, and all governance is fluid, I strongly believe that transport authorities are a key building block for a better future for metropolitan areas.

Jonathan Bray
Director, Urban Transport Group
Bogota, Columbia
Bogotá, Columbia

The report also identifies four key contemporary challenges for urban transport governance. These are:

  • making timely decisions on how best to reduce carbon emissions whilst improving climate resilience
  • realising the consumer benefits of new technologies, new mobility formats and business models whilst at the same time protecting the wider public interest
  • balancing the need to improve the quality of place with providing access to those places
  • ensuring that transport authority governance reflects the full diversity of the places it serves in the way it works and in the decisions it takes.

Public transport will be vital to the recovery of the economy and society in a post-COVID 19 world and in combatting climate change. However, these objectives will not be possible without the planning and organisation of strong transport and mobility authorities. They are key in ensuring that public transport services are provided with public policy goals in mind whilst also considering citizens’ expectation.

Mohamed Mezghani
Secretary General of UITP
Mohamed Mezghani, UITP, and Jonathan Bray, Urban Transport Group, at the launch of the report in Paris
Mohamed Mezghani, UITP, and Jonathan Bray, Urban Transport Group, at the launch of the report in Paris. Photo by: Pierre-Olivier Tulkens

The report concludes:

“Around the world, transport authorities in all their different guises have both kept metropolitan areas moving day in and day out whilst at the same time always looking to the future as to how they can improve the service they provide and how they can best respond to the constant churn of social, economic and environmental change. In doing this, they seek to serve the wider public interest whilst making difficult choices as to what priorities to pursue and how they are to be funded. Based on their achievements already and the complex challenges that 21st century metropolitan areas face, the case for transport authorities for metropolitan areas is stronger than ever, especially given the key role they will need to play in meeting the global challenge of climate change.”

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