The city of Örebro with approximately 107,000 inhabitants, was one of the cities included in the BUSTRIP project. When the city began the initial steps of the sustainable urban mobility planning process, the understanding of sustainable transport was not strong in Örebro. In many public authorities, the personnel and skills required to undertake a SUMP is often spread over many departments that have had no previous experience of working together. The idea may be often unusual for the key stakeholders but it is necessary to achieve a successful high quality sustainable urban mobility plan.
In order to change the situation, the city used various measures, one of which was a capacity-building assessment which was carried out in a working group as part of the self-assessment, identifying the knowledge gaps among the employees. The outcome was that, whilst the municipality had a good detailed knowledge of transport-related issues, there was no history of this knowledge being integrated to create a sustainable urban mobility plan.
“For many professionals a more holistic way of thinking can be a bit of a revolution,” says Per Elvingson, who started as a process manager for sustainable transport soon after the assessment.
To facilitate the implementation of sustainable urban transport, a special unit – also responsible for raising awareness among employees and politicians – was set up. The unit has, among other things, planned seminars focusing on the reduced need for cars through spatial planning.
In general, a new way of thinking was the key. It was established, especially among key persons, to make the process more powerful. An important part of capacity building has been getting all key staff to agree on a common analysis of the current situation. In this respect, the SUMP template has been a very good tool.
Meanwhile, it is important to look around at what others are doing beyond municipal borders. It is very important to provide decision-makers with practical, good examples that have already been tested. International cooperation has become more important in this process. Over the past few years, Örebro has focused on exchanging experiences. Study visits are an important part of that work. “On a national level, we are trying to build up an informal network for sustainable transport among cities of our own size in the region,” Elvingson says.
For many the SUMP process requires a new way of thinking. Previous transport plans revolved around the car and road dependent, but with a SUMP, there has been a shift towards using more sustainable terms such as ‘intermodality’, ‘modal shift’ and ‘mobility management’. This change in thinking can often leave skills gaps within a local authority or, as in the example of Örebro shows us, a lack of integration between them. Thus it is one of the many challenges the Local Authorities need to overcome in the sustainable urban mobility planning process.
Photo: City of Örebro/BUSTRIP Project