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Beja

Beja is a city of 21,660 inhabitants, located in Beja Municipality in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The city’s history stretches back to Roman times, when it was a regional capital under Julius Caesar. City is famous of one of its mobility measures, the so called Collective Taxis; a system that works well.

In 1998, the modal split of Beja was 47 percent private cars; 17 percent public transport; 35 percent pedestrians; and 1 percent taxis. Recent years have seen a change in mobility patterns, particularly in urban areas. In high-density central areas the number of private cars has risen, with negative impacts on circulation and parking. The municipality of Beja is working to reduce the number of vehicles, especially in the old city center, and to make public transport an attractive alternative.

An urban mobility plan was developed in 1998. Measures implemented in order to improve the quality of public transportation services include one-way streets; traffic calming and reserved parking spaces in residential areas; limited delivery times for lorries within the historic city center; speed restrictions; underground parking; and higher parking fees in the city center with compensation for residents.

The city is participating in a “collective taxis” project, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, the association of taxi companies and private firms. Collective taxis, for the use of passengers with reduced mobility, operate in a similar way to buses, with fixed routes and stops.

In order to promote the benefits of cycling, which is not currently well-developed in Portugal, the city authority has decided to purchase a number of bicycles for a public bicycle scheme. Other projects have also been implemented, for example expanding pedestrian zones; adapting street crossings for people with reduced mobility; and raising awareness of sustainable mobility among schoolchildren. In each project there has been an emphasis on information and communication, and on the dissemination of results.

Future plans include innovative measures such as the introduction of electric vehicles; raised bus stops for easier access by people with reduced mobility, including wheelchair users; low-floor vehicles; and an expanded cycle network.

Summary finalized: July 2010

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