Coimbra, former capital of Portugal in the 12th century, can look back at a history of a thousand years during which the city has accumulated countless artistic treasures. The wealth of the city mostly stems from one of the world’s oldest universities, the University of Coimbra that has about 23,000 students. Together with other institutions for higher education, the city is home to 35,000 students. The city of Coimbra always played an important role in the national context that is currently emphasised by the development of communications and transport infrastructure. Coimbra’s education and health sectors, as well as regional public administration offices attract many people from different areas of the country to the city and contribute to the city’s steady growth. Its accessibility is therefore crucial.
A stark trend is more and more car traffic at the expense of other means of transport. This has led to severe traffic jams, a lack of parking spaces, and fewer passengers in public transport. Mobility conditions are hence deteriorating, urban spaces become less attractive and quality of life in the city is adversely affected. The city of Coimbra has developed strategies to boost sustainable mobility options and cut back on car traffic.
Coimbra has already made efforts to improve the public transport system and provide incentives for more sustainable modes of transport. Some of the measures implemented include restricting car access to some parts of the city centre through virtual “gates” with a traffic lights system that can control traffic passing through in real time, ensure that capacity is never surpassed, and give priority to the most efficient modes of transport.
Coimbra sees CIVITAS MODERN as an excellent opportunity to step up its sustainable urban transport efforts and exchange experiences and good practice with likeminded European cities. A set of integrated interventions has been designed as part of MODERN to increase the quality and effectiveness of public transport, attract more users and reduce traffic from private cars.
Coimbra wants to make public transport “smarter”, more accessible and safer. An integrated ticketing system, mobility management actions and better information services are expected to lead to a 4-5 percent increase in public transport passengers within the project period. Information services will be improved through the installation of a real-time system based on GPS. Coimbra aims to increase energy efficiency of the public transport fleet through the use of biodiesel and electric energy that will be produced locally. The urban trolleybus lines are to be powered by renewable energy. Moreover, training drivers in the use of innovative systems is anticipated to enhance the safety of the public transport system through a reduction in accidents by at least 5 percent during the duration of the project.
Additionally, Coimbra wants to explore the possibility to set up the first car-sharing service in Portugal. Better Park & Ride offers are expected to result in 3 percent more usage. The city places high importance on the diffusion of a culture of sustainable mobility. Information and promotion activities will specifically target younger generations.