The narrow capillary roads of Funchal, twisting up through the island city’s steep inclines, seem specifically designed to give urban transport specialists a pounding migraine. However, the five such specialists, representatives from Rijeka (Croatia), Trebic (Czech), Terrassa (Spain) and Warsaw (Poland), who arrived there in mid-November could learn some very original mobility solutions.
The visit was organised by CIVITAS SATELLITE so that Funchal could share its great success in making public transport through this challenging environment the go-to option for citizens and tourists alike.
This comes as no surprise considering that Funchal is one of the most active cities in the CIVITAS network, successfully participating in the CIVITAS MIMOSA project, awarded CIVITAS City of the Year in 2013 and more recently appointed as one of the demonstration sites of the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project, which is coordinated by Horários do Funchal.
Hopes were high from the outset with cities like Terrassa already knowing from experience with CIVITAS that, in the words of Betina Verger, “the knowledge and the skills acquired in this kind of visit are useful for technicians, but also for public administration and other city actors”, and in this respect the Funchal study visit certainly delivered.
For Rijeka, the value of the visit was immediately evident. Lorella Mekić and Neven Vulelija were struck by the “great similarities” between Rijeka and Funchal, right through from the landscape, to the form of the road network, to the distribution of administrative competencies. They were “pleasantly surprised” by the success with which public transport was maintained “on the extremely steep streets”, and this success made them confident that their visit would yield effective solutions.
Warsaw’s Maciej Sadoch also got what he had been looking for. Funchal gets its tourists on board with a special tourist pack giving them all the rout information to top destinations via public transport, as well as special tickets. They managed to develop this at no cost to the city by pairing with a company which sourced its own finances for the initiative. After seeing all of this, Mr Sadoch plainly stated, “I’ve learned how to encourage tourists to use public transport”.
The measures that are currently being developed under CIVITAS DESTINATIONS, are even more innovative. Funchal’s Regional Agency for Research, Technology and Innovation development (ARDITI), for example, will make use of gamification to encourage mobility behaviour shifts through smartphones and apps. They will also use innovative low-cost passengers counting schemes and mobility sensors to better understand the travel patterns of passengers in the island.
Other initiatives, to be implemented by the Regional Agency for Energy and Environment (AREAM) in the framework of CIVITAS DESTINATIONS, include joint procurement of electric vehicles and the development of information systems to support electric mobility management, monitoring and regulation.
For Trebic’s Aleš Kratina, the most useful part of the trip was the chance to inspect the Horarios do Funchal’s public transport fleet, getting a first-hand look at the various types of technology and assessing their relative advantages for his own city’s context.
As much as the vehicles themselves, however, Funchal’s smart use of financing was also a striking solution on show: Funchal innovatively combined the H2020 and ERDF funds to increase the scope and impact of its sustainable mobility initiatives in the CIVITAS MIMOSA project.
Experiences like this are at the core of CIVITAS SATELLITE. Through an intensive knowledge sharing visit of only a few days, cities can save months of guesswork or trial and error, simply by seeing what works and either directly replicating it or adapting it for their own context. Rather than running up against challenges, cities can anticipate and swerve around them. With CIVITAS, we’re taking the fast lane into the future.
Author: Matilde Chinellato