Introducing the Sustainable Urban Transport Plan
The Municipality of Gorna Oryahovitsa has formulated and embraced policy to provide for sustainable transport development for the period till 2020. The policy document, named Sustainable Urban Transport Plan (SUTP), was elaborated based on best European practices and EU Guides. The plan lays down integrated approach in solving emerging transport problems and in meeting mobility needs of the population and local business.
Implementing sustainable mobility
During the R&D phase and following the SUTP manual, Guidance for stakeholders (EC, DG Environment), measure implementation started with identification and involvement of stakeholders: general public (i.e. NGOs and user groups), politicians, local business, public authorities, transport operators, etc. Draft Plan was developed in several iterations and in active consultations with the stakeholders’ representatives. Baseline shortcomings as well as the main threats for sustainable development of the city were identified. These were clustered and ranked by priority considering their economic, social and environmental impact. Two development scenarios were modelled to contrast former development with alternative sustainable approach. A common vision for future city development and three main priorities was agreed upon. Final result is a set of ‘soft’ measures aiming at improved quality of life of city residents and the economic development of the city based on integrated urban and transport planning. The measures do not aim at hampering or limiting the mobility, but shall provide for free-flow, safe and secure transportation that meets the needs in a cleaner and healthier urban environment. Three main priorities, seven specific objectives and a number of measures to achieve these were identified and discussed.
Elaboration of the Plan was accompanied by large-scale information and awareness raising campaigns aiming at explaining the difference between Sustainable Urban Transport Plan and all other land-use and development plans. Specific emphasis was put on the favourable position the city of Gorna Oryahovitsa has to prevent rather than to correct already existing transport problems.
Within the CIVITAS Plus Renaissance project a Sustainable Urban Transport Plan (SUTP) for the city of Gorna Oryahovitsa has been elaborated and adopted. Considering the interrelation between the transport sector and socio-economic development the City realised that sustainable system could only be achieved by planning transport, environment, land and energy use as elements of a single integrated transport policy package. The SUTP aims at influencing travel behaviours and traffic patterns in favour of long-term sustainable development to provide for high quality of life of Gorna Oryahovitsa citizens.
The Municipality of Gorna Oryahovitsa is the first Bulgarian city that has elaborated, adopted and enforced such a long term strategic document.
As of the beginning of the Renaissance project the City had several urban and economy development plans adopted and enforced, but was missing logically structured and integrated long-term policy on sustainable transport planning. Being a relatively small in size and number of population Gorna Oryahovitsa was benefiting modal split in favour of non-motorised modes, relatively low level of road traffic and fatality and causality rates below the country average. In the same time there were signs of rapidly evolving situation: very low use of public transport, motorisation rate above the country average, accelerated growth of road traffic and especially the heavy transit one, very low use of alternative fuels. This combination of advantages and disadvantages provided the City of Gorna Oryahovitsa with the chance of setting up and undertaking preventive measures for solving the forthcoming problems before the quality of life in the city is drastically deteriorating due to transport related externalities.
Being a follower city Gorna Oryahovitsa identified elaboration of an integrated concept for sustainable transport development as one of the measures to be implemented within the Renaissance project.
After a period of intensive dissemination of the draft SUTP and public hearings the City Council in its capacity of political body in charge has adopted the final SUTP. Administrative provisions for implementation of the plan in practice were made, structure and staff functions of a Municipal unit in charge with SUTP implementation and regular update were approved. An action plan for 2012 and 2013 was elaborated, budget and responsibilities were allocated. Actions planned are under implementation.
Due to active involvement of stakeholders and awareness raising campaign the SUTP is well known to the citizens: almost 50% of general public is aware of the plan and some 40% accepts it. The level of acceptance among the other stakeholders is even higher: a bit less than 70%.
Experience gathered during the Plan elaboration and adoption was disseminated among large number of Bulgarian cities, as well as among the seven Gorna Oryahovisa tween cities in Belarus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Turkey.