Smart mobility services in Trikala make a difference for citizens and tourists

Impact StoriesELEVATE

Two people using Trikala's electric wheelchair scooters, holding Cities-4-People brochures

Over the next several weeks, we will share stories from CIVITAS projects on-the-ground that implemented sustainable neighbourhood planning and SUMP solutions, both as news items, and later in a podcast episode, compilation publication and infographic.

In this story, we share an example from the Cities-4-People project, which promotes a people-oriented transport and mobility approach (POTM) as a new way to deliver innovative, sustainable, and targeted solutions that address the needs of the public. It is a form of transport and mobility that takes the needs and wishes of the people into account with the goal of improving transportation systems and increasing urban sustainability.

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Trikala (GR) is one of five cities that took part in pilot programmes as part of the Cities-4-People project, which is applying a people-oriented transport and mobility approach.


Today, Trikala has 81,000 inhabitants in its urban core, and a total population of 130,000, including the surrounding suburbs and villages. Due to this decentralisation, around 85,000 people commute daily to the city centre using private cars, biking and walking. Commercial activities in the historic city centre lead to traffic congestion, which is one of the main challenges in Trikala, especially in the area of “central square”.

Most everyday activities (institutional, entertainment, commercial etc.) take place in that neighbourhood, while the proximity to the central bus station and local open-air market causes severe traffic, further aggravated by the lack of parking spaces and prevalent illegal parking in the neighbourhood.

In Trikala today, mobility largely depends on individual car use – there are more than 50,000 car owners currently registered in the municipality, using their car to drive to the city centre on a daily basis. This has a negative impact on the environment, worsens traffic congestion and has a social impact: people who cannot afford or do not own a car cannot commute to the centre and therefore cannot access essential services.

Via Cities-4-People and SMARTA 2, another EU project dealing with rural transport, the Trikala team has worked to provide citizens with an alternative to the car when visiting the city centre.

Rolling out solutions

Cities-4-People supported the bottom-up development of solutions around Trikala’s central square. Through co-creation activities, Cities-4-People introduced citizen engagement in Trikala and created an active mobility community, which itself decided what kinds of services it wished to see implemented. These processes and the community they forged are expected to live on long after the end of Cities-4-People.

Co-creation tools in the neighbourhood led to the formation of supportive communities and helped promote stakeholders’ active engagement. These activities included first using voting methods to enable locals to indicate what mobility interventions they most wanted, and following these up with workshops and prototyping activities that empowered locals to whittle this list down to the most needed interventions.

Workshops and prototyping activities also led to the creation of Trikala’s Citizen Mobility Lab, which provides a physical space to share information and foster interaction among the members of the local community. It is an open and accessible space that enables members to meet, discuss, experiment, test technologies, and propose new mobility projects, and is expected to continue well into the future. In addition, the Citizens Mobility Kit, an online digital platform, facilitates information sharing and engagement in innovation processes.

“Embrace the citizens. Don’t just listen to their opinion: embrace them. Make them feel that the project is their own project,” advises Odisseas Raptis, CEO of e-Trikala.

Making use of the Mobility Lab, citizens in the neighbourhood asked for better facilities for persons with reduced mobility, and a focus on mobility solutions that accommodate both citizens and tourists to make short visits to the city centre. Cities-4-People took these suggestions and ran with them, introducing new mobility solutions in these areas in the neighbourhood of the grand open market and central square.

More specifically, the project introduced smart storage lockers and a wheelchair scooter, both of which offer a service to local market shoppers, people relying on wheelchairs, and tourists.

Early results have shown that the storage lockers have positive spillover effects on the use of shared mobility. These centrally-located storage lockers allow people to leave their heavy bags to pick up e-bikes, which are available at the same location.

The concept of smart lockers emerged from citizens’ and tourists’ wishes to visit the city for a couple of hours only. Trikala’s central train station had no lockers until this pilot, while now 10 smart storage lockers have been built.

The second measure aimed to increase the accessibility of local mobility services for disabled citizens. The city centre has previously been less accessible for those who use wheelchairs, hindering their ability to freely enjoy a trip to the centre of town.

Trikala’s team scrutinised the market and found a wheelchair scooter that could transform a regular wheelchair into an electric one. Understanding the importance of, and need for such equipment, Citeis- 4-People accepted the proposal and financed the purchase of a wheelchair scooter. This has vastly improved accessibility, ease of travel to different areas in central Trikala, users’ quality of life, and levels of independence. The current pilot offers limited service (one wheelchair scooter), which may be increased by the city purchasing more scooters in the near future.

Advancing progress into the future

Those two pilots have been integrated into the new SMARTA 2 project, which has developed a smart application that enables online reservations of the wheelchair scooter and of smart lockers through an integrated SMARTA 2 mobile application. What’s more, through the app, users can also reserve car sharing and carpooling services, and bicycles.

The Municipality is eager to continue supporting the operation of both services (wheelchair scooter and smart lockers) and to integrate them with other municipal mobility services. Τhe acceptance by the local community and their continuous usage of the services also helps make the case for their continued development and provision.

Overall, the bottom-up approach that was applied created an active sustainable mobility community in the neighbourhood, which has already proven useful for scaling-up successful measures, as well as supporting new ones.

Further reading



Photo Credits


Local Contributors

Odisseas Raptis, CEO, e-trikala
George Gorgogetas, Project Manager, e-trikala



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