Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: Madrid bans e-scooters on public transport; Commission Adopts New Proposal to Boost Sustainable Freight Transport; The ITF and World Health Organization to Expand Collaboration for Safer and Healthier Mobility; VW elects not to invest in Eastern European gigafactory.
Madrid bans e-scooters on public transport.
In an effort to prioritize passenger safety, the Community of Madrid has taken a temporary measure to restrict electric scooters from accessing the region’s public transport network. This decision, which came about following a recent incident, is aimed at safeguarding the well-being of commuters, employees, and the general public. The incident that prompted this decision occurred on October 17th when the battery of an electric scooter exploded inside a train at La Elipa station on Metro Line 2. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but it raised concerns about the safety of allowing electric scooters on public transportation. The temporary restriction will apply to buses operated by the Municipal Transport Company of Madrid (Empresa Municipal de Transportes, EMT), as well as intercity and urban buses in other municipalities. To ensure compliance with this temporary restriction, the CRTM has requested that operators involved, which includes electric scooter rental companies, disseminate this information through their digital and print channels. Non-compliance with the ban will result in expulsion from public transport facilities. The Community of Madrid has said that the ban will be revisited once the safety conditions regarding the use of electric scooters on public transport have been thoroughly evaluated and addressed.
Commission Adopts New Proposal to Boost Sustainable Freight Transport.
On the 6th of November the European Commission adopted a new proposal on combining transport modes with the aims of enhancing the competitiveness in the intermodal freight market. The proposal represents an update to the current Combined Transport Directive and is a crucial part of the broader Greening Freight Package, most of which was already approved in July 2023. The latest proposal is designed to make intermodal transport more efficient and competitive by prioritizing operations that reduce negative environmental impacts by at least 40% compared to road-only transport between the same start and end points. A critical tool in this effort is the establishment of digital platforms under the electronic freight transport information Regulation (eFTI), which will enable transport organizers to determine if their operations qualify for support. In addition to existing regulatory measures, the proposal introduces an exemption from temporary driving bans for combined transport, such as weekend driving bans. The proposal also mandates Member States to work towards a competitiveness target, aiming to reduce the average door-to-door cost of combined transport operations by at least 10% within seven years. Member States will need to implement necessary policies to achieve this goal. Speaking about the proposal, the IRU’s Director for EU Advocacy, Raluca Marian, said, “We appreciate the Commission’s efforts to finally address the combined transport rules. But we see the proposal as a missed opportunity to set a simple and transparent incentive framework for combined and intermodal freight transport users. She added that the “IRU is not convinced that linking combined transport incentives to the external cost performance of road freight operations is the right approach. It could slow down the reduction of road freight transport’s air quality and carbon dioxide footprint.” The proposal will now proceed to the European Parliament and the Council for consideration in the ordinary legislative procedure.
The ITF and World Health Organization to Expand Collaboration for Safer and Healthier Mobility.
In a significant step towards enhancing global road safety and promoting public health, the International Transport Forum (ITF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have announced plans to expand their collaboration. This joint effort, formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding signed on November 2, 2023, in Paris, will extend their cooperative efforts beyond road safety to tackle various challenges at the intersection of human mobility and public health. Key areas of collaboration identified in the agreement include road safety, sustainable transport policies, pollution, second-hand vehicles, and the role of road transport with respect to pandemics. This expanded collaboration will have a global reach, with particular emphasis on low- and middle-income countries. ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim expressed his enthusiasm for the extended collaboration, saying, “The WHO has long been a trusted and valued partner of the ITF in our work on making the world’s roads safer. It is a natural step to expand our joint efforts into the many other areas where human mobility and public health issues intersect – pollution, active mobility, disease control, and others. The COVID-19 pandemic was a dramatic reminder of that fact, and we are now drawing the right lessons from that experience.”
VW elects not to invest in Eastern European gigafactory.
Last week, Škoda Auto and Volkswagen AG’s top executives engaged in a significant business discussion with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Minister of Industry Jozef Síkela, focusing on the transformation of the automotive industry and the potential for a gigafactory to be localized in the Czech Republic. While Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume acknowledged the potential for a gigafactory in the Czech Republic, he also emphasized that there is no immediate urgency to make a decision on this matter. Volkswagen currently operates, or is set to operate, up to battery factories globally, including in Germany, Spain, and Canada. However, Blume noted: “based on market conditions, including the sluggish ramp up of the BEV (battery electric vehicle) market in Europe… there is for the time being no business rationale for deciding on further sites.” In response to the announcement, Czech officials expressed disappointment and hinted that the land set aside for Volkswagen may be reallocated to other investors seeking to establish their own gigafactories in the European country.