“Public transport must be ready to allow for sustainable mobility”

PERE CALVET, TELLS MAFEX WHAT THE MAIN FUNCTIONS OF THIS IMPORTANT ORGANISATION ARE AND HOW IT SEES THE FUTURE OF GLOBAL MOBILITY.

UITP is a worldwide association, created in 1885, which promotes public transport. Currently, it has more than 18,000 associates from 96 countries and represents more than 1,400 bodies and institutions. This body brings together the main players in the sector: operators, authorities, technical and research institutes, as well as representatives of the industrial and tertiary sectors. There are also 57 Spanish companies and institutions holding membership.

Mafex Magazine: Since mid-2017, you have held the post of CEO at UITP. What aims have you put forward during your tenure?

Pere Calvet: UITP, as indicated in the introduction, is a worldwide organisation with a presence throughout the planet and working strategies coordinated with its members. The CEO can and must accompany the organisation in its different working lines, strengthening those aspects in which they feel most strongly identified. In my case, the improvement of the habitability of our cities through the implantation or evolution of public transport attracts me especially.

Likewise, by maintaining UITP’s global presence both at the geographical area level and in the different modes of transport, I feel involved in achieving greater Latin American participation in the association and UITP in Latin America.

Mafex Magazine: Since its creation in 1885, the role of the UIPT in the promotion of public transport has been very prominent. How do you manage to foster and boost such worldwide representation?

Pere Calvet: On the one hand, the aims of public transport managers around the world tend to be mostly common. On the other hand, the association is based on an organisation with participation of different modes of transport and representatives of geographical areas and countries in which all associates feel represented. Finally, UITP offers a forum for the exchange of direct knowledge among professionals of the sector, highly valued by members, since in different parts of the world companies face similar challenges.

Mafex Magazine: What do you consider to be the main challenges facing urban mobility? What role does public transport play in the future of mobility?

Pere Calvet: The world population moves towards the large agglomerations and consequently public transport must be prepared to allow for sustainable mobility, to avoid, in the first place, increases in pollution and the system’s sustainability, and secondly, the collapse of the megalopolis.

Mafex Magazine: What contributions does the railway have in terms of urban public transport? And specifically, regarding intermodality issues?

Pere Calvet: The railroad is the backbone of any urban public transport system in densely populated areas or those that need to facilitate a high demand for mobility. Only through its large-scale capacity will demand be satisfied. However, on this basis, a variety of public transport systems must be designed to allow for capillarity adapting to each need.

Mafex Magazine: The advances of the Spanish industry have brought with them in recent years innovative solutions in many fields such as energy efficiency, capacity, accessibility and the improvement of the user experience. How do you assess the commitment of the companies in the sector, and in comparison to the railway industry in other countries?

Pere Calvet: The Spanish industry is at the forefront in several areas and this has been roundly proven. Both the industrial sector and the people who work there are sufficiently prepared to take on the present and future challenges. The Spanish railway industry has managed to adapt to the challenge of a global market competing thanks to quality, innovation and efficiency. Nowadays nobody is surprised to see Spanish products and professionals anywhere in the world, which is undoubtedly a reflection of this evolution.

Mafex Magazine: And what is the role played in the field of R&D from the operators’ viewpoint?

Pere Calvet: In a globalised world, with possibilities to carry out large industrial productions in any country, only R&D can offer interesting and differentiating options.

 Mafex Magazine: In UITP there are 57 Spanish organisations. What is their input?

Pere Calvet: For UITP, all members have their contribution, some with more activity and participation, others sharing the widespread information that is produced. However, as a country, we still do not have the participation and involvement in international organisations in relation to the weighting in our industry. This trend must change, increasing the international presence, not only in quantitative terms but also qualitatively, being active and participating in decision making and influencing decisions.

Mafex Magazine: As a renowned expert and connoisseur in the field of urban public transport, how do you see the role of metropolitan railways, tramways, and regional rail links in the future? Are they key to designing a map responding to the needs of 21st century passengers?

Pere Calvet: It is difficult to make general considerations that serve public transport worldwide, however in an attempt to group together solutions, three families of cities that allow for the visualisation of the future development of public transport can be considered:

  • Major world capitals, which invest in transportation systems that allow them to decongest existing infrastructures.
  • Large agglomerations, still in the growth stage, that build new infrastructures to connect new spaces that spring up.
  • Cities in formation, which are the ones that must pay extra attention to the design of public transport. Their proper choice will make them the cities of tomorrow or cities that will not be habitable.

For each case there will be several technical solutions with different characteristics that will be a challenge both for those who must decide and for the industry, and in all of them the railway mode must have a fundamental role.