JPI Urban Europe/NSFC Urban Public Administration and ServiceS innovation for Innovative Urban Mobility Management and Policy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute for Transport Studies


Achieving a sustainable and reliable transport system is among the key challenges that contemporary cities face; in China, in Europe, and beyond. Defining effective strategies to improve the benefits of transport, while limiting its downsides, has proven to be a great challenge, both from a scientific perspective and from a policy viewpoint. But these questions are pressing, given the importance of transport not only in the functioning and spatial growth of cities, but also in its dominant impacts on urban air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. U-PASS proposes to design and analyse innovative service and policy innovations for achieving sustainable urban transportation by studying short-run behavioural impacts through real-life experimental studies, and long-run implications through advanced urban transport modelling approaches. The project thus aims to offer innovations in the design of new services and policies in urban transport, in the set-up of new types of experiments, and in the development and integration of new types of models. The collaboration between Chinese and European top institutes, combined with applications in both parts of the world, gives a great opportunity for cross-fertilization, comparative study, and exploitation of diversity for the purpose of generalizing and transferring insights to be gathered.

Motivated by the world-wide shared desire and need for more efficient, reliable and environmentally sustainable urban transport, this project will investigate how to achieve this through new policies and services. We conduct real experiments and build models, both in China and in Europe, and integrate the two approaches. We focus on policies and services such as tradable credits schemes, automated vehicles, electric driving, ride sharing, car sharing, and cycling. The approach enables us to learn more by exploiting differences in modelling approaches, cultural backgrounds, local conditions, and research expertise.

Planned Impact

The overall objective of this project is the development, implementation and evaluation of innovative tools, policy measures and strategies that aim at achieving a sustainable and efficient urban transport system. The project focuses on both "technology" and "behaviour". The sustainability goals in the context of this project include a reduction of car congestion and usage (and resulting reductions of CO2 emissions, local pollutants and noise), and an increase in the attractiveness of non-motorized modes as well as public transport. The project thus contributes to achieving more sustainable cities with enhanced climate neutrality and improved liveability, and aims at tackling highly relevant urban challenges that are shared by many cities across China, Europe and beyond. The potential impact of the project results is therefore extremely wide. Although the models, policies and experiments themselves have a local metropolitan character, the project will have an impact on larger geographical scales when its successful elements will find their ways also to other cities. To facilitate the dissemination, we aim at identifying the extent to which effectiveness of the policies and experiments depends on local circumstances, which will be aided by cross comparison between countries. Due to the societal importance of developing a more efficient and sustainable transportation system for urban societies, the project's potential value to user communities across Europe is very large.

At the level of the participating cities, we expect immediate impacts of the project. Evaluating their effects using state-of-the-art modelling approaches will lead to a better understanding of the underlying behavioural dynamics, which can then be used to further improve the design of policies targeted at achieving sustainable, yet efficient urban transportation systems. Those measures that will be implemented in the course of the project will have immediate impacts on users of the transportation system, even though in the case of experiments only a small group of people will be affected directly. However, the more successful the experiments are in reducing car usage and enhancing sustainability, the more strongly we expect the measures tested to be eventually implemented at a wider scale.

Lessons learned from stakeholder (and civil society/public) engagement during the project will help inform a set of guidance and evidence for better/improved implementation in both continents; the optimal transitional approach is likely to take elements of best practice from both sides. Again without this open research agenda we would not be able to tackle these challenges and hence produce evidence and guidance on approaches to support markets for integrated urban development which tackles issues around new mobility services which when tailored can be readily transferred to other cities in China and the EU, and likely also more widely so. Lessons on transferability between EU and China could also help understand transferability to other places. The UK core cities have governance as a key strand of their work through the Urban Transport Group (UTG) and we will be linking in with this group based in Leeds as part of our dissemination of the research to a UK audience.

Our outputs will include:
guidance on new public administration structures and governance processes required to introduce the innovative services;
models and empirical results of applying such services and an assessment of their potential impact on key sustainability and welfare indicators in China and Europe
Stakeholder engagement and learning around the barriers to implementation and transition challenges around new innovative services which will be transferable to other cities in both China and the EU.