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Brussels, 5 December 2011

Smart mobility challenge – questions and answers

European citizens have been invited today to start voting for their favourite multimodal journey planner as part of the first European Mobility Challenge launched by the Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for Mobility and Transport. The idea behind the challenge was to raise awareness about and stimulate development of all-in-one journey planners, going beyond national borders and offering alternative transport modes. Now it is time for the public to have their say on the submitted planners.

What is the smart mobility challenge?

Journey planners are not new. They exist on a national and regional level across Europe. However, there are very few real integrated European journey planners – tools that allow Europeans to plan a journey across Europe regardless of the number of countries or transport modes involved. The technology for this already exists and the need is there. Multimodal travel is a key part of the European Commission’s strategy for the future of transport. Vice-President Siim Kallas, EU Commissioner for transport, has therefore launched the challenge to industry and stakeholders to make multimodal travel a reality for European citizens by developing or submitting ideas for Europe-wide journey planners.

What is the problem with existing journey planners?

Although there are many journey planners out there – a quick survey by the European Commission discovered more than 100 – there is not one yet that allows users to find information or book a ticket for a journey within Europe regardless of the number of countries or transport modes involved. This means planning for a trip is still very time-consuming and inefficient as people will have to use different journey planners depending on where they go or how they travel. This will often mean they are not made aware of all the public transport alternatives that are available.

What would be the advantages of having a multimodal journey planner?

A multimodal journey planner would include all transport modes and all public transport options. It would be very a convenient and fast solution to allow people to travel in a way that best suits their needs. Some might decide to go for the quickest option, others for the cheapest option. Yet others might go for an option that least affects the environment. It would give users all the information they need to plan their journey door-to-door with a few simple clicks. Our cities in particular, but also many other parts of the transport system face increasing congestion. Better travel planning is one tool that can promote the use of alternative transport solutions, making the entire system more sustainable.

If a multimodal journey planner for Europe is such a good idea, why has no one done it yet?

    Although the technology for creating a truly European multimodal journey planner already exists, other barriers still remain:

  • Not all travel data is widely available;

  • Data is available in different formats, which makes it more difficult to exchange information;

  • The accuracy and completeness of travel information can vary from country to country;

  • There is too little collaboration between different regions and countries.

Does this mean that the European Commission will be setting up and operating this journey planner?

No, not at all. We simply want to play our part in making it possible by identifying and removing some of the obstacles involved. This could mean for example facilitating the exchange of data. We have always put people at the heart of our transport policies and this journey planner would be a way of empowering travellers. This smart mobility challenge is simply another way of encouraging organisations and companies to get involved.

Who participated in the competition?

The competition was primarily for journey planning, travel management and travel operating stakeholders (local authorities, transport organisations, etc.) active in the European Union and for people in the European transport industry as they are more likely to have developed these planners. However, any EU citizen or resident was free to submit an idea.

What criteria are the submissions to the challenge judged on?

For the first category (operational European multimodal journey planners) a pre-selection of planners prior to the public vote has been done by the European Commission based on the following criteria:

  • Number of years/months in operation

  • Number of European countries supported by the planner

  • Number and type of transport mode covered by the planner

  • Quantified usage of the planner

  • Future potential of the planner

  • For the second category of submissions (ideas’, the jury will evaluate and judge the proposals according to the following criteria:

  • Technical and operational feasibility

  • Potential impact on the industry/services of multimodal journey planners

  • Potential user acceptance

  • Innovation level

  • Social impact

What is the prize?

The two best entries in each category will win the following prizes:

  • Invitation (travel and accommodation costs covered) to an event in Brussels with Vice-President Siim Kallas to announce the winners.

  • Invitation (entry, travel and accommodation costs covered) to participate in the ITS World Congress in Vienna (22-26 October 2012) at the European Commission stand and present their planners/ideas.

What happens next?

People had until 15 October 2011 to submit their journey planners and ideas.

From 5 December 2011 to 13 January 2012, the operational planners that have been submitted and preselected, according to the aforementioned criteria, will be put to a public vote on the website of the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport. Meanwhile a professional jury will evaluate ideas for new journey planners.

Below, you will find the list of 12 journey planners short-listed for the e-vote:

  • DB (Germany) – This journey planner is available in nine languages, and has seventeen country/language specific pages that help to plan the journey across Europe in a tailor-made approach. For selected connections it also provides with Mobility check (comparison of the proposed rail connection with car journey) and Environmental Mobility check (comparison of car/train/plane connections for the same route, together with energy consumption and GHG emission).

  • Eco-comparateur (France) - This cross-border planner allows comparing the cost and the ‘carbon footprint’ involved in various travel options, by car, train or plane, between different European locations. It is available in eight different linguistic country versions.

  • EU Spirit (Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, France, Poland) – EU-SPIRIT (a result of the project funded by the 5th Framework Programme (FP) Research&Development) offers door-to-door journey planning in selected countries or regions. Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg are fully covered; there are also a number of German regions, a French region of Alsace and a Polish city of Warsaw. It provides information on train, coaches, planes and public transport connections.

  • IDOS (Czech Republic) – This planner covers Czech Republic and Slovakia. It provides information on schedules, and allows planning a door-to-door journey between these two countries. The transport modes covered are train, public transport and plane for journey planning within the EU.

  • INTEGRA (UK, France, Spain, Portugal) – INTEGRA has been developed as a part of the START project within the European Commission's Transnational Cooperation Programme for the Atlantic Area. It helps planning journey between different Atlantic regions of the UK, France, Spain and Portugal. It covers plane, train, bus and ferry connections.

  • MULTICITY (France) – This journey planner developed by Moviken for Citroën offers the option to compare travel arrangements for speed and cost. It covers the following transport modes: car, train, plane, walking, public transport, and bike. It provides with door-to-door planning for France and journey planning across Europe and beyond, between major cities.

  • Scotty (Austria) – This journey planner helps to find the way across Europe, combining routes by train, bus, ferry, tram, and/or metro. It provides also station, line as well as traffic information.

  • Rejseplanen (Denmark) – Rejseplanen, which is also participating in the EU spirit cooperation, provides with door-to-door routes in Denmark and Southern Sweden. It covers train, metro, bus, ferry and car travels. It lets the end user to select the via-stop, means of transport and accompanying walking distances.

  • Route RANK (Switzerland) – RouteRANK allows for planning journeys by car, train or plane, between main European cities/airports. It suggests the fastest connection, and the cheapest one. It also allows finding the least polluting trip option.

  • SBB (Switzerland) – This journey planner gives the opportunity to plan the journey across Europe, between its main cities or stations. It covers trains, buses, trolleybuses and walking tips.

  • Trenitalia (Italy) – Trenitalia journey planner allows to organize a journey across main European cities/stations, using train, bus or ferry. It suggests promotional options and allows buying tickets for some of the connections.

  • WISETRIP (Greece, UK, Finland, Italy, China) - WISETRIP is a project, funded by the EC FP7-SST Programme. This planner offers international and domestic routing between major cities/airports in Europe. It also provides with door-to-door planning for Greece, NorthEast UK, Firenze (Italy) and parts of China. It combines the following transport modes: train, ferry, plane, public transport, walking.

Vice-President Kallas will announce the winners in both categories at an event in Brussels in February 2012.

The winners will be able to present their projects and ideas at the ITS World Congress in Vienna from 22–26 October 2012. This will be an opportunity for them to turn their vision into a reality.

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