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Siim Kallas

Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for Transport

Intelligent transport: technologies and services

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Intelligent transport systems conference

Brussels, 22 June 2010

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all here today to our conference on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), the first of a planned series of annual ITS conferences to report on the progress of our ITS action plan and directive.

To start, let me offer my personal attempt at defining intelligent transport: transport is intelligent if it provides efficient mobility to people and goods and freedom to move, while minimising negative effects on health, nature, the economy and quality of life. Intelligent transport systems can be a powerful tool to support overall transport policy goals in many ways. However, ITS deployment is not a goal in itself.

Which policy goals do I mean? How exactly can ITS help? Let me give you some clear examples.

  • First of all, our transport system should be user-friendly and support the freedom to make efficient choices. One example, out of several: Transport Direct is Britain's multi-modal online journey planner. It offers reliable information on several travel modes. Evaluation shows that 5% of customers shift from car to public transport, 17% change their route and 24% their travel time. Information for smart choices.

  • Our transport system needs to be sustainable. One example where ITS can help is in support of eco-driving. The resulting reduction in fuel consumption is up to 20% after training and the long-term effect under everyday driving conditions is still at about 7%. This is not a negligible amount.

  • A transport system which still takes the lives of more than 35,000 people each year is not safe. There are several advanced vehicle systems ready for wider use. eCall, the in-car emergency system, could alone save up to 2,500 lives per year. Let us set up this system fast. Other systems are already lined up for deployment and citizens — rightfully — will not understand if we wait to put them to good use.

  • There is another real burden to the economy and society: hours and hours of traffic congestion. Looking for more efficiency, a reduction of congestion by just 10% through better traffic management could save €12 billion per year in time and fuel costs.

  • And finally I want to stress a quality of mobility which becomes ever more important: the integration of the different transport modes. All transport modes should be smoothly interlinked, as part of one integrated system. This would not only facilitate everyday door-to-door mobility and allow faster transport and more efficient use of resources. It would also provide better contingency in terms of problems: the recent ash cloud in the skies over Europe left more than 10 million passengers unable to fly, who were desperately in need of transport alternatives.

From these examples I hope it becomes clear that I am convinced that ITS can make a difference. We are determined to make an extra step to accelerate the deployment of ITS throughout Europe to help making this difference be felt a reality. Indeed, Europe has a role to play here, not by taking everything into our own hands, but by supporting the right framework conditions: the policy priorities, legal certainty, possibly the choice of generic ITS components to be shared or re-used, and agreement on a clear timetable.

With that in mind we adopted in late 2008 the ITS action plan with its 24 concrete measures. Director-General Matthias Ruete will later explain the details of this plan and the progress we have made to date. But I want to briefly recall the objectives of our work. We aim at:

  • accelerating the uptake of ITS services,

  • increasing their interoperability,

  • setting up an efficient ITS cooperation (different levels of government; public and private partners),

  • and at solving pending privacy and liability issues.

Privacy and security requirements need to be incorporated into all standards, technical specifications and systems. More on this important issue later today. A European approach is needed to set common priorities and to work on the continuity of services across borders. Scale effects will lead to cost reductions and help promoting the European ITS industry. The ITS action plan is very much based on existing work, for example on research and development. It supports the necessary practical take-up of innovative solutions already supported in research projects. It brings together five departments of the Commission which cooperate in team spirit — itself valuable administrative inter-operability, if you allow me this side remark.

With the action plan, the Commission proposed a directive to prepare the legal framework for ITS deployment. In the last 18 months we have had very fruitful and constructive discussions in the European Parliament and in the Council. I am very pleased to see we are now on the final stretch of adoption and that both the Spanish Presidency and the Parliament's rapporteur, Ms Jensen, are here with us today to share their expectations about what the forthcoming directive can bring.

The aim of the directive is to take a substantial step towards harmonised use of ITS while leaving full freedom to deploy systems locally, regionally or nationally as appropriate and necessary. The core will be the work on functional, technical and organisational specifications. These specifications, based on careful impact assessment, would become mandatory when ITS is deployed. The first priorities are traffic and travel information, eCall and intelligent truck parking. In short: we will harmonise for some priority services how deployment is done, but we will not prescribe whether it is done or how the systems work in detail.

Another important pillar of our ITS activities are the Trans-European Networks for Transport (TEN-T). As you probably know, we are currently in the decisive phase of our review of the TEN-T policy. The Commission has drafted a proposal for a new methodology for TEN-T planning, which is under public consultation until mid-September. ITS represents an important part of the proposed core network. It will enhance the efficient use of infrastructure and is a key to genuine network integration.

Ladies and Gentlemen, before concluding, allow me to put before you a question I already asked at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig last month:

Why can't I yet plan or book my journey through Europe — switching from air to rail or sea, to urban or road transport — in one single go and online? Although there are very good examples at regional, and sometimes national level, there is as yet no integrated European travel planning, not to speak about ticketing. I would like to use this occasion again to issue my innovation challenge to industry and stakeholders: Please do come up with demonstrations of real European multimodal journey planners — ideally enhanced by reservation and ticketing facilities, to provide seamless ticketing and travel.

I know obstacles are plentiful: legal, technical, political and the business case. But let me assure you we are ready to listen and ready to play our part in removing barriers to innovation experienced by industry and stakeholders. Multimodal journey planners are a topic of both actions plans on ITS and on urban mobility. Specifications for multi-modal travel information will be a priority of the forthcoming ITS directive. I very much hope we can use the opportunity of next year's ITS gathering and make it a public showcasing event to test and compare the best integrated travel planning solutions and service developments proposed by then.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope I was able to demonstrate why ITS is so important for us and what our approach is to accelerate the use of services throughout Europe. There will be ample opportunity to discuss more details throughout the day. Let me conclude: intelligent transport is about technology — but not only technology: it is also very much about services for real people with real needs. This requires good management of all transport-related processes. Caring for one's passengers, clients, employees and their needs helps in identifying innovative solutions and new business opportunities. Service thinking is a must.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

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