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Executive Vice-President of the European Commission : Mr. Frans Timmermans
European Union Commissioner for Transport: Ms. Adina Vălean

22 May 2020

Dear Executive Vice-President,
Dear Madam Commissioner,

Re: EU Recovery Package must ensure significant support to public transport

While urban mobility is being disrupted dramatically by the current crisis, your work on the EU Covid Recovery Package can mitigate the impact – and ensure public transport emerges stronger. There is a risk that rather than returning to public transport, commuters will shift to individual, fossil-powered vehicles, leading to a rebound in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution in the coming months. At the same time, there is huge public momentum to maintain the improved air quality we experience in our urban areas today. Public transport has a central role here: it requires the renewal of bus fleets with zero emission vehicles, and quickly.

Public transport has suffered immense loss of revenue; it will need to be supported to ensure attractive services and, at the same time, achieve climate and air quality goals. This is well aligned with the European Green Deal which says that “transport should become drastically less polluting, especially in cities”. The co-signatories of this letter are calling on the European Commission to adopt the following measures as part of the upcoming Recovery Package:

Green public procurement: new and extended services must be met with zero-emission vehicles. Under the ESIF and CEF frameworks, a grant scheme should be introduced to support cities to achieve and ideally overachieve targets set in the Clean Vehicles Directive for zero emission buses, refuse collection trucks, municipal vans, and install the required infrastructure.
We suggest a multi-billion euro support scheme for zero emission bus purchasing (with an indicative €3.5bn programme outlined in the annex below, which could be developed/amended, including to account for Member State GDP levels, for example). This scheme should be fully compatible with existing national funding schemes and allow for combined funding. In the procurement of zero emission buses, it must follow the principle of technology neutrality to provide the necessary flexibility for local adjustments and promote innovation. By the mid 2020s all newly purchased urban buses in the EU (approx 12,000) would be zero emission buses, with the level of public grant falling in the second half of the decade.

EU grant schemes must also enable cities to financially support the transition to zero emission vehicles used as taxis, for ride hailing and for car sharing.

A portion of the CEF Digital budget should be devoted to modernising public transport by, for example, making high-speed internet available onboard, improving the efficiency of multimodal ticketing, and developing real-time passenger information systems.

Support the development of cycling and walking: Cities are facing mounting pressure to provide mobility solutions in the wake of the pandemic. Many are countering this pressure with emergency measures to promote cycling and walking. A grant system should be made available immediately so that cities can construct permanent safe cycling infrastructure and widen footpaths as soon as possible. The EU recovery package should also boost cycling and the availability of public e/bike fleets in Europe with a multi-billion euro investment commitment.

The implementation of these measures will stimulate the economy by creating jobs and contribute to reaching the climate objectives of the EU.

To further input regarding the EU Covid Recovery Package, this letter is open to additional signatories (please email james.nix@transportenvironment.org & pauline.fournols@transportenvironment.org).

Yours sincerely

Elke van den Brandt, Minister of the Government of the Brussels Capital Region responsible for Mobility, Public Works and Road Safety
Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn
Owen P Keegan, Chief Executive, Dublin City Council
Marco Granelli, Councillor for Mobility and Public Works, Municipality of Milan
Anna Lisa Boni, Eurocities
Claire Roumet, Energy Cities
Jeremy Wates, European Environmental Bureau
Sascha Marschang, European Public Health Alliance
William Todts, Transport & Environment