Article of the UIA Knowledge base
Edit 16 October 2020
by UIA Secretariat based on Vanessa Holve report

Collaboration is key: towards innovative urban mobility strategies

Lahti Project Citicap
Lahti Project Citicap
The one-year knowledge activity led by the UIA on urban mobility issues builds on the experience of five UIA funded projects in Albertslund, Lathi, Ghent, Toulouse, Szeged to explore the challenges and opportunities faced by Urban Authorities (UA) when dealing with innovative tools and approaches. The following article is the second of a series that gives an overview of the first results and findings of the UIA capitalisation workshops, which gather cities that currently implement mobility innovative solutions. This second piece focuses on innovative collaboration strategies, and discusses how collaboration and innovation work in the age of change for mobility.
This article is a summary of the second part of the final Mobility Report, jointly written by UIA expert Vanessa Holve, the UIA Secretariat and the above-mentioned cities.

Urbanisation, climate change and pandemics… Cities face challenges in implementing efficient and sustainable mobility options, which meet the real needs of inhabitants. In that context, innovative approaches are also needed to address collaboration challenges in order to bring all mobility stakeholders to contribute to the solutions. Together with the rise of the sharing economy, the past few years have seen a flourishing of urban mobility solutions, which offer greener and more convenient ways to travel (such as shared mobility solutions). Consequently, collaboration between different forms of mobility in cities will be fundamental for creating transport that works effectively for all and represent solutions to the mobility challenges cities face but also challenges in terms of collaboration. Mobility's next generation depends on collaboration. Effective collaboration of cities, users, science and industry should be a central theme in the development of smart mobility systems, technologies and solutions. Publicly owned and operated systems (such as backbone public rail and bus networks) must work in tandem with privately owned and run services (such as shared electric and autonomous vehicles), all of which will utilise new technologies that will need to be developed on the basis of both public and private investment. Another key challenge will be the intelligent integration of business and governance models for new mobility technologies, services and systems to stimulate innovation and to ensure both efficient and equitable access to sustainable mobility.

The 5 UIA cities (Albertslund, Lathi, Ghent, Toulouse, Szeged) have reflected on these challenges they addressed during the implementation of their projects. Three takeaways emanated from these five cities’ contributions on collaboration in mobility management.


Collaboration in urban mobility management entails many benefits, including the possibility to experiment new concepts and access data that a city would normally not be able to. More cooperation with the private sector grants cities a new freedom to experiment, e.g. better access to data from private sector, which helps decision-makers to better identify real mobility needs in the city. It requires major changes in leadership, organizational structures — and perhaps most of all, a new, more agile and open culture. For the city of Ghent, an interesting opportunity arising from its UIA project is that it brought two competitors on the market together as project partners. Competitors started to open up and share their data, and freely exchanged about what could be useful for a city, and what was technically possible from their perspective. This might not have been possible in the context of a normal procurement procedure with fixed budget.

Co-creation helps to build better cities for people. It contributes to consensus building and to the application of tailor-made solutions – these are two crucial elements in the design and implementation of urban mobility. It is also an excellent method to build policies that are both effective and highly accepted by people. Collaboration is a culturally driven approach in Finland, so is collective local ownership. By jointly developing a widely supported common vision and goals with the CitiCAP project, it has helped to broaden Lahti’s perspective by looking beyond transport and mobility, and focus on the sustainability of the city as well as strengthen local collective ownership of the city’s vision. 

To help capitalise on new mobility opportunities, cities should set visions for urban transport that are shared with citizens and all partners.  A shared vision ensures positive outcomes rather than focusing on which party provides the service. It helps for instance to define an action plan, which will be the foundation for collaboration. Developing a widely supported common vision implies long processes, but helps to broaden cities’ perspectives and strengthen local collective ownership. For instance, the city of Ghent has developed a series of participative tools (mobility diary, workshops, online and participative dashboard) to gather information from users, ensuring that project actually meets their needs and stimulate stakeholders to deliver quality and new approaches. Alberstlund also took the same approach, focussing on dialogue with schools to develop “super bike trails”. The city also funds citizens’ ideas related to green areas and the several tunnels in the city. This is done as an attempt to generate ownership - while also creating good experiences and more safety for the cyclists. Therefore, citizens’ involvement also creates political buy-in and accountability, with elected and non-elected officials. In Toulouse, the Métropole includes institutional players, associative structures, companies and citizens to develop, improve and promote mobility services, but also to ensure road safety awareness actions. Citizen participation is increasingly used within the framework of existing systems such as the "Laboratoire des Usages" (Usage Laboratory).

Collaboration for better mobility is also seen as a trigger to keep people in the city. The city of Szeged found a common ground with employers, employees and the city, bringing about a triple win situation. On short term, the city hopes to see more and more measures taken and investments developed by local employers in order to make commuting in the city more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

New mobility services such as MaaS, Mobility-on-Demand, and micro-mobility or smart mobility services in freight and logistics can help cities become more sustainable. Urban mobility companies must collaborate closely with policy makers, decision makers and industry leaders to integrate these new mobility options into existing transport infrastructures. It is therefore, critically important that businesses see added value of being part of the project / vision to help scale up its implementation and to encourage more local businesses to join.

Within the SASMob project, Szeged established an alliance with local employers with the goal of making work-related commuting more sustainable and reducing rush-hour traffic in the city.

Toulouse Métropole - Tisséo-Collectivités also noted that the greatest challenge for the development of an integrated mobility (MaaS) in the city was to agree with all partners on what could be the actual benefit for the users. Perspectives varied whether coming from the private or public sector.

For Lahti, one of the biggest collaboration challenges usually lies in making city’s objectives understandable to the private sector: cities have long-term objectives, while the private sector tends to have rather short-term ones. In the UIA project, both sectors had short-term objectives, which helped with the agreement on objectives and the implementation. The strong involvement of local businesses and SMEs in the project helped to develop high trust between the private and public institutions and therefore to lower levels of formalisation, hence driving down contracts-related costs.  The true challenge will be about replication from the project though, since carbon trading does not have a functioning market behind. The private sector will need to see it as a concrete benefit in order to continue beyond the project’s life.

Many UIA projects pointed out that cities have to be strict in their way of cooperating with the private sector: they have to keep ownership over their project and defend their own vision. The concept of ownership is very important and has to be clear from the start of the collaboration. The mobility sector is moving from supply-oriented to demand-oriented. Mobility infrastructure needs to adapt to this. Private entities deliver data on demand, but also data about issues on the road network, e.g. MaaS-data, floating car data, etc. It is important for local governments to have ownership over this, to set the rules, e.g. anonymity, limit number of shared bikes providers in a city based on demand and amount of public space to store them, etc. It is also paramount for local governments to be able to monitor and evaluate results, and to be able to adjust the system by getting full access to the data and the analytics.

Albertslund interestingly pointed out this issue, highlighting that cities need new financing models for the future, which will increasingly involve the private sector. The PPP method (Public Private Partnership) enables the city, as a public authority, to safeguard citizens’ interests. Getting more funding, guidance and policies for expanding charging network for instance, could be of great help. Private companies are not induced to set up the charging infrastructure covering the whole city, which means that the infrastructure most often is placed in public parking lots, however it is difficult for the city to make a tender and a business model for it. PPP funded projects could encourage the private sector’s contribution to these developments.

Three main takeaways can be enhanced out of this work with UIA projects:

  • More collaboration in urban mobility management makes cities more agile
  • Collaboration creates a common vision and ownership for more sustainable mobility
  • Successful collaboration needs to include a win-win situation (for both the public and private sector)


Find more about the next steps of the knowledge activity on urban mobility here. A final report on innovative mobility projects will also be produced and disseminated during the Polis Annual Conference (30-2 December 2020). In the meantime, we will further explore behavioral change challenges related to urban mobility together with Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform on 1 December.
Stay tuned to the UIA #KnowledgeLab and our social media platforms @UIA_Initiative for updates, events and findings.

Learn more about UIA mobility projects and look at CitiCap project video.

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