Cities across the world are changing rapidly, influenced by the forces of economic and cultural globalisation. Over the years, the rate of urban change has accelerated to meet increasing demands with mass transit systems forming the backbone of an operational urban centre. However, mass transit reaches beyond A to B transportation. Other than its obvious territorial impact, mass transit has a large social impact influencing the core of every day life in urban areas.
Mass transit plays a critical role in more industrial areas and its efficiency depends on two major factors: the city’s industrialisation level and mass transit management systems. In Europe, for instance, all cities with a population of over 1 million have at least 1 subway line. In Asia however, 150 cities have a population of over 1 million, but only 50 of them have a subway system.
Mass transit is also the most local of global businesses, reflecting local attributes. EU mass transit is estimated at $95 billion, of which $24 billion is open to competition.
Road freight represents 44% of all EU-freight and is expected to increase 50% to 2010, introducing an additional 156 billion vehicle-km. However, growing congestion, environmental concerns and dependence on imported fossil fuel threaten European freight transport.
The European Union, along with companies involved in freight, need to cooperate to make better use of alternative modes of transport. In particular, rail, short sea shipping and inland waterways provide not only an alternative but offer safety, efficiency, cost, energy and environmental benefits. The 2001 EU Commission White Paper on European Transport Policy defines the need to take all necessary measures to facilitate this modal shift. The current system, with its rising costs and delays, is not capable of handling the expected 38% growth in freight transport by 2010 without a substantial increase in costs.
Multimodality is the key approach to an integrated and efficient European freight system. Operators are developing a more co-operative and planned approach to freight transport in order to make better use of all transport modes.
The European logistics market is worth an estimated € 710 billion, or 8% of Europe’s GDP. Over 1 million companies make up the fragmented industry, employing more than 5 million people. Freight transport providers have shifted in recent years from a freight forwarding approach into an integrated supply chain service, providing a mix of services that handle the merchandise through all levels of the transport chain.
Road transport networks of the world are being overwhelmed by traffic. Congestion means unpredictable travel times, environmental damage, property damage, delays and lost production. Only one strategy has demonstrated any serious capability of making a lasting impression: road user pricing.
Traditional toll roads have been in place for years with the primary goal of raising revenue; now the usage is becoming more strategic as governments strive to ease traffic congestion.
Electronic toll collection is becoming a hot topic in Central Europe as transportation infrastructure continues to develop in these countries.