Integrating mobility in the Aveiro Region with a SUMP (Portugal)

By News Editor / Updated: 04 Sep 2015

In 2014 the Aveiro Region concluded the development of its Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, known as the Plano Intermunicipal de Mobilidade e Transportes da Região de Aveiro (PIMTRA)

The Aveiro Region hopes the PIMTRA – which is in the first steps of implementation -  will reduce the use of private transport and secure proper mobility for people, promote social inclusion, increase quality of urban life and preserve historical heritage.


The Aveiro Region is located in the central coastal region of Portugal. It consists of eleven municipalities with a total of 370 000 inhabitants, in an area of 1 693 km2. Its main city is Aveiro with 78 500 inhabitants.

The region is organised around the main corridor between Aveiro and Ílhavo where 31 per cent of the regional population lives. Most of the region’s trips (79 per cent) are intra-municipal. Each municipality has to confer with the region about their planning and development strategy.

The region’s mobility rate is 1. 92 trips per day per inhabitant, generating 712 000 daily trips. From these trips, 16 per cent are on foot; 4 per cent by bicycle (the highest level in Portugal) and 5 per cent by public transport (train and bus). The remaining 75 per cent of the trips are made by private car. The main city, Aveiro, generates 28 per cent of all trips.

The Aveiro Region felt a strong need for a strategic mobility plan, so in 2011 it contacted a team of mobility experts to develop an intermunicipal Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), known as the Plano Intermunicipal de Mobilidade e Transportes da Região de Aveiro (PIMTRA)  The plan was concluded by the end of 2014.

In action 

Since the Region decide to develop the PIMTRA through an external consultancy, the first step was to decide the terms of reference of the tender and the depth to which the mobility component should be addressed. Subsequently the region launched an international tender and chose an external consultant inSeptember 2011. 

For the plan development several stakeholders were involved but with different contributions and different levels of interaction. Each municipality nominated a technician responsible for giving inputs to the plan (namely in the characterisation and diagnosis) and to have a critical approach on the strategy development. This technical team include the Accompanying Commission (Comissão de Acompanhamento) that regularly met with the consultant team to discuss to progress of work (these meetings occured every two months).

Besides these regular moments of participation, the municipalities participated in the process in a broader scope:

  • In an initial phase: there were individual meetings in each municipality that included, simultaneously, elected politicians and planning and transport technicians. These meetings had, as a main objective, to explain the project and request the necessary base information;
  • At the end of the proposal phase: there were individual meetings with elected politicians and the planning and transport technicians to validate and complement the proposals developed in the project.

Additionally, the municipalities’ mayors followed the project phases in presentations that were done to the Aveiro Regio Executive Board. The major transport operators (both train and bus operators) were involved in the project in sectorial forums. The others stakeholders were invited to be present during the public presentation (open to everyone), with special invitations to the entities previously mentioned, but also to the IMT (responsible for technical regulation of road public transport), Aveiro University, industrial companies and the Aveiro Port Authority.

During the entire process, the PIMTRA was available for public consultation through the Aveiro Region website, which hosted the reports and presentations. The PIMTRA was concluded in 2014, but as the last part of the plan coincided with the municipal election and it was decided that the plan needed to be validate by the new mayors elected, it faced a six-month delay. During this process Aveiro, Águeda and Ílhavo developed their own municipal mobility plans.

The Aveiro Region SUMP is built on a careful assessment of the present mobility situation in the region and establishes a baseline against which future progress can be measured.  The plan is developed to be a tool to promote better co-ordination between transport modes with the aim of implementing an integrated mobility system within the region with minimum investment and operational costs.

In this way the Aveiro Region hopes to reduce the use of private transport and secure proper mobility for people, promote social inclusion, increase quality of urban life and preserve historical heritage. The plan cost nearly € 340 000 and was entirely funded by the Region.


The PIMTRA developed the transport and mobility strategy for the Aveiro Region. As part of this, it prepared a set of proposals concerning different areas (public transport, road network, parking, soft mode networks, logistics measures, etc.). The measures that have been considered were of different types:

  • New infrastructure, namely to expand and qualify the pedestrian and cycling networks and, in a few cases, to solve bottle-necks in the road network;
  • Improving public transport services (new lines or frequency increase in the existing ones) and interchange conditions;
  • Improving information about transport offer, considering the different vehicle available (mobility centres, internet options, interchanges and bus stops);
  • Awareness actions adjusted to the target groups (students, workers in industrial areas);
  • Improving the competencies of the Aveiro Region's technical team;
  • Create a Mobility Observatory.

Based on this set of proposals an Action Plan was developed in which were defined several aspects, such as priorities of implementation, the budget, objectives, types of the measures, and others. Through this exercise, the municipalities had their own Action Plans and can plan short- (one to two years), medium- (three to five years) or long-term (10 years) investments.  This information was extremely useful to the application process to the Horizon 2020 funds for the Aveiro Region's municipalities.

The plan is currently in its first steps of implementation with the following activities taking place:

  • Reinforcing and enlarging the capacity of the technical staff in the areas of  mobility, transport planning and management;
  • Implementing a Mobility Pact – a commitment between the entities  (e.g., municipalities, public transport operators, university , national mobility authority, police) that have direct or indirect impact on the region´s mobility in order to ensure the implementation of measures;
  • Creating a Mobility Observatory – this is a formal structure to collect and analyse data on the main mobility dynamics. It is also used to inform stakeholders and the general public of the results. The development and implementation of the Observatory is being developed by the same consultants who developed the SUMP.

Further actions are planned, which mainly involve the development of pilot studies specifically orientated at schools, industrial parks and business areas. These pilot studies will be supported by a set of dissemination actions in order to raise awareness among the main target groups.

For the Mobility Observatory, several thematic areas were defined (land use, mobility patterns, public transport, transport to school, taxis, soft modes, individual transport, parking,  road safety, freight/logistics, environment and energy, public accountancy, innovation) as well as their base indicators (more than 100). 

Challenges, opportunities and transferability 

Data collection is a major challenge: mobility related data is neither frequently collected nor reliable and when it exists it is frequently dispersed, divided or not organised systematically within municipal departments. The implementation of the Observatory turns out to be a way to enhance the capacities of local authorities on technologies and tools to collect mobility quality data and analysis and information exchange.

Another major problem was the lack of reliable information about the demand of public transport in the region. As a single operator feeds almost all the information about road public transport for the Observatory, its accessibility depends entirely on the goodwill of this operator. The Mobility Pact managed to establish a commitment (although fragile) between the region and the operator. Based on these data the region will be able to establish a realistic baseline assessment in order to define specific objectives to promote a more sustainable modal shift (public transport and soft modes). With the implementation of the Mobility Pact (underway), this information will become regularly available.

With a fully operational Observatory (by the end of 2015) the implementation of the actions related to the plan can be closely monitored thus enabling regular assessments of goals and specific objectives accomplishment. Monitoring reports will provide a solid basis to review the implementation plan, to disseminate information on mobility, and to assist the decision-making process at the municipal and regional levels.

Positive aspects regarding the preparation of this plan were:

  • The strong commitment from top political decision-makers;
  • The involvement of technical teams of local authorities throughout the process, allowing them to recognise the final result;
  • The plan implementation period (2.5 years) allowed the ideas and proposals contained therein to mature.

Negative aspects include:

  • Specific funding to carry out the plan's proposals could not be allocated, and few proposals have been implemented so far;
  • A technical department in the Aveiro Region responsible for implementing the plan actions, namely proposals that have an inter-municipal scope, has not yet been created.
In Depth 

Image copyright: Aveiro HDR (1st attempt) (image on Flickr) by "Fernando Ramos", licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Urban mobility planning
Arminda Soares
Jan-Willem Van Der Pas
13 Jul 2015
04 Sep 2015