Despite major economic and social challenges, Thessaloniki has succeeded in drafting its first Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), thus demonstrating its strong commitment to achieving more sustainable urban mobility. Implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes are at the very core of the SUMP which was adopted in February 2014. The tremendous effort that has been made by Thessaloniki in a difficult working environment has been rewarded by the 'Special Prize of the Jury' as part of the 2014 European SUMP Award.
Thessaloniki is engaged in mobility planning since the early 70s, and over the past 20 years it has worked in close collaboration with a number of local authorities and other stakeholders. However, until recent times efforts made in transport focused on road works. The city of Thessaloniki is nowadays facing several challenges related to the heavy dependence of its population on private transport. Moreover, complex administrative structures as well as the current period of serious economic and social crisis in Greece make mobility planning in Thessaloniki more complex. Through its new SUMP, Thessaloniki intends to reach four main objectives: a growth of public transport; a decrease of car flows in central area; a growth in active transport; and a decrease in pollution emissions.
The monitoring and the evaluation of both the SUMP planning process and the SUMP implementation process are handled by the Mobility Forum which gathers all involved public stakeholders (including Thessaloniki Public Transport Authority - THEPTA, traffic management organisation, regional authorities and the nine Municipalities of the metropolitan area), transport professionals, scholars and user-oriented stakeholders). In addition to the Mobility Forum which acts as a 'SUMP assembly', a specific department within THEPTA has been created to monitor the implementation process.
As ex-ante evaluations, Thessaloniki conducted several analysis. As a first step the 'scenario analysis' allowed stakeholders to assess whether each measure would be effective. A SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) analysis has been carried out by THEPTA. It provided a good overview of the mobility situation in Thessaloniki. Furthermore, other ex-ante studies and analysis have been conducted for individual measures such as the introduction of a tram network (feasibility study and cost-benefit analysis) or the introduction of a smart integrated ticketing system (business case, comparative study). Regarding the monitoring and the evaluation of the implementation process, the Quality Assessment Unit within THEPTA handles the monitoring of SUMP measures and quality assessment tasks. This unit can also rely on a performance measurement tool which measures customers’ satisfaction and is based on large-scale surveys.
Moreover, general evaluation activities will take place every year and results of the assessment will be used to modify and improve the measures before implementing them. Simultaneously, measures will also be debated within the Mobility Forum which allows the selection of widely-supported measures. To guarantee the independence of the evaluation process, technical staff have been trained during a two-day workshop co-financed by the ADVANCE EU project. This allowed staff to gain useful skills in audit activities, allowing them to conduct impartial evaluation of Thessaloniki SUMP measures.
The results of the evaluation process implemented in Thessaloniki can be illustrated by the example of the investigation made for the introduction of a tram network in the Greek city. A preliminary feasibility study was conducted for the introduction of a tramway network for Thessaloniki Metropolitan area and the impact on overall external costs and land uses. The proposed network has a length of 24 m, with priority at intersections. The development of the network will be realized in three phases, covering an area of 43 stops in total and estimated to serve 172 700 passengers per day. An investigation of the project’s socio-economic and financial feasibility (IRR, CBA) took place as well as an investigation of new financing schemes.
As main results, the evaluation of modal split effects showed significant reductions of private car use in favour of public transport in specific corridors where the new mode was proposed. Social costs and benefits, such as the reduction of road accidents and external costs of transport, the impact of urban regeneration and the increase of urban attractiveness, the reduction of travel times, and the increase of public transport share were estimated accordingly. The total implementation cost was estimated to € 515.7m. THEPTA’s proposal and the prefeasibility study have been submitted to the Ministry of Transport and the Municipality of Thessaloniki.
Through its evaluation and implementation process, THEPTA identified challenges and related opportunities for the next SUMP generation. For instance, THEPTA identified a lack of measures on integrated pricing and financing in the SUMP. In this context, it has envisaged potential measure for the next generation SUMP such as 'road-use charging' measures in order to finance sustainable mobility solutions. Considering the importance of tourism in Thessaloniki, the city faces a particular challenge: the sustainable mobility of tourists. The transport authority intends therefore to better integrate the mobility of tourists and visitors in the general mobility planning of the city and intends to propose specific measures targeting the sustainable mobility of tourists and vistors in the next SUMP. THEPTA is keen to share its experience and is particularly active in sharing its experience with other cities and stakeholders, both at national and European levels at different conferences and through different networks. By way of example, as the SUMP has been developed in the context of the ATTAC EU Transnational Cooperation project, Thessaloniki’s SUMP process has been discussed with other cities of south-eastern Europe.