Antwerp is a vital node in the European road network. To improve accessibility and create the right infrastructure for safe transport, several major construction projects have started in the Antwerp region over the last year. In the short term, this has led to a challenging mobility situation and traffic disruption in certain areas.
To tackle these, the city of Antwerp established "Smart Ways to Antwerp" (SWtA), which informs those travelling in and around Antwerp about road works and encourages them to take alternative modes of transport.
With the support of the EU-funded CIVITAS PORTIS project, SWtA adopted an innovative procurement approach called the “Marketplace for Mobility”, consisting of partnerships with mobility providers. This case study looks at how Antwerp approached the procurement process, its results, and the lessons learned.
Antwerp is a north Belgian city located on the banks of the river Scheldt. It has approximately 520,000 inhabitants (2017) and is Europe's second largest port. The port is crucial to the city's economy, employing around 60,000 people.
The “Ring of Antwerp” is a six-lane motorway bypass that encircles the city centre and offers connections to other major Belgian cities, such as Brussels, Liège, and Ghent, and cities in France and the Netherlands.
The Antwerp region experiences major road congestion. To address this, the Flemish government drew up its Masterplan 2020 and, more recently, Routeplan 2030.
Large investment in all transport modes is intended to improve traffic movement, create safer roads, and raise quality of life.
A broader policy aim is for half of all trips in the wider Antwerp region to be carried out using sustainable transport modes by 2020.
Governmental institutions alone cannot solve mobility challenges. To provide an increased range of alternative mobility solutions and services, Antwerp decided to collaborate with mobility service providers in the private sector.
To find them, a procurement process was initiated in September 2016 called the “Marketplace for Mobility”. This is intended to cut rush hour traffic and encourage the use of sustainable transport modes.
Both passenger and freight services are targeted. The mobility providers cover many bases, including bike and car sharing systems; electric vehicles; smart mobility apps; and logistics solutions. As part of the initiative, they receive support and/or promotion to (further) develop their services.
The Marketplace for Mobility also forms part of the CIVITAS PORTIS project, which involves 33 partners from five European port cities. Antwerp is the lead city.
They collaborate on innovative sustainable mobility solutions that improve access to their cities and ports. The exchange of knowledge and experience forms an important part of PORTIS.
SMtA is in continuous contact with mobility service providers to develop participation instruments that strengthen and improve partnerships. Three different ways exist for providers to participate in the Marketplace.
Existing service providers with excellent track records can submit a business plan and become a partner. Their services are offered through the Marketplace, and they can use the SMtA branding. Partnerships are evaluated every six months.
Applying following project calls:
Entrepreneurs can submit project proposals following project calls. The first of these calls was in Autumn 2016, with a second in September 2017. They aim to assist service providers in launching or scaling up their businesses in Antwerp.
The extensive support that SMtA provides includes the promotion of the services and project-specific implementation guidance, such as advice on locations and regulations and the sharing of relevant data. Successful projects can also benefit financially: the City of Antwerp earmarked €500,000 for this in its 2017 budget.
Call for tender to find mobility solutions for traffic reduction:
In 2016, a call for tenders was launched to find mobility solutions that can bring about a sustainable reduction in traffic movement during Antwerp's rush hour.
As with the other participation streams, partners benefit from comprehensive guidance, alongside financial compensation according to the extent to which they reduce traffic movements.
Originally launched in September 2016, over 40 partners were part of the Marketplace as of September 2017. More continue to join. The services offered include car and bike sharing systems and innovative logistics solutions, such as using canals to transport goods.
Following the initial project call, 10 projects were selected. They offer a mix of passenger- and freight-focused solutions, cover various transport modes, and seek to achieve different results. That might be a modal shift, a change in the location where something occurs, a reduction in the time taken to complete a specific process, or an increase in a service's efficiency.
The projects that were picked out include:
- Blue Line Logistics, which runs an innovative inland navigation ship that serves as an alternative way of transporting palletised goods using inland waterways.
- Avantida - a platform to prevent the transportation of empty freight containers. They receive money for each empty container they prevent being transported.
- Mellow Cabs, which offers a first-to-last-mile passenger solution based around compact electric vehicles. They receive advice on taxi and traffic regulations.
In 2016, a call for tenders was launched to find mobility solutions with major impact. Four mobility providers were chosen:
- Innovactory and its travel planning app "TimesUpp";
- Olympus Mobility's and Belfius AutoLease's Mobility as a Service app;
- Advier/Localise and their travel assistance app.
The Marketplace has a positive, entrepreneurial atmosphere in which private and public partners co-create socially relevant solutions. In this way, it acts as a laboratory for mobility solutions.
It is not only the financial incentives persuading private partners to join, but also the value of a having representative in and guide to how the city administration works.
All instruments utilise a results-driven approach - no impact means no financial gain. Service providers thus approach innovation from a new angle: how can risk be minimised by launching new services/appealing to new customer groups? It also often leads to a good return on public investment.
There is a focus on standardised methods and instruments, and transferability. Yet the Marketplace also supports a diverse range of solutions and utilises project-specific approaches. Balancing standardisation and a tailored approach seems to lead to optimal results.
To read more about the Marketplace, click here.
To find out about more about Antwerp's role in the CIVITAS PORTIS project, click here.
For more information, please contact Chris van Maroey at Stad Antwerpen - firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credit: © Noortje Palmers