The HARMONY project under the CIVITAS initiative, an EU-funded programme working to make sustainable and smart mobility a reality for all, just published Guidelines on Modelling tools for Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in the new mobility era. The aim is to provide local planning authorities with guidance on transport modelling applications in their Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) implementation process, useful to assess new mobility technologies impacts in the urban environment.
These guidelines will help public authority planners and practitioners from various levels of government (from local/city level to regional, national, and European), with a broad variation in their level of expertise in relation to mobility and planning, to answer to the following questions:
- What transport models are?
- What transport models can do?
- What are their challenges and limits?
- Is a transport model really needed to draft a SUMP?
- What kind of model should be used?
- What are the development steps of a model? When such steps are to be taken within the SUMP planning cycle?
- What are the roles and responsibilities when developing a transport model to support a SUMP?
Therefore, the document provides guidance on:
- Classification, purposes and limits of transport models. The document provides a clear understanding of transport models: 1) a definition and classification of transport models (micro, macro, network, strategic, land-use, activity based, etc.); 2) an understanding of the purposes and functions of transport models (to do experiments, anticipate the effect of exogenous trends and assess policy measures); and 3) an analysis of transport models’ challenges and limits (data availability, realism vs operability, managing trend breaks and innovative solutions, etc.).
- The need for using a transport model to support the definition of a SUMP. As there are alternative methodologies (such as qualitative analysis, parametric estimations, surveys), these Guidelines help to decide whether a transport model is required or not to support the definition of a SUMP. This depends on the specific circumstances, such as the complexity of the mobility context, the details of the measures, the need for impacts estimation, data availability, access to expertise in transport modelling, financial resources and time availability, etc. The Guidelines present checklists to guide in taking a decision.
- The selection of the type of transport model, assuming that this is considered the appropriate way to proceed. There are different types of transport models, more or less articulated, with different capabilities (e.g., strategic model, network model, land-use model, etc.). Some models are more appropriate than others in supporting the development of a SUMP. Also in this case, the Guidelines present checklists to guide in taking a decision.
- The development process of transport model in practice. Developing a transport model is a process requiring skills, data, time and resources. The guidelines describe the five main phases: 1) design, 2) data collection and elaboration, 3) implementation, 4) calibration, and 5) application.
- Roles and responsibilities in developing a transport model to support a SUMP. Transport models are developed by experts (modellers) holding the required knowledge and experience as well as the necessary specialised software. In addition to modellers, other actors play a role: the local authority, who should be the owner of the model and holds the political responsibility of the content of the SUMP; the planner team, the technical arm of the local authority regarding the definition of the content of the SUMP; and stakeholders, including transport operators (e.g., the providers of urban and non-urban public transport, car-sharing companies, etc.), specific categories of citizens like cyclists, disabled people, retailers and so on. They represent interests that can be affected by the plan.
The document has been drafted by TRT Trasporti e Territorio within the HARMONY project, as part of the WP8 (Process assessment, SUMPs recommendations and roadmaps) activities, and takes advantage from the project achievements related to the development of the HARMONY Model Suite and its application to case studies in Rotterdam (NL), Oxfordshire (UK), Turin (IT), Athens (GR).