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A new approach to public transport as a way to improve the quality of life.
City/Region : The City and Commune of Ostrów Wielkopolski , Poland

The authorities of Ostrów Wielkopolski have undertaken a number of initiatives to modernize urban transport in the city. The goal is to develop ecological public transport, improve air quality, reduce traffic, promote bike usage and use new technologies.

Electric mobility gained popularity in 2017, however despite the short time frame, many sustainable transport initiaitves have already been introduced. The city is currently implementing 2 projects valued at 63 million PLN, 46 million PLN of which is coming from EU funding. Projects include: electric buses  (one of the first in Greater Poland), city bike stations, an Interchange Centre and Park&Ride parking.  These activities lead to lasting change, as evidenced by a number of users.

Agendas addressed
Urban mobilityWater resources and air qualityPublic space
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
Context
The City Hall/ Electric bus charched with biomass produced by a municipal company

Ostrów Wielkopolski has a population of 72,000. Like other cities, Ostrów is struggling with many problems - traffic jams during rush hour, air pollution and residents choosing to use their car as their main mode of transport.

By introducing an urban mobility programme, the city authorities have set themselves the goal of improving air quality, and promoting an alternative vehicle to the car. Applied solutions influenced the improvement of the transport system. Buses in the city center were replaced with zero-emission electric buses, which are charged with electricity produced by a municipal owned biomass plant. City bikes encourage residents to cycle. The Interchange Center, which encourages residents to leave their car and change to a bus or bicycle, is under construction. The project is innovative. Electric buses and other elements of the project are the first solutions of this type in the city, and, to a large extent, in Greater Poland.

https://umostrow.pl/news/era-ostrowskiej-elektromobilnosci-rozpoczeta.html

https://umostrow.pl/news/ostrowski-rower-miejski-stacje-zamontowane.html

https://umostrow.pl/aktualnosci/ruszyla-budowa-centrum-przesiadkowego.html

In Action
The City Hall/ Electric Buses

- The implemented project has changed the perception of mobility in the city. Modernized urban transport has not only improved the comfort of travel, but It has also created equal access to transport, by adapting it to people with disabilities and senior citizens, but above all it has created a positive ecological result. The buses traveling in the city centre are emission-free. The comprehensive nature of the project led to the achievement of permanent changes at many levels - from the creation of  city bike stations, through to Park&​​Ride parking, new bicycle paths, Intelligent Transport Systems, and Interchange Center - says Beata Klimek, Mayor of the City.

The project was implemented in stages. One of the first elements was a new approach to the mobility policy by the Municipal Transportation Company, which systematically buys new vehicles that meet the highest standards, thus exchanging the worn-out bus stock. Another element was the introduction of “Ostrów Electronic Ticket”, which can be charged virtually. Next, the city introduced mobile applications allowing transport users to check bus timetables, and finally they installed electronic boards at bus stops.

In 2017, the era of electromobility began in Ostrów. The city is implementing a project, which consists of:  modern Interchange Center, Park&Ride parking, city bike stations, bike repair points. An important element is the Intelligent Traffic Management System, which allows for the effect of the "green wave" on traffic lights for the buses. As part of the project, street lighting has been extended and modernized on two housing estates. The city bought 10 electric buses. The project is implemented with the support of EU funds.

- Electric buses are emission-free, which is important in the context of the fight against smog. Vehicles are powered by ecological energy produced by a Municipal Heat Distribution Company, what gives a double ecological effect. In other cities energy is usually obtained from coal combustion. Ostrow's solution is the first of its kind in Poland. Electric buses are just one of the elements in the fight against smog and have a positive effect on the air quality - explains Janusz Marczak, President of the Municipal Transportation Company.

In Ostrów, through the regular creation of bicycle paths, residents are encouraged to use bikes, thus using bikes instead of cars as their primary mode of transport. There are around 40 km of bicycle paths in the city. On the streets, gradually, there are also "contraflows" that allow to move "against the tide".

The project, through a comprehensive and multi-component nature, will ultimately cover the whole city.

Results
The City Hall/ Passenger Information System and new bus shelter

The project assumes:

1. Construction of 1 Interchange Center.
2. Purchase of 10 electric buses and 6 with diesel engines EURO 6.
3. Installation of 4 city bike stations with 30 parking places and 20 bicycles; bicycle repair points.
4. Installation of 25 electronic Passenger Information boards and 50  bus shelters.
6. Implementation of the Intelligent Traffic Management System.

The project managed to achieve lasting changes:

1. The project contributes to the improvement of air quality. Thanks to zero-emission buses the level of air pollution in the city center is decreasing;
2. Electric buses are loaded with electricity from biomass produced by a municipal company. The price of energy is lower than its purchase from energy companies. The first two months since the introduction of electric buses have brought savings. Analysis shows that over a year, with 4 electric buses, the city can save around PLN 500 000.
3. Equal access to public transport. Buses are adapted for disabled users, with space and ramp for wheelchairs made available, floor lowering function; "STOP" braille buttons.
4. Thanks to the creation of the Interchange Center (opening in September 2018) and the Park&​​Ride parking (under construction) residents can leave cars at parking lots and transfer onto public transport.
5. The Electronic Ticket was introduced. In 2015, the system counted 24 265 users. The ticket can be charged virtually. Passengers can buy a ticket via the "CallPay" application.
6. The project uses new technologies. Thanks to the "myBus online" application, the passenger receives online information about bus departures/arrivals. Two applications were also launched – citizens can pay parking in Paid Parking Zone via SMS/ Internet.
7. Electronic information boards show real time departure of buses.
8. On many residential streets, an "inhabited area" is introduced (speed limits reduced to 20km /h).

Impact

The implementation of the project has allowed for lasting and long-term change. One of the significant changes is the ecological effect, which - according to analysis- will be achieved by 2020. Electric buses driving on city streets will contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. The estimated annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 is 617.36 tonnes of equivalent CO 2 / year.

The implementation of the project will contribute to the improvement of travel conditions for senior citizens and  people with disabilities, which  - thanks to the introduced facilities -  will have easier access to public transport. The buses include such facilities  as: voice notifications, ramps for wheelchairs, non-slip floors, door opening / closing Braille buttons.

The effect of the project’s implementation is to improve the condition and reliability of the bus stock and infrastructure, and thus the quality of public transport in Ostrów Wielkopolski. The old bus stock is being replaced by  new buses that meet the highest standards. Modern buses and other elements are purchased to encourage residents to use public transport, including ticket machines, passenger information boards. The construction of bicycle paths and the separation of car traffic from cycling will help to enable traffic to flow more smoothly; and road safety will increase.

A built-in Interchange Center and a Park&Ride parking, the first of its kind in the city, will encourage residents and visitors to leave their car and use bicycles or public transport instead. It is assumed that 351 377 people will benefit from the new, integrated hubs in 2020.

The number of passengers on new and newly rebuilt public transport lines will also increase. In 2020, this number will amount to 61 459 people.

The Intelligent Traffic Management System, which gives “green light” to public transport, will help to achieve real time information on bus arrivals/departures.

Challenges and lessons learned

The project may be interesting for other cities. Its preparation required indication of  areas in which the existing activities fail.

One of the problems was well-worn bus stock. The city is exchanging the bus stock for a new one. Another  problem was traffic jams/congestion. The city organizes campaigns which encourage residents to use bicycles/ urban transport and offers new solutions such as city ​​bikes. Improvement of air quality was one of the reasons behind the introduction of this project.

The municipal budget wouldn’t allow the project to be financed by municipal funds alone, so the city secured external funds from the EU.

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