The 61st UITP World Congress & Exhibition came to a close last week and showed a buoyant public transport sector ready to affront the challenges facing it.

More than 2,200 delegates from 83 countries and 284 exhibitors from across the industry (attracting more than 15,000 single-entry visitors to the Exhibition) gathered in the Italian city of Milan and the mood was one of ambition faced with the challenges of: financing; the arrival of new mobility services; infrastructure needs in smart and growing cities; the impact on cities of new vehicle and IT technologies and focusing on customer service.

The plenary session meanwhile demonstrated the drive within the sector to continue developing the market share of public transport and shone a light on some of the successful urban policies that are already bearing fruit in some major cities, such as Vienna, Oslo, London, Paris and Geneva. Successful measures to control urban sprawl and reduce private car transport in these cities led to an increase in public transport modal share of more than 20%.

In a reflection of the increasing complementarity between public transport and other sectors CEOs from the likes of SNCF (Guillaume Pepy), Trenitalia (Vincenzo Soprano), Arriva (David Martin), Transdev (Jean-Marc Janaillac), Keolis (Jean-Pierre Farandou), RTA (Matter Al Tayer), LTA (Chew Men Leong), MTR (Lincoln Kwok Kuen Leong), TfL (Sir Peter Hendy), Jordanian Transport Minister (H.E. Dr. Lina Shbeeb), CasaTransports (Youseff Draiss), RATP (Elisabeth Borne), RATP Dev (François-Xavier Perin), Iveco Bus (Sylvain Blaise) and Evobus (Hartmut Schick) rubbed shoulders with the likes of policy watchers, bureaucrats and technology trendsetters including both Uber and Moovit not to mention, for the very first time, a selection of city leaders from the likes of Montreal, Brussels, Johannesburg, Milan and Turin.

With the closing of the event came other news: to reflect what is already the biggest event in public transport’s growth in stature, the World Congress & Exhibition will become the ‘Global Public Transport Summit’ in time for the next edition in 2017 in Montreal: the same event but with even larger ambitions.

“The diversity of the attendees at this World Congress & Exhibition reflects both the buoyancy of the sector and its increasing overlap with other sectors,” said UITP Secretary General Alain Flausch. “With our new President, Mr. Masaki Ogata from JR East, now at the helm as we look towards the next edition in Montreal, we hope to continue to build on this optimism and see public transport in even ruder health in two years’ time”.

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