The letter was addressed to the president of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Council, Mr Charles Michel, and president of the European Parliament, Mr David Maria Sassoli, and follows an open letter sent last month by the UITP, Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Mangers (CER), Polis, Eurocities, and the permanent delegation to the EU (IRU).

The latest letter from the UITP says that with the progressive resumption of services expected in the coming days and weeks, the sector is facing multiple complex challenges in order to play its part in post-lockdown strategies.

The public transport sector will have to adapt to the phasing out of travel restrictions and the phasing in of various types of activities as the entire sector will have to fight to survive the crisis. Operators will also need to rebuild trust in public transport in the post-Covid-19 period and, ultimately, come out the other side stronger.

The association outlined three areas of concern, with the first brought about by the resumption of traffic.

“Though the pandemic is still active, it is important to anticipate the progressive lifting of the lockdown and prepare to swiftly resume operations in due time,” the UITP says. “However, many issues will have to be addressed before public transport services can be operated in full capacity to answer the demand for mobility. These include rules on the wearing of masks, social-distancing, protecting workers and communicating with passengers.”


The second concern focuses on the urgent measures the UITP says are needed at the EU level to preserve the public transport ecosystem.

“The first available data, from various European member states, show that the passenger transport sector’s ecosystem will be heavily affected,” the UITP says. “The impact relates not only to the decrease in farebox revenues but the additional costs needed to implement the necessary measures in public transport vehicles and infrastructure.

“In order to limit these social, economic and financial consequences, exceptional targeted measures will need to be adopted at the EU level and rapidly deployed.

“Substantial EU financing and grants to the public transport sector are critical if we want to overcome the looming recession and ensure at least the pre-crisis levels of services. This refers not only to the mid-term, post-lockdown perspective, but also to the long-run sustainability ambitions foreseen by the European Green Deal.”

Green Deal

This emphasis on suitability was echoed by the third issue raised in the letter, which calls for the EU to strongly reaffirm the Green Deal to ensure climate change stays high on the political agenda.

“Public transport is and will be a key sector for both the economic recovery and the achievement of the Green Deal objectives,” the UITP says. “The European Green Deal remains Europe's most important sustainable growth strategy. The lesson from the Covid-19 crisis is that early action is essential and this lesson also applies to the fight against climate change and other sustainability risks.

“As the economy recovers, it should be steered towards a Green Deal compatible growth. Given the economic consequences that the sustainable public transport sector is facing due to the crisis, it is vital that the EU prioritise political and financial support for sustainable urban modes of transport.”