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Juan José Pons Izquierdo, Professor of Geography at the University of Navarra and member of committee Social of Territorial Politics

mobility a commitment to change

Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:45:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

The new regional mobility plan that has just been proposed by the Mancomunidad is an ambitious project, whose goal is to reverse the current status loss of passengers, which collective transport has been suffering in recent years.

Unlike the first five regional transport plans, which have been developed consecutively since 1999, the new project that has just been unveiled is revolutionary, it aims at a real transformation of the mobility of the area Metropolitan Pamplona. And I say, "transformation of the mobility" to purpose, because it goes far beyond mere changes in the network of regional buses. If carried out, this plan would have a considerable impact on other means of transport and on the design and functioning of some of the most important avenues and streets of the city. In final, a real revolution in what refers to our urban mobility system and a paradigm shift in the planning of the regional transport network , accustomed only to minor tweaks of the original outline and the logical extensions to new neighborhoods.

This new plan is the result of an extensive study of the mobility in the region, developed over the last two years, which has included an exhaustive survey conducted in their homes to citizens and a modeling study of the trips they make.

Given the impact it will have on the city, it is a pity that this regional urban transport plan proposal does not cover other aspects of the mobility, but this is clearly not its function. In this regard, we will always miss an instrument such as the failed Sustainable Urban mobility Plan of the Pamplona Region, which would have been the appropriate framework for a more comprehensive approach .

The most striking content of the proposal is the creation of a central core of three high-capacity bus lines or BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). These infrastructures are characterized by having a reserved platform, larger vehicles (probably bi-articulated, if we want to reach 24 m. long buses as announced), prioritization at intersections, fast access to vehicles (through a level platform and with ticket cancellation before entering the bus), etc. This subject of systems allows a very high transport capacity, while increasing the commercial speed and reliability of the system. As has been said these days, it is a sort of "streetcar without tramway", since it has many of its advantages, but at a much lower cost and a simplicity of implementation and flexibility superior to those offered by this means.

To be precise, it should be noted that proposal is not entirely new. In 2008, when the idea of building a tramway was discarded, there was talk of a system of these characteristics (it was then called "metrobus"), as a possible alternative for transport in the urban area of Pamplona.

To take up again at the present time a project of such importance is very appropriate, since the political groups have the opportunity to position themselves on it in the run-up to the elections. The importance of the matter and the long term vision deadline that a topic like this requires, would make a broad consensus among the groups very convenient, away from partisan interests.

Society is ripe to assume that the achievement of a healthier and more sustainable urban environment requires changes of some depth and -sometimes also some sacrifices. The example of other nearby cities, which have successfully reoriented their model of mobility urban , should encourage us to make bold decisions with sufficient capacity to transform the current reality.

The project presented by the Mancomunidad needs to be studied, debated, and -probably nuanced, but I have no doubt that it is going in the right direction and if it is finally carried out it will mean a great advance for Pamplona and for all its metropolitan surroundings.