|GP/OP: Developing a Sustainable Urban Transport Plan for Skopje - Macedonia|
The Macedonian capital of Skopje is home to over 600,000 inhabitants and has a history dating back more than 2,000 years. Skopje is a modern city combining contemporary architecture with a well preserved and restored old city. However, Skopje has been experiencing significant traffic problems. Between 1989 and 2006, public transport use declined by 60%, whereas the modal share of cars increased (in terms of trips) from 25% to 38%. This has led to increased air pollution and noise, as well as less green space and adverse effects on the city from a cultural and historical perspective.
Objectives / Innovative AspectsAs part of CIVITAS RENAISSANCE, a sustainable urban transport plan was developed for the city of Skopje. The ultimate aim of the project was to improve the quality of life in Skopje by delivering a more efficient and environmentally friendly transport system. One of the intended outputs was a well defined, long-term, viable transport plan; the other was that there was a good understanding and acceptance of the plan, particularly amongst the most important stakeholders relevant for its adoption.
The process underlying the development of the plan was innovative, as it aimed to change the way in which professionals and politicians thought about developing a transport plan for the city. The other innovative element was the development of a sustainable urban transport plan for a city in Macedonia. Previously, no city in the country had developed such a plan. Hence, the plan will provide a good example for other cities in the country to follow and has already attracted interest from other cities.
The MeasureThe development of the plan had five main stages:
• Review of the relevant experience from other cities.
• Analysis of the existing transport system in Skopje.
• Preparation of a Draft Plan.
• Distribution and discussion of the Draft Plan with stakeholders at a workshop.
• Preparation of the Final Plan to be submitted to the city Council for adoption.
The project began in November 2008 and was completed in September 2011. The Council of the City of Skopje has since adopted the plan and will now implement its measures. The research and development stages were mainly performed by the experts and scienciests from the Faculty for Technical Sciences, supported by the City of Skopje administration of the Department of traffic.
As noted above, the development of the plan included engagement with relevant stakeholder groups. This engagement led to an increase in the understanding of the concept of sustainable transport (as measured in ‘before’ and ‘after’ surveys), as well as a high level of acceptance of the Final Plan amongst stakeholders (86% fully supported it).
The plan itself contains a section on the concept of sustainable urban transport, as well as an analysis of the problems faced by Skopje’s transport system. It also contains an outline of the measures that will be implemented, which are divided into eight groups each of which corresponds to a specific problem that was identified. At the most basic level, it was identified that one problem was that there was no coordination between urban/land use and transport planning. Other problems included a low level of quality of service provided by the city’s public transport system; low levels of safety and high levels of pollution; a lack of measures to capitalise on the high potential for cycling in the city; and a low level of access to the city’s cultural and historical sites; as well as problems with parking and the distribution of goods in the city.
In response, legislative and institutional measures were identified to better coordinate land use and transport planning. Measures will also be introduced to improve public transport, including changes to the organisation and management of public transport, to renew the fleet, to construct a tram network, to introduce ‘park and ride’ schemes, real time information and smart ticketing, as well as to redesign the bus stops. Other measures to be introduced include traffic calming, infrastructure for bicycles and a ‘rent-a-bike’ scheme, the development of tourist routes by bus and bicycle, as well as measures to improve city logistics and parking. The plan also has a section aimed at raising public awareness of sustainability. Improve quality of life, while enhancing economic performance and tourism, preserving the heritage and operation capability of the city