The COVID-19 pandemic is re-defining our approach to public transport. From modernizing our transport systems to highlighting sectors vital for our society – Commissioner Vălean outlines the EU’s plan to build back better, and get passengers back on board.
I am often asked how my priorities have changed in light of COVID-19. It is true that the sector was hit particularly hard by the global health crisis and national measures taken to prevent the virus spreading. Obviously the sector needs a great deal of support to get back on its feet, and we stand more than ready to provide this. But it is also true that our priorities from before the pandemic struck – of making transport sustainable and embracing digitalisation – are no less important today than they were at the start of the year.
The challenges posed by climate change and international competition have not gone away and this is why, as we look ahead to rebuilding our transport sector, we need to seize this opportunity to build back better – to make our transport system more sustainable, more efficient, and more resilient. We need resilience to known threats such as climate change and pandemics, as well as to currently unknown threats.
More resilient public transport
In the short term, as we restore transport, we are following a two-pronged approach. We are focusing on the conditions needed to resume services and restore public confidence on the one hand, and ensuring that safety is never com-promised on the other. Once transport is operating at full speed once again, we will be much better placed to address other economic impacts.
Longer-term, resilience means modernization and decarbonization. Both will form the basis of our Strategy on Sustainable and Smart Mobility, which we will publish before the end of the year. We are currently examining the responses received to our public consultation, before finalizing the document.