Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


MIRACLES Report Summary

Project ID: 11953
Funded under: FP5-GROWTH
Country: Italy

Improving urban mobility

The Miracles project have implemented the following measures grouped according to the Civitas policy fields:

- clean public and private fleets;
- collective passenger transport;
- integrated pricing strategies;
- innovative soft measures;
- access restriction;
- new forms of vehicle use and ownership;
- new concepts for the distribution of goods;
- integration of transport management systems.

The global impacts at city level of the measures implemented are reported below.

1) Economy

In general, it was difficult to draw unequivocal conclusions because of the large number of Miracles measures and their different grades of implementation. In Rome, the objective was to assess operating / maintenance costs of the Miracles measures per capita, and a value of just less than EUR 1 per inhabitant was estimated. For many measures, the benefits increased as the scale of implementation grew. This was especially so for administrators who can save resources and increase incomes by enlarging the small-scale Miracles implementations. Conversely, the value of EUR 1 per person may represent a limit for the feasibility of further measures: any intervention more expensive than this could be assumed to be affordable only if it achieved added value.

In Winchester, there was no evidence that the Miracles measures influenced the number of employees or accommodation bookings, although bus company revenues did increase. This was partly attributable to the Miracles improvements made to the quality and information of the services, but an increase in fare raises, frequency (of one service) and lower maintenance costs were also partly responsible.

In Barcelona, patronage of the tramway doubled during the first 18 months of operation. In addition, the supermarket operator's investment in quieter vehicles and unloading methods achieved operational savings estimated to lead to an investment return within three years. Regarding the access restriction measure, it was considered that ANPR technology (if fully implemented) can reduce the maintenance costs associated with the traditional bollard technology.

In Cork, it was considered that the Miracles measures definitely aided the city economy regarding business, tourism and travel, although any economic benefits were difficult to quantify in isolation from parallel projects such as the 'City of culture 2005' and 'Green routes' (quality bus corridors). Miracles acted as a catalyst for advancing the implementation of planned major city improvements such as the successful redesign of St Patrick's Street and the construction of the new 'park and ride' facility, and to promote inner city shopping and tourism. For instance, there were significant increases in the number of pedestrians using St. Patrick's Street and the numbers of tourists visiting Cork.

2) Energy

It was again difficult to provide incontrovertible evidence that Miracles resulted in a city-wide energy reduction at any of the sites. In Rome, although fuel consumption decreased during the project time-scale, this was largely as a result of other parallel measures such as the general renewal of the private car fleet supported by national policies and by local emergency measures. Incentives were provided by the state for scrapping old cars and replacing them with new ones that were less polluting and more energy efficient.

In Winchester, fuel sales from one filling station showed increases in the proportions of diesel and LPG sold, but LPG sales still only represented about 3% of total fuel sales. It seems that the public is still reluctant to purchase an LPG vehicle (or convert their existing vehicle). This may be because of the high conversion cost, but other potential factors may be perceived limitations with the technology, and the small number of petrol stations that currently sell the fuel.

In Barcelona, an 18 % shift from car to tramway was estimated to represent annual savings of between 57,000 to 163,000 litres of fuel. Regarding the extension of the CNG bus fleet, the standard CNG buses consumed more energy than the diesel reference, but this was not so apparent when the articulated longer CNG buses were used.

In Cork, the use of alternative fuels such as rapeseed oil was demonstrated to be feasible for Cork City Council. 7 % of the fleet were converted, and the council intends to continue using alternative fuels and expanding the clean fleet post-Miracles.

Sustainable commuting was further encouraged through the other Miracles measures which promoted cycling, walking, 'park and ride' and car-pooling. 'Park and ride' was very successful while car pooling was not; it was found that people preferred to organise private car sharing arrangements.

3) Environment

In Rome, the environmental objectives were to improve air quality, reduce noise levels in the city centre, reduce the number of polluting vehicles, and reduce vehicle emissions. All goals were considered to have been met. For instance, CO emissions reduced by about 76 %, particulates and C6H6 emissions by 38 %, and the numbers of non-catalysed vehicles by about 40 %. Although this was partly attributable to a renewal in the circulating private car fleet, it was considered that the whole package of Miracles measures also had some effect. Of particular relevance was the access restriction measure, which permitted only clean, catalysed private vehicles to enter the central areas, along with enforcement of the extension of the yearly inspection of vehicle emissions and of compulsory servicing of motorcycles and mopeds. In addition, the purchase of about 1000 clean buses contributed to the improved environmental conditions. It was recommended that for even greater benefits, all the wide-implementation measures need to be even more widely applied, both in terms of enlarging the implementation area and in improving the relevant control and enforcement procedures.

In Winchester, air pollution levels are greatly affected by weather conditions, which meant that any reductions due to Miracles were very difficult to measure. The city centre has a problem with the levels of NOx, and it is likely that this could be improved if the number of high-polluting vehicles entering the city centre was reduced. There was no evidence that the Miracles measures changed people's perceived views regarding air quality or road traffic noise in Winchester city centre during the period of the project, but as a result of the project they are more aware of the issues involved.

In Barcelona, substantial reductions in pollutant emissions were reported for the CNG bus fleet, and their quieter performance was highly valued. The Rambla access control implementation was calculated to reduce pedestrian delays (when crossing the vehicle traffic) by 15 hours per day. In Cork, the traffic levels through the access-restricted zone reduced by 3 %. The combination of the 'clean zone', 'park and ride' service, increase in cycle facilities (from 8 to 316 cycle stands) in the city centre and awareness raising activities of sustainable transport all aided in the improvement of the city environment. Public perception of air and noise pollution in the city centre also improved, which should make the city centre safer and more attractive to pedestrians thereby promoting inner city shopping and tourism.

3) Society

An objective of all the cities was to increase awareness of the Miracles measures and support for sustainable transport in general. This objective was met: for instance, all cities reported significant increases in awareness of the Miracles and Civitas logos (as reported within the relevant measure level templates), although the numbers were still relatively small (typically 15-20 % of the ex-post survey sample).

There were higher levels of awareness of the individual measures. For example, in Cork, the number of respondents aware of one, two, or three Miracles measures, was 28 %, 30 % and 19 %, respectively. In general, the public were very satisfied with the Miracles measures as evidenced by the high level of satisfaction expressed in the specific measure surveys.

However, it is important to note that awareness and (stated preference) acceptance of an initiative does not necessarily influence travel behaviour. There is a huge difference between accepting the objectives of an initiative and for that individual then prepared to change travel behaviour as a result. For instance, in Winchester, 71 % of the public supported the broad objective of Miracles to promote and influence travel by sustainable transport, but only about 25 % used a mode of sustainable transport on a daily basis.

There was also evidence from parallel initiatives (e.g. the Winchester movement and access plan, which has been ongoing since 1995) that awareness of sustainable transport issues should increase still further in the longer term. In Winchester, there was little evidence that the Miracles measures had affected broad transport issues such as ease of access to city centre or road safety (for non-car modes). In addition, broader societal issues such as public perception of security or crime rates / types in the city centre were not influenced by Miracles.

Diverse methods were employed to promote sustainable transport options including demonstration days, cycle safety training, advertisements, competitions, leaflets, posters, website promotion etc... It was generally found that a mixture of methods was best at reaching a range of different audiences. For instance, in Cork, advertising and a prolonged media campaign for many measures (particularly park and ride) along with the integration of Miracles with existing sustainable transport promoting activities increased awareness and acceptance. In Winchester, there was some indication that events such as demonstration days with a high visual presence resulted in the highest levels of awareness.

Cork reported that the Miracles measures encouraged a modal shift from the car through traffic and lane restrictions in the city centre, park and ride provision, cycle facilities, publicity campaigns, etc.. In Winchester, compared to the baseline survey, a significantly higher proportion of respondents in the ex-post survey rated it easy to travel to Winchester city centre using the park and ride service.

In Rome, the survey respondents were grouped into five clusters of citizens regarding their perception of the mobility situation. These clusters were control, confidence, mistrust, anarchy and efficiency. The proportion of ex-post citizens within the 'control' category reduced significantly from the baseline sample, while the proportion of people within the 'anarchy' cluster increased. This was attributed to the introduction of the 'non-popular' measures such as paying for car parking. Indeed, a main finding from the before and after data comparison was that the most successful measures were those which benefited everyone (e.g. the use of public transport or telematics), and do not limit an individual's personal freedom and ability to use private cars. Indeed, it was recommended that the more restrictive a measure, the greater the communication required by the stakeholder to promote the potential benefits of sustainability and over-ride the traditionally strong car-based culture of Rome. A future issue to consider is whether the approach taken to discourage the use of private cars at a political level should be based on restrictions, as currently applied, or in supporting more popular incentives to attract passengers to transit.

Of the Barcelona implemented measures, the CNG bus was rated the highest and the tramway the lowest (possibly because the city-wide survey was undertaken at a time when the tramway was still under construction).

4) Transport

The Miracles measures had negligible transport impacts at the city-wide level. For instance, in Winchester, although was a significant reduction of 16 % at Bar End / Chesil Street due to the opening of the extended park and ride, the overall traffic flows were not significantly reduced on the arterial roads. In addition, journey speeds along five arterial roads did not change appreciably during the project time-scale. There was an encouraging significant reduction of 10 % in the number of ex-post residents stating that they used their car for their daily commute to the city centre. The results again generally imply that although the public are aware and accept the Miracles measures, this does not necessarily translate into positive impacts on the transport network. However, it should be borne in mind that, for many of the measures, the demonstration period was relatively short, and quantifiable transport impacts may only become apparent in the longer term. Traffic flow within the Rome LTZ (during periods of free access) reduced by 25 % during 2001-05. There were also safety benefits in Rome, with the accident fatality rate reduced by almost 50 %.

In Cork, the reduction in lane capacity of St. Patrick's Street from four to two lanes and the expansion of the clean zone aided in creating a safer environment for vulnerable road users and pedestrians, although the modal split will not be available until the 2006 Census information is published. However, the number of pedestrians in the clean zone increased (by 53 % compared to the baseline), as did the number of cyclists (by 47 % across the inner cordon), and so it is anticipated that there will be some alteration in modal split. In Winchester, the number of cycles parked in the city centre increased by 46 % during Miracles, but cycle flows on the arterials decreased by 12 %. In Rome, data from the rail ring area (where all the measures were implemented) showed that there had been a decrease of 5 % in use of private cars, with a 3 % increase in walking and a 1 % increase in public transport. This effect was mainly attributed to the access restriction measure, although other 'niche' measures also contributed.

Encouragingly, compared to the baseline results, Winchester residents among the ex-post questionnaire survey respondents were significantly more likely to state that they walked or cycled to the city centre, and less likely to travel by car. In Cork, City Council employees changed towards more sustainable modes of transport during the course of Miracles, but it proved difficult to persuade people to participate in the car pooling scheme, and parking restrictions were found to be far more effective. Other cities wishing to promote sustainable mobility management should place a heavy emphasis on promoting sustainable mobility before and during the establishment of formal schemes to support sustainable commuting. These campaigns should be highly visible and use a variety of media. It is important to emphasise the environmental, social and financial benefits of switching to more sustainable modes of transport.

In both Cork and Winchester, the Park and Ride services were regarded as being very effective. In Cork, it was originally planned to provide 450 spaces at the Blackash Park and Ride, but in fact more than 900 spaces were provided. By November 2005, there were an average of 500 users per day, and this more than doubled during the pre-Christmas period. Public satisfaction levels with the Park and Ride service were very high: 82 % rated the service as very good, and the remaining 18 % rated it as good or satisfactory. In Winchester, the extension of the St Catherine's Park and Ride car park by 420 spaces enabled ticket sales to increase by 43 % during the lifetime of Miracles. One contributory factor was the associated parking charging policy, which also helped to deter city centre parking. Bus passenger satisfaction ratings increased by 4 % during the Miracles time-scale, and bus punctuality in the Winchester fleet improved.

In Rome, the achievements that could be regarded as being the most successful (e.g. the reduction of private traffic flows and the increased space for pedestrians in the LTZ) mainly involved restrictive measures. However, this assessment was affected by the large scale implementation of measures and additional time is required to really assess the benefits of new forms of transit or use of telematics on the transport pattern. Such a requirement is also shared by the so-called 'niche' measures, which were demonstrated successfully during the Miracles period and hence their implementation can be expanded, both in terms of area and in operating times.

In Barcelona, the Traverssera de Gracia multi-use lane demonstrated peak bus priority, improved off-peak unloading and better traffic circulation, and there were indications that the provision of real-time information at bus stops helped to increase the number of passengers. Of the surveyed tramway passengers, 53 % cited the higher speed as their main reason for using the tramway (followed by features of accessibility).


Maurizio FAGIOLI
Tel.: +39-0657-90226
Fax: +39-0657-40033
Record Number: 45233 / Last updated on: 2010-08-12
Information source:
Collaboration sought: Further research or development support
Stage of development: Results of demonstration trials available