Delegates discuss the future of light rail in the 2023 summit
Barcelona was the setting for this year’s UITP Global Public Transport Summit where people from 110 countries attended. There were over 300 exhibitors from 41 countries, over 400 speakers and over 2500 visitors. 
The new President of UITP was inaugurated at the event. Renée Amilcar, the General Manager of OC TRANSPO in Ottawa, Canada, was officially voted into office as UITP’s first female President in the association’s 138-year history. 
As General Manager of OC TRANSPO since 2021, Renee has 20 years of experience across public transport, and is a respected figure among our membership. Looking ahead to her tenure as president, Reneé noted that: “sustainability is more than talking about climate change. It’s about creating a strong coalition of leaders creating a better future.” 
Sustainability was the key message at this year’s event with many companies highlighting how they intend to make public transport more sustainable, affordable whilst keeping costs down but by still offering a first-rate service to the public. Many companies took the opportunity to promote their products and services that will help with the increase in demand for public transport over the coming years. 
The 2023 UITP winners were also announced at the event, all coveted prizes in public transport at a ceremony on the Sunday evening. The winners coming from different categories, these being Climate & Health, Design, Diversity & Inclusion, Marketing Campaign, Multimodal Integration, Operational Excellence, Public & Urban Transport Strategy, Technological innovation, and Young Researchers. 
Companies including Trapeze, who talked their operations and maintenance and rail sustainability, Tram Barcelona talking about their efficient transport systems, Forsee Power regarding how batteries are essential to mitigate climate change, Hitachi Rail talking about digital transformation and asset management, the many companies on the Spanish Pavilion stand highlighting their works to offer more sustainable and innovative public transportation, highlighting the experience in the sectors, how railways can be strategic in the development of public transport and the good practices and lessons leant within Spanish public transport. 
There was plenty of modern technology on display including digital and acoustic passenger information systems, asset management, digital twins, ticketing systems, software and hardware systems, driver assistance systems, big data and AI, battery technology, hydrogen power, electrification systems, safety products, intelligent transport systems, lighting systems and much more. 
The event attracts operators and manufacturers, consultants, technology companies, signalling, track, alternative power companies and many of the supply chain companies across all the transport modes globally. 
ATUC started the Tuesday at the event with a session covering public transport in urban mobility which covered the challenges we face to get more people to take public transport for many reasons including health, education, and general moveability. Whilst public transport needs to improve generally, it remains the answer for all. This was relevant for all of us and highlighted the similar issues that we have been experiencing. 
Two major Latin American cities discussed the issues that both Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires have been facing following the pandemic to increase ridership across the different modes of transport, the investment being made into the infrastructure and the encouragement of active mobility that has increased since the pandemic. Various factors have played a role in the numbers being slower to come back to public transport, a key one being the many people that now regularly work from home. Both cities have bought more buses and BRT fleets and Buenos Aires are investing in the aging metro system. Safety has been improved too on the routes to improve the overall appeal. 
Cable cars, buses, electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles/pods, trams, and a superb collection of historic vehicles were all to be seen at this year’s event. 
Delegates at UITP Global Transport Summit discuss the future of light rail and urban transit
Delegates at UITP Global Transport Summit discuss the future of light rail and urban transit (Geoff Butler) 
Hochbahn talked about the metro network extension in Hamburg which was fitting as the 2025 and 2027 UITP events will take place in the German city. Hamburg aims to increase the modal share for public transport, cycling and walking to 80% by 2030, from 64% in 2017. Anjes Tjarks, Senator for Transport and Mobility Transition in Hamburg said, “We want to turn Hamburg into a human-friendly city”. He commented that the biggest challenge facing public transport today is to increase supply and demand while also improving quality, reliability, and comfort and this is something that Hamburg is embracing. 
The Secretary General of UITP, Mohamed Mezghani summed up this event by highlighting the fact that it’s the people that make the transportation sector what it is. With collaboration with one another, learning and sharing ideas we are all striving to achieve the same goal. He was full of praise to everyone attending saying that they had helped to safeguard the sense of the purpose of our industry, and contributed to taking public transport to the next level. 
Pictured: One of the many vehicles on display was a cable car as above-POMA and LEITNER's ropeway vehicle. 
Written by Geoff Butler - Customer Account Manager at Mainspring. 
We are THE experts in light rail across the globe. Whether you need information regarding entering the marketplace, positioning yourself within the market or exploring the latest opportunities across the LRT world, we can help. Contact us today by clicking here! 
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