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Communication is key

Posted: 19 September 2005 | Roberto Cavalieri, UITP President and Managing Director of Me.Ro.spa, Rome | No comments yet

Once again the public transport sector has been targeted by terrorism. After Tokyo, Madrid and Moscow, this time it was London, and it is only due to the very good organisation of the emergency teams and preparedness of British commuters that the number of victims, although still too high, did not rise further.

Mobility has become a crucial part of everyday life, so the London attack showed again how vital and important public transport is in our modern societies: the subway trains and platforms as well as the busses are parts of our living and working structures as the living rooms at home or the offices at work are. Targeting innocent commuters means to shock them while they are performing daily activities – harmless and without protection.

Once again the public transport sector has been targeted by terrorism. After Tokyo, Madrid and Moscow, this time it was London, and it is only due to the very good organisation of the emergency teams and preparedness of British commuters that the number of victims, although still too high, did not rise further.Mobility has become a crucial part of everyday life, so the London attack showed again how vital and important public transport is in our modern societies: the subway trains and platforms as well as the busses are parts of our living and working structures as the living rooms at home or the offices at work are. Targeting innocent commuters means to shock them while they are performing daily activities – harmless and without protection.

Once again the public transport sector has been targeted by terrorism. After Tokyo, Madrid and Moscow, this time it was London, and it is only due to the very good organisation of the emergency teams and preparedness of British commuters that the number of victims, although still too high, did not rise further.

Mobility has become a crucial part of everyday life, so the London attack showed again how vital and important public transport is in our modern societies: the subway trains and platforms as well as the busses are parts of our living and working structures as the living rooms at home or the offices at work are. Targeting innocent commuters means to shock them while they are performing daily activities – harmless and without protection.

The only truly effective way to cope with this new menace, without doubt, is to be prepared. And being prepared means to pressure the local and national Governments to invest more in public transport, especially now in the case of security. It also means to strengthen communication, certainly between the operators themselves, plus those who produce and those who use public transport.

The reinforcement of our communication and lobbying as a sector to decision-makers and the general public alike has to become a priority issue of our activities. We need to reach our customers and explain to them what we are doing and why it is important for them, a process in which constant feed-back is crucial. In a fast-evolving society, the direct link with final users is the most important thing to achieve. In spite of our lobbying activity, public transport has neither the money nor the ‘image’ enjoyed by private mobility. We certainly cannot afford massive advertising campaigns. It’s not easy to ‘sell’ something that, in a greater part of the civilisation, has become as normal as eating, walking and breathing. Therefore, we have to exercise increasingly effective big lobbying pressure on politicians and administrators to remind them, daily, that heavily financing public transport is the only affordable answer to the social, economic and environmental needs of the global community.

We must prepare a better world for today’s youth, a sector that by definition will become the decision-makers and customers of tomorrow. History has all too often proved how a generation lost between aspirations and fear proves to be an easy target for extremists of all kinds. In order to engage with them, our communication and our actions have to be creative; we have to show how ‘cool’ it can be. We cannot rely on the fact that public transport is a fixed point in the structure of our societies. Certainly one way to attract the youth on busses and subway trains and to ensure they become loyal life-time customers lies in such examples as the London Mayor’s support of the scheme to grant free public transport to people aged under 16 and generous concessions to students up to 18 years old.

In any case, as someone already stated, ‘communication is the key’: the key to our future, to our children’s future and to public transport gaining the higher profile it deserves in everyone’s minds.

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