Cleaner Italian public transport promised

Association signs agreement with environment ministry to reduce urban pollution

Italy's local public transport association, Federtrasporti, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the environment ministry to help curb private car use by increasing levels of service. The association is also to reduce the environmental impact of buses and aims to improve quality of service in an attempt to make public transport a more attractive alternative to private vehicles.

The announcement, which was made last week during a joint press conference at the environment ministry, follows recent measures taken by environment minister Edo Ronchi to promote the use of fuel-efficient vehicles (ENDS Daily 3 April). Under the agreement, the environment ministry undertakes not only to fund the introduction of low-impact vehicles, but also to liaise with other ministries and local authorities to promote more sustainable transport arrangements in major cities.

Federtrasporti's pledge to "go at war with noise and air pollution in big cities," in the words of its chairman Enrico Mingardi, was prompted by the recent release of official data on the state of the environment. This showed high levels of noise and air pollution in Italy's largest cities.

The association has also offered its support to local authorities in devising mobility plans for companies employing more than 300 people, a requirement introduced by the government's recent decree on "sustainable urban mobility". The environment ministry will fund this initiative with IL7bn (Ecu3.6m), while another IL14bn will be invested to support car sharing arrangements and the use of collective taxes.

A packet of financial incentives currently awaiting parliamentary approval has earmarked IL1,760bn in the three-year period to 2000 for the purchase of 4,500 new buses. Five per cent of this amount should be set against the purchase of electric or gas-fuelled buses. Another IL25bn will be made available by the environment ministry for the purchase of 250 low-impact vehicles. The ministry has also launched a campaign to encourage people to use public transport instead of cars.

Follow Up:
Federtrasporti: tel +39 6 68 60 35 06; Italian environment ministry: tel: +39 6 70361.

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