Improving connectivity: how intermodality can boost tourism, cities’ attractiveness, and citizens’ well-being

Jun 25, 2020 | Adrion Short Stories

Multimodal transport – the combining of various transport modes throughout a journey – can increase the use of sustainable types of transport, improve the connectivity of urban and non-urban areas and, as a consequence, boost the attractiveness of touristic destinations.

For instance, digital solutions and integrated planning services offer potential for sustainable, user-friendly and effective multimodal trips. To this end, Inter-connect project focuses on the promotion of combined transport alternatives by proposing a strategy and a detailed action plan including soft mobility measures (e.g. integrated ticketing, harmonized timetables and procedures) to boost rail-sea based passengers transportation in the Adriatic Ionian area.

Go to the project website


Inter-connect will produce 3 specific outputs:

  1. A Strategy on intermodal rail-sea based passengers transportation
  2. An Action Plan on strengthening intermodal passenger transportation for achieving improved and low carbon connectivity
  3. An Action Plan for the promotion of intermodal passenger transport

In particular, the Inter-Connect project has explored the potentials of 8 regional and urban areas: Igoumenitsa (GR)Regione Emilia Romagna (IT)Friuli-Venezia Giulia (IT)Ljubljana (SL)Zagreb (HR)Bar (ME)Durazzo (AL) and Belgrade (RS). In these 8 case studies, project partners have identified critical issues, that are crucial for the improvement of the connectivity in the selected areas, and provided tangible solutions. For instance, the proposal for the integrated ticketing in Romagna (Italy), the study on the links between port and city centre in Igoumenitsa (Greece) and the study for the optimisation of bus services in Belgrade (Serbia).


The case study of Emilia-Romagna region: the design of the Rail Smart Pass

Forlì, Cesena, Rimini, Ravenna and Faenza are the main cities of Romagna, the south-eastern portion of Emilia-Romagna region (Italy). Together with several smaller cities and the 100 km of coastline along the Adriatic Sea, they are a first class touristic attraction: for art and cultural heritage, for natural beauty and for leisure. You can visit them easily in a few days as they are all close by, that’s why having the opportunity to purchase a multi-ride ticket, better if integrated with bus lines, would make the trip ideal. To this end, the Inter-Connect study, carried out by the Institute of Transport and Logistics (ITL) and the Emilia-Romagna Region, developed the concept of the Rail Smart Pass. “In the last years the Region has invested a lot in integrated ticketing solutions”, explain Cesare Sgarzi and Andrea Normanno, officers at the Public Transport and Mobility Unit – “Some years ago, we started with START issuing the Romagna Smart Pass, a ticket integrating all the local buses operating in the Romagna region. So, the proposal on the extension of the current Romagna smart pass to rail was the logical next step for a more sustainable and intermodal transport system in the area”.

This pilot action started by carrying out a survey based on face-to face interviews to tourists arriving or departing from Rimini and Riccione train stations and “Federico Fellini” International Airport. The idea of an integrated rail-bus ticket was welcomed well by the majority of the people interviewed. The concept took shape by the cooperation among the local public transport operator (Start Romagna, Inter-Connect associated partner) and the national rail operator (Trenitalia) with the support of the Emilia-Romagna Region. Thanks to that, it was possible to design the Rail Smart Pass, a special and integrated travel ticket allowing tourists to discover the whole Romagna region using all the public transport solutions (buses and trains). Two kind of tickets will be released: a 3 days and a weekly pass. As soon as green lights will be formally given by the Region, the Rail Smart Pass will be available to be purchased and fully used by people. Hopefully soon.


The case study of Igoumenitsa: improving cohesion between the port and the city centre

In 2017 the city of Igoumenitsa won the European Mobility week award because of its efforts in defining measures to promote sustainable mobility.  In the same year, the city finalised a 15-month Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) that was also cross-fertilised by a number of public consultation events about their vision for the future. The case study developed under Inter-Connect represents another step in the same direction, as it explores one of the main critical point of the town, namely the lack of public transport connections between the port and the city centre. Currently, the only way to go from the port to the city centre is by taxi or by private car. “The study proposes 2 bus lines leaving from the harbour and crossing the city centre as well as connecting two important passenger terminals of the city, the Port and the inter-urban bus station”, as explained by Apostolos Bizakis, transport engineer responsible for the development of the pilot feasibility study.  The new proposed service includes two bus lines, the blue line addressing the commuting needs of the residents all year round, whereas the brown line focused on covering seasonal needs mainly targeted to the cruise ships and international passenger arriving at the port.

The study includes a feasibility plan which foresees the implementation of the bus services as early as in year 2025.  As Telis Karapiperis (employee at the Municipality) says: “Igoumenitsa is moving to a more sustainable idea of the city which will benefit both citizens and tourists.  Igoumenitsa offers numerous short sea shipping connections with some of the most beautiful islands of Greece and the Ionian Sea, like Corfu, Paxis, Kefalonia, Lefkada in parallel to the international touristic flows to and from Italy. However, the city itself is not well known as tourist destination. A link between the port and the most relevant touristic attractions, the archeological sites and museums as well as its centre can increase the tourist flows and raise the attractiveness of the town”.


The case study of Belgrade: re-design bus connectivity due to urban transformation

Belgrade is based on the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, which split the city up into the Old Belgrade and New Belgrade. In the recent years, a gradual urban transformation is changing its urban plan. In particular, the construction works on the right bank of Sava river for the building of the “Belgrade Waterfront” led to the relocation of the main railway station as well as the central bus station will be soon moved elsewhere. Unlike before, the new stations will be relocated quite distant from one another. “The case study has tried to analyze the impact of the relocations on the overall urban mobility and proposed new possible solutions for the optimisation of bus lines within the city and in connection with its main nodes: bus and railway stations, the airport and the river port”, said Nebojša Jevtić, officer at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia which is project partner of Inter-Connect.

The study focused on the optimisation of local transport in order to get more efficient and fast connections for both citizens and tourists, reducing overlapping and improving the coverage of the public service over the whole urban area. The overall analysis has pushed the main city stakeholders involved in transport and public services to work together and exchange not only data, but ideas and possible solutions. This process will lead to the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding among the Chamber of Commerce and the main organisations involved in the decision making process, such as the Secretriat for Transport and Secretariat for Public Transport, the Railway infrastructure manager, Bus operator and the Transport Managers Association. A first step for the reorganization of existing Public Transport system and lines.