Ambato presents the development of its SUMP in the context of COVID-19

The city presented the progress on its Mobility Plan at the seminar "SUMPs and COVID-19: planning in time of transport".

Ambato, November 23, 2020.- Although the restrictions generated by COVID-19 revealed how unsustainable and inequitable mobility in cities can be, the importance of adequate planning to face this and future challenges has also been highlighted. Such is the case of Ambato, Ecuador, a city that is developing its Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) under the framework of the EUROCLIMA+ programme.

On October 28, the virtual seminar "SUMPs and COVID-19, planning in times of uncertainty" was held. The event was part of the Resilience and Transportem series organised by the TUMI Initiative, NUMO Alliance, and the Community of Practice of MobiliseYourCity/EUROCLIMA+, among other institutions. It was developed in the context of the of MobiliseYourCity/EUROCLIMA+ Learning Programme on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) for Latin America, an initiative of EUROCLIMA+ implemented by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

The participating speakers were Susanne Böhler-Badaker, from Rupprecht Consult, Laura Babío, from POLIS Cities and Regions for Transport Innovation, and Diana Garcés, from the Municipal Autonomous Government of Ambato. The moderator was Katy Huaylla, a consultant in urban mobility for Rupprecht Consult, an institution that implements the programme on SUMPs.

Sustainable mobility in Ambato before COVID-19

SUMP Ambato 1

In the case of the Ecuadorian city, the project for the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan of Ambato in the context of COVID-19 was presented in the virtual seminar. This has a scope that is articulated with other policies at an intersectoral and multilevel level, such as Ecuador's National Urban Mobility Programme (NUMP) - which is also being developed within the framework of EUROCLIMA+ - as well as with the Ministry of Environment's NDC Strategy, which integrates sustainable mobility policies with those of climate change.

Diana Garcés explained that the arrival of the health contingency due to COVID-19 impacted the execution of the project, which was in the diagnosis and development phase, according to its roadmap: "We had already done an information gap analysis and we had a preliminary diagnosis. This meant an important moment of analysis reflection that forced us to redirect the next steps, which were the development of objectives, goals, everything for the definition of the strategy and the implementation plan. This also influenced the validation and implementation".

SUMP Ambato 2

The pandemic implied challenges in mobility management as in many cities of the world: restriction in vehicle circulation, disabling of public transport routes, and impact on the supply chain. As a central city in Ecuador, Ambato is an important distribution centre for products at the national level. "The confinement showed its importance in the supply chain for the whole country, an important fact to be considered for the SUMP," said Garcés.

The official explained that Ambato was one of the first cities to lift restrictions on mobility and reactivate transport, in order to boost the economy. They also conducted citizen surveys to analyse mobility patterns, which detected changes in intention, perception and use of more sustainable modes of transport, such as the bicycle.

In addition to these actions, pilot projects have been added such as the pedestrianisation of streets and the construction of emerging bicycle paths, whose implementation will begin at the end of the month. This is occurring in the context of the COVID-19 Emerging Mobility Plan, a document that defines actions and guidelines for mobility in urban and rural areas of Ambato, in response to the health emergency. It looks upon the new normality with a priority on long term sustainable mobility. In December, the indicators will be prepared and the impact of the interventions of this emerging plan will be measured. According to Diana Garcés, the results will serve as inputs for the formulation of Ambato’s SUMP.

"We will be able to incorporate the post-pandemic experience, considering that in the not too distant future we could be facing another type of emergency that would challenge us to rethink our mobility systems. The experience has been important for reflecting on and recognising the sustainability we must have in order to establish a more sustainable recovery," explained the Ambato official.

The administration of Ambato prioritises decarbonisation, the just green transition, replicability and scalability in other regions, sustainability, and digital innovation, as the Ecuadorian city aims to become a smart sustainable city.

"We have the challenge from here on to design our SUMP. We believe that this experience, although it has been quite tough, has allowed us to have a somewhat more real perspective of what we are trying to implement in Ambato," concluded Diana Garcés.

SUMPs in Europe: converting challenges into opportunities

Informe Europe SUMP COVID 19

The methodology for Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP) is one of the main planning instruments in Europe. In March, with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic on that continent, many cities and regions organised themselves to respond to the opening and shutting of confinement periods, contemplating the needs of mobility to turn challenges into opportunities.

According to Laura Babío, cities that had a good SUMP were able to respond quickly and better to emergency situations. In the web seminar, the expert from POLIS Cities and Regions for Transport Innovation presented the European Report SUMPs-COVID-19. This is a portfolio of measures that can accelerate the fight against the impact of the new coronavirus on urban mobility, as well as a reflection on the medium and long term.

The first section of this document was included with an account of the impact that COVID-19 had on mobility in different European cities and the future challenges presented, followed by guidelines and recommendations to promote safe transport alternatives and sustainable mobility through emerging actions.

The second section includes measures classified into different types of mobility: public transport, shared mobility, cycling, and pedestrianisation. It explains the redistribution of public space and a collection of best practices from cities such as Brussels, Paris, and Manchester.

The last section contains a reflection on rethinking long-term mobility systems: "It recognises the possibilities we have for a sustainable recovery. We are confident that the measures are applicable and scalable. They collect and document information, lessons learned, and measures for implementation in the SUMPs".

Advantages of SUMPs in the face of the crisis

Susanne Bohler Badaker Rupprecht Consult

Susanne Böhler-Badaker is the Leader of the Integrated Planning Team at Rupprecht Consult and has extensive international experience in transport projects. Her participation in the seminar consisted of a video interview about her reflections on how governments around the world have adjusted and made transport and mobility decisions in the pandemic context, and how emergency and resilience procedures were activated.

"We need transportation and mobility more than ever. Essential workers need access to their jobs, essential supplies must be delivered, food security needs to be maintained, and economic recovery needs to be ensured. What we learn from this is that establishing clear structures and lines of communication are essential if municipal authorities are to respond quickly and effectively to the crisis," she said.

The transport expert also explained the advantages that cities with a SUMP have for facing the health crisis, such as providing established and, in the best of cases, reliable procedures and decision-making structures for the application of short and medium-term measures. She also mentioned that the SUMP provides the cities with a portfolio of measures suitable for application. "In this way, cities can react more quickly and with greater impact for combatting the consequences of COVID-19".

Through more agile, flexible, and adaptable mobility planning processes, cities are becoming more robust against this and future crises. This is possible thanks to the principles and methodologies of SUMPs, since they seek to implement measures to make cities healthy, economically viable, and liveable.

Here you will find the webinar video


EUROCLIMA+ is a programme financed by the European Union to promote environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient development in 18 Latin American countries, particularly for the benefit of the most vulnerable populations. The Programme is implemented under the synergistic work of seven agencies: the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the French Development Agency (AFD), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Expertise France (EF), the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Public Administration and Policy (FIIAPP), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), and UN Environment.

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