Transport awards 500 million to 112 municipalities for decarbonization and sustainable mobility

Jul 25, 2023 | Current affairs, Featured, Revista Lloseta, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

The Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda publish the final resolution of the second call of the aid program to implement low-emission zones and promote the sustainable transformation of collective public transport of the Recovery Plan.

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Transport awards 500 million

The Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda has definitively awarded 500 million euros from the European NextGenerationEU recovery funds to 112 municipalities throughout Spain, in which some 18.2 million people live, to decarbonize collective public transport and promote active and sustainable mobility in urban centres.

Thanks to these subsidies, included in the second call for aid to municipalities for the implementation of low-emission zones and sustainable transformation of transport of the Recovery Plan, the Ministry will co-finance 408 actions aimed at the purchase of electric urban buses, the deployment of bike lanes, the pedestrianization of streets, the digitization of mobility services or the implementation of low-emission zones, among other projects.

The Ministry has selected the projects from among the 679 actions presented by a total of 188 potential beneficiaries of the program: municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, provincial capitals and towns with more than 20,000 inhabitants, which have an internal urban public transport service and a Sustainable Mobility Plan. The call has been held on a competitive basis, so the actions that have obtained the highest score based on criteria of maturity, impact, quality and relevance have been selected.

The 500 million euros awarded with the final resolution of this second call are in addition to the 1,000 million euros granted in the framework of the first call for aid.

In total, 1,500 million euros to finance 1,064 actions aimed at decarbonizing and digitalizing urban mobility, with, for example, the acquisition of 1,024 zero-emission buses, or the construction or improvement of more than 1,220 km of bicycle lanes.

After the provisional resolution of this second call, published on April 27, 2023, the period of allegations began. In this process, the number of admitted applications has been modified, as well as the assessment of some projects in relation to the amount or score awarded in the terms published in the provisional resolution. The list of beneficiaries can be consulted at the electronic headquarters of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda.

Subsidized actions
The objective of the aid program is to contribute to improving air quality in cities and the decarbonization of mobility. To this end, the selected initiatives promote the promotion of reliable, affordable, attractive and zero-emission urban public transport systems, as well as the promotion of active mobility (cycling, walking) to reduce the use of private motor vehicles.

The distribution of the 500 million euros by type of action is as follows:

50.2 % of the call budget is earmarked for the development of active mobility, with actions such as the construction of bicycle lanes, pedestrianization of streets or the installation of bicycle rental points. For example:

  • More than 57 million euros of the funds are to be spent on building or adapting some 220 kilometres of bicycle lanes.
  • The implementation of public bicycle and other personal mobility vehicle rental systems will be financed with 28 million euros, and intermodality will be promoted.
  • 166 million has been granted to increase pedestrian space in cities.

20.2% of the funds – 101 million euros – will be invested in promoting zero-emission bus fleets and waste collection vehicles, as well as the recharging infrastructure for their operation. Thus, the acquisition of 376 zero-emission urban buses and one heavy electric vehicle for waste collection will be financed.
19.4 % of the aid will finance improvements in the efficiency of public transport, including the reinforcement of urban rail services, last-mile freight delivery and road traffic calming. This type of project

contemplates actions for 97 million euros in aspects such as, for example:

  • The implementation of traffic calming and freight distribution measures (45 million euros).
  • The acquisition of rolling stock and improvement of rail transport (19 million euros).
  • The development or reinforcement of municipal park-and-ride facilities (14 million euros).
  • The establishment of regulated parking areas outside low-emission zones (1 million euros).
  • Improving accessibility to public transport for people with reduced mobility and special groups (8 million euros).
  • The provision of platforms and lanes for the prioritization of public transport (10 million euros).

2.2 % of the 500 million euros of the call for proposals – 11 million euros – are earmarked for mobility digitization projects to improve public transport services (real-time information, route planning, digital payment, etc.) and the management of administrations.
Finally, 8% of the aid -40 million euros- will finance 24 projects for the implementation of Low Emission Zones with 26 million euros and 18 complementary actions for their implementation or the reinforcement of existing ones with 14 million euros. It should be taken into account that only municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants and those with more than 20,000 with non-compliance of air quality levels could apply for financing for this type of action, as they are obliged to implement a Low Emission Zone.

The spirit of the Recovery Plan program is to promote environmentally and health-friendly mobility in the cities with the highest concentration of air quality problems and urban transport services. The Climate Change Law obliges municipalities with 50,000 or more inhabitants and provincial capitals to implement low-emission zones, while the Clean Vehicles Directive foresees the need to renew public transport fleets with low or zero-emission vehicles in the coming years, both objectives for which these funds are intended to help achieve.

In this context, the municipalities belonging to Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia have obtained the most aid in the aggregate, with 265.5 million euros, 53.1% of the total. Not in vain, the beneficiary localities of these autonomous communities have a population of almost 10.8 million people out of the 18 million inhabitants that make up all the beneficiary municipalities in this second call for proposals.

Through the program, between the first and the second call, Transportes has granted 1,500 million euros to finance 1,064 actions to 196 municipalities and two supra-municipal entities spread throughout Spain, reaching a population of 25.9 million people. The municipalities of Madrid, Barcelona (including the metropolitan area), Valencia, Zaragoza and Seville account for 34% of the funds allocated. It should not be forgotten that, within the framework of the call for proposals, each potential beneficiary could apply for a maximum amount of aid based on its population, as a maximum per capita was set, and that these cities are among the most populated in Spain.

Even so, not only large cities have taken advantage of the program. As many as 34 town councils with between 20,000 and 30,000 inhabitants have received a total of 30.3 million euros.

In total, of the 1.5 billion euros awarded, 409 million euros have been allocated to increase the space reserved for pedestrians in cities; 219 million euros will finance the purchase of some 1,024 zero-emission buses and 46 electric vehicles for waste collection; while 157 million euros will be used to build and expand bicycle lanes. With this investment, the equivalent in bicycle lanes of the distance by road between Madrid and Algeciras, just over 670 kilometres, will be deployed.

Payments and follow-up
The beneficiary municipalities must justify to the Ministry the fulfilment of the purpose for which the subsidy was granted, by means of the provision of biannual reports on the status of the projects.

According to the resolution, the actions must be executed and implemented by June 2025. However, the Ministry will pay the aid in the form of a single advance payment.

In order to receive the payment, the municipalities must certify within two months, as from the publication of the final order granting the aid, that they have initiated the bidding processes for all the subsidized actions or a subset of actions, the cumulative amount of which represents at least 80% of the total subsidy granted.