Exclusive interview with UITP Secretary General Mohamed Mezghani

Krishtina D'Silva Posted on: 2019-03-13 08:22:01 Viewer: 2,206 Comments: 0 Country: Belgium City: Brussel

Exclusive interview with UITP Secretary General Mohamed Mezghani

The UITP Global Public Transport Summit (Stockholm 9-12 June 2019) is the largest of its kind in public transport and urban mobility and the event where the sector will gather to discuss the current state of play, and what that future will look like. Leading the debate will be UITP’s Secretary General Mohamed Mezghani. Read all about the next UITP Global Public Transport Summit in our conversation with Mohamed…

The next UITP Global Public Transport Summit will take place in Stockholm (9-12 June 2019). What can you tell us about this edition?

Mohamed Mezghani: The next UITP Summit will be the biggest edition yet. The Summit was previously held in Stockholm in 1991, where it was known as the UITP World Congress. The growth and recognition of the Summit is something truly incredible. It has become the largest event of its kind in public transport and urban mobility. In Stockholm we will have 280 exhibitors across 40000m2 of space. 2500 participants and attendees will join us in Sweden with more than 10000 visitors expected per day. These are brilliant numbers! What makes the UITP Global Public Transport Summit the biggest of its kind is that we cover all modes. We have mass transit and shared modes and new players all under one roof. It is also the global reach that makes the UITP Summit special. Our worldwide attendance will reach up to 90 countries. We will also have a rich programme that covers many sectoral topics and will take place across plenary sessions, lunch sessions, poster sessions and exhibition sessions.

The 2019 programme will revolve around seven main topics: customer service excellence, planning and governance for improving quality of life in cities, mobility as a service and the new combined mobility paradigm, attracting new talents and skills, operational excellence, funding and finance and harvesting innovation. These will be discussed through plenary sessions and panel discussions. Taking part in these discussions will be hundreds of high-level speakers from around the world, including CEOs, political figures and innovators. So far we have leading names from France, Indonesia, China, Australia, Canada, Kenya and Saudi Arabia, to name but a few. The UITP Summit offers something for everyone, at all times.

The theme for the 2019 Summit is “The Art of Public Transport”…what does the theme mean to you personally?

Mezghani: The theme for each Summit edition is carefully selected. The UITP Summit always has a theme that is relevant and special to the host city. “The Art of Public Transport” is not the 2019 theme by chance! It’s inspired by the Swedish metro holding the distinction of being ‘the longest art gallery in the world’. However, the theme of the Summit is more than just the artistic aspect. We are also encompassing the craft and excellence in delivering public transport; the engineering aspect, the governance of public transport. We will also cover the latest innovations that illustrate this art. It’s also important to emphasize the key role of the people who deliver the state of the art public transport around the world. Our industry colleagues, including the very talented UITP staff, are ‘mobility artists’ – working every day to showcase public transport. The theme will show and reflect their contribution to the sector. The UITP team has been showcasing their abilities as artists by taking pictures around the world with our stencils – not only does this show the global reach of our staff and membership, but also that “The Art of Public Transport” can truly be found everywhere!

As the biggest event of its kind in public transport and urban mobility, how important has the UITP Summit become to the sector?

Mezghani: UITP has more than 1600 members across the globe and the UITP Summit has become so important to the sector that our members consider it a first Tier event. This is extremely flattering as they clearly view it as an unmissable event. For exhibitors – it is the event as the UITP Summit is essential to their work. There’s the chance to premiere their innovations and to showcase to the industry. Crowds come from all over the world – transport leaders and CEOs - and visitors get to hear them speak and meet them. We also have a growing number of political figures participate, which is very important as it shows that key decision-makers view the Summit as a relevant part of their calendar. The wide variety of topics on offer is also covered by the international press and media, with a very strong showing from the trade press. The first Summit was held in 1886, the year after UITP came in to being, and the numerous editions since then have built great credibility to become the best event in the eyes of the sector.

What makes Stockholm the best host for this edition? And what can you tell us about UITP’s relationship with 2019 localhost SL?

Mezghani: Stockholm is a great city to host the next UITP Summit. It has so much on offer – from being considered the safest city in Europe, to being the second most connected city in the world. Its urban mobility policy is a model in its kind with balanced urban planning, a multimodal public transport network and car traffic restrictions (with the congestion pricing scheme for example). It also perfectly showcases art in public transport. Our relationship with SL is very strong, we work closely on the Summit. Moreover, our members in the Nordic Countries are actively partnering with SL making the Summit a highlight not only for Sweden but also for Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark. UITP only goes to cities with members and committed hosts. We don’t want to organise the Summit alone – and as a member-led global association, we don’t have to! In fact, our relationship with the local member host is so strong that we’ve always co-hosted with a member since the first edition in 1886!

There will be hundreds of exhibitors, speakers and delegates, as well as thousands of visitors, in attendance over the three days of the Summit. What can they expect to see and experience?

Mezghani: They can expect the opportunity to share the latest public transport developments from over the world. The sector is changing and these changes will be discussed, alongside the challenges we face. There’s a great deal going on in public transport. We have the growing development of new players, the growth of shared mobility, on-demand modes and more. Digitalisation is also changing the sector and needs to continue to be discussed. It’s important to all meet together to share the experiences of change with members. All of this will be covered at the Summit – to share, and learn is very important. There’s also the chance to meet and to listen to many high-level speakers. In fact, we have more than 100 CEOs from transport bodies speaking in Stockholm.

What do you hope they take away from this edition?

Mezghani: The attendees can learn from the experience of who will be speaking and exhibiting. The networking opportunities are also very important, and there are many on offer during the Summit. UITP organises many, as do our sponsors and our exhibitors. I would say that the Summit is best the way to develop your business by the numerous chances on offer to the network. It’s also the chance to take distance from daily work – everyone in the sector is very busy all year and this is the chance to realize what is happening and how they can develop their business and come to see the public transport and urban mobility debate first hand.

And finally, can you tell our readers in one sentence why they should come to the UITP Summit?

Mezghani: There’s so much to say about the UITP Global Public Transport Summit that you will have to kindly allow me a lengthy sentence!...

The UITP Summit is the unique opportunity to learn from peers and to see the latest technological developments first hand; to see high-level speakers show commitment to public transport and sustainable mobility and to interact in a friendly environment by having fun in a very nice city like Stockholm and enjoy its white nights! I hope to see all of you to join us there in June. Learn more on https://uitpsummit.org

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