Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal


The 2022 Transport Research Arena returns following a COVID-forced hiatus

Europe's largest transport conference, the TRA (Transport Research Arena) returned in November after a hiatus because of the coronovirus pandemic. Portugal hosted the 2022 edition, which brought together international experts to debate the present and future of mobility under the theme "Moving together, re-imagining mobility worldwide".


Among the speakers was Maltese researcher Emma Cassar, who gave a presentation on the potential of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) as a sustainable travel tool for young adults.


MaaS, or Mobility as a Service, combines various forms of transportation onto a single user interface, allowing users to compare, plan and book a trip using whichever transport method they opt for through a subscription service app.


In her research, Cassar delved into the adoption and use of information and communication technologies among young adults. That rate of adoption is considered strong enough to cause a shift in preference towards public transport and shared mobility services.


Previous research has shown that young adults are driving less now than their peers did in the early 1990s.


Dr Cassar said: “The delay in young adults obtaining their driving license, and the confidence they have using smartphone technology to access transport services, makes Mobility as a Service a potential sustainable travel tool.”


She concluded: “The adoption of MaaS by young adults can be supported by national and local governments, educational institutions and corporations through financial incentives, good quality public transport infrastructure, and a work culture that encourages the use of sustainable transport modes”.


Throughout the four-day TRA conference, researchers, scientists, engineers, companies, public authorities and transport start-ups manned stands where visitors could get an insight into the different challenges faced by the transport sector.


Those challenges can be categorised into four major themes: intelligent solutions and society; green mobility and decarbonization; innovative infrastructures for Europe 2030; policies and economics for a competitive Europe.


During the conference there were different plenary sessions where stakeholders gave presentations, discussed and shared new ideas, research results, technological solutions and new business models.  


Portuguese Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos concluded the conference by noting that Europe has collectively committed itself to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and to be climate neutral by 2050.

Transport is responsible for a quarter of all direct greenhouse gas emissions, he noted, saying that he “firmly believed’ that collective mobility is the key solution.


“If we simply replaced all combustion cars with electric cars, we would end up with the same kind congestion, the same huge amounts of lost time in traffic, the same unsustainable levels of road accidents, and the same struggle for public space. It’s obvious that cars won’t disappear, and they will have to shift to alternative sources of energy such as electricity or hydrogen,” he said.


The next TRA will be held in Dublin, Ireland in 2024.


TRA 2022 was organised by NAI (National Innovation Agency) IMT (Institute for Mobility and Transport), CES (Consortium of Engineering Schools), NLCE (National Laboratory for Civil Engineering), and Magellan European Affairs Association. It is co-organised in partnership with the European Commission and in collaboration with the technological platforms and European associations ACARE, ALICE, CEDR, ECTP, ERTRAC, ERRAC, ETRA and WATERBORNE.