the year 2016 in Tunisia is representative of a national strategy renewal for transport and is a key year for great urban transport projects (Fast Rail Network in Tunis, Sfax Metro, etc.), a clear urban mobility policy is still lacking. A study for a National Transport Master Plan has been launched in order to establish a global strategy for terrestrial, aerial and maritime transport. But this strategy is focused on great transport projects at a country scale, and less on the mobility strategy within cities.
The urban transport sector in Tunisia is in crisis. Public service is no longer properly ensured and public transport networks deteriorate continuously increasing paratransit and private car use. This situation and the delays in new urban transport projects are responsible for the increase of urban congestion and road fatalities. Regarding transport planning, Regional Transport Master Plans haven’t been updated since the end of the 90’s. The latest master plans inTunis and Sfax are from 1998, and the one in Sousse is from 1995. Thus, it has been almost 20 years since any urban mobility strategy has been updated.
Nowadays, a new National Urban Mobilty Policy is necessary in Tunisia for the following reasons. The first one is the age of the masters plans as noted above. The expansion and evolution of Tunisian cities brought in 20 years new issues and thus need new strategies. The second is the crisis of public transport mainly caused by the lack of a proper local governance and sustainable financial mechanisms. A national policy can remedy these problems in order to improve the sector efficiency. At last, it is necessary to bring the concept of mobility as it gathers several components such as transport, urban planning, energy or environment. These components are currently segregated in different sectors and are handled separatly. A unified vision is necessary to make good decisions.
National Urban Transport Days in 2012 barely applied
Within a program initiated by the Center for Mediterranean Intergration of Marseille and financed by the French Development Agency (AFD), an important work of capacity building on urban mobility started in 2010 for mediterranean national and local authorities with the support of CODATU. Its aim was to build a common mediterranean culture in urban mobility by sharing good practices examples and seting up adapted solutions depnding on local context. This program consisted in the organisation of meetings in the mediterranean area. In this way, National Urban Transport Days were organised in 2012 in Tunis regarding the governance and finance aspects of urban transport and in order to outline a roadmap made up of short and mid-term actions. The recommendations in this roadmap were focused on several topics such as organizing authorities, fare model evolution, funding sources or relationships between public authorities and transport companies. The main issues that were raised during this conference in 2012 are still up-to-date and need a greater attention regarding the serious current situation. The table below summarised the main recomendations made in 2012 and give a review of the actions carried out until today.
|2012 JNTU recommendation||2012 proposal||2017 overview|
|Execute a sustainable National Urban Transport Policy||Creation of a National Interminiestrial Commission for sustainable urban transports||Mission still ensured by the Ministry of Transport|
|Establish regionals transport organizing authorities accordingly to the 2004-33 law||Capacity building for incoming organizing authorities (AROTT)
Particular support and skill transfer in Sfax and Sousse
Monitoring of MRT pilot projects by the AROTT
Cooperation with French cities (Grenoble, Strasbourg)
Establishment of a peparatory committee for an AROTT in Sfax
MRT project started in Sfax
|Create an organizing authority specific to the Great Tunis area||Establishment of an interministerial technical committee including the AUGT and municipalities||Committee under construction|
|Implement integrated fare system for public transport in Tunis||Study on the fare system
Households and trips survey
Integrated fare policy
New fee schedule
|Launch of a study on fare integration in 2017
New ticketing system under project
|Clarify relations between public authorities and transport companies||Situational analysis
Revision of the contractual relation between government and public companies
Possible development of private services and opening to new services
|Governmental commission in charge of restructuring and governance of public companies
Restructuring projects for public companies in crisis
|Increase the fare revenue||Gradually catch up the fare level
Set up an annual fare increase based on inflation
Update fare reduction and transfer existing compensations on other budgets
|Fare increase for private operators
Increase of the subsidy for public companies
|Find new funding sources||Property valuation around RFR stations
Public companies estate valuation
Tax levy on indirect beneficiaries
Specific funding for transport projects
|A decree project is prepared|
|Coordinate urban development and transpot planning||Integration of land use planning services from AUGT in the interministerial technical committee
Introduce urban planning in the AROTT abilities
|AUGT and ANME considered in the committee project
MEHAT represented in the committees of Sfax and the Great Tunis
|Prepare other tunisian cities to sustainable urban mobility||Study on trips demand and modes that need to be developed
Database on urban mobility in Tunisia
|Participation of officials from main cities in the training and awareness actions|
Local governance and finance are nowadays major issues
According to the devolution process initiated by the 2014 constitution, a good local governance is now essential for the organisation and planning of urban transport in Tunisia. The main law on terrestrial transport organisation named law n°2004-33 defined ten years ago the concept of Regional Terrestrial Transport Organizing Authorities (AROTT). The mission of these authorities is to plan and organise urban and regional transport in each governorate of Tunisia. However, neither AROTT was set up despite pilote projects in Sfax and Tunis. It is today essential to develop a solid and efficient model for these AROTT so they can have the power of a real authority toward existing and futur stakeholders in the urban transport landscape.
The work on institutional evolution for local governance must be followed by the improvement of financial mechanisms. The vast majority of public transport companies are directly controled and regulated by the government. They depend on the Ministry of Transport and on the Ministry of Finance to manage their budget. Their income mainly comes from subsidies granted by the Ministry of Transport and from the passenger revenue depending on a fare settled by the same Ministry. As their was no significant increase of the fee schedule in ten years, while the expenses increased, public companies cannot garantee financial balance anylonger and are now almost bankrupt. To help these companies, the Ministry of Transport periodically operates remediation plans but this is not enough. The private companies are also close from bankruptcy because of their incapacity to increase their ressources due by the stoppage of new concessions proposals.
From the concept of transport to the concept of mobility
Following the COP 21 in 2015, Tunisia committed to reduce its carbon intensity by 41% in GNP unit (13% will be from an unconditioned volontary contribution and 28% will be conditioned by international assistance). In order to implement actions that will contribute to its commitment, Tunisia applied to the MobiliseYourCity initiative. This initiative aims to reduce CO2 emissions in the urban transport and mobility field with the elaboration and implementation of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP) at the local level and National Urban Mobility Policies (NUMP) at the national level. It is supported by the french and german cooperation thanks to an international partnership with organisations such as AFD, Cerema, CODATU and GIZ.
In cooperation with this initiative, MobiliseDays were organised on march 1st and 2nd, 2017, within the technical cooperation in urban transport monitored by CODATU in Tunis, at the El Mouradi hotel in Gammarth, under the label “Urban Mobility Forum” (FMU in french). In order to carry on the work done at the 2012 JNTU, this event was entitled “Toward a National Urban Mobility Policy in Tunisia for a better local governance and sustainable financial mechanisms“.
This national conference was opened by M. Anis Ghedira, the Minister of Transport, and M. Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, the French Ambassador in Tunisia. This was an occasion for urban mobility stakeholders to gather together, to expose the keys issues of urban transport enlighted by the results of the 2012 JNTU, and to think about the necessary actions to undertake in the following years. The main purpose was to discuss the strategic orientations for a sustainable national urban mobility policy. Thus, the FMU was able to bring orientations out in order to contribute to the program of actions that will be undertaken by the MobiliseYourCity initiative.
Several measures clearly emerged through the sessions. They mainly concern solutions about governance and finance but also public service upgrades and capacity bulding issues. Among others recommendations was the importance to switch from the concept of Transport to the concept of Mobility in order to incorporate all the related problematics and introduce the idea of Regional Organizing Mobility Authority (instead of Terrestrial Transport Authority).
It is now necessary to examine the feasability degree of each recommendation, to define implementation methods and to set up the necessary methodological tools. A priorisation of these measures is essential to differentiate “Quick Wins” (short term actions with a visible effect) from long term measures and will result to a structured master plan. This master plan will have to be implemented with the help from different ministries and a concertation between the involved participants. The MobiliseYourCity initiative supported by the Cerema and the GIZ will contribute to the formulation of a work program that will bring methodological tools for the elaboration and implementation of this sustainable urban mobility policy
A strengthend and environemental friendly local governance
In order to support Tunisia with its comitment taken during the COP 21 (41% reduction of its carbon intensity by 2030), the main objective of a national urban mobility policy has to be the construction of a shared vision of urban mobility and thus the elaboration of a shared road map. Thus, a Transport NAMA at the national level must be developped to measure among others the potential reduction of CO2 emissions that will result from this policy.
An Interministerial National Commission for Urban Mobility should also be established in order to update the legal and regulatory framework. This framework will have to be co-produced by the different ministries in order to integrate urbanism, land use and transport planning. It will have to be followed by enforcement decrees in order to speed up the establishment of AROM as real local authorities instead of simple consulting units. Different models in relationships management between these AROM and the public transport companies also have to be examined. The National Commission shall finally monitor the MobiliseYourCity initative that will support the implementation of this new policy.
The renewal and decentralisaton of financial mechanisms
A strong need for rapid and sustainable actions to sanitize the financial situation of private and public transport companies was expressed. Short-term actions shall be first considered in order to get the necessary revenues for the daily operations. For example, fee schedule must be reassessed in order to introduce a general increase of the fare system based on the transport real effective cost. A fraud reduction strategy should also be implemented with a control reinforcement policy. Sanitation plans must be elaborated with the contribution of the Government.
When these first actions are implemented, it wil be necessary to ensure a financial balance and garanty transport companies performances on the long term. The new fee schedules will have to be updated regularly accordingly to the real cost of transport given by the companies and based on the inflation rate. Companies internal governance shall also be reformed in order to clarify the government position and to set up a new contractualisation process. Finally, a Regulation and Economical Compensation Autonomous Agency shall be considered to introduce gradually competition between operators and ensure distribution of revenue in the Great Tunis area in case of a fare integration strategy.
Moreover, a feasability study on the new sustainable financial mechanisms towards direct and indirect beneficiaries must be launched in order to draft the enforcement decree for the section n°11 of the 2004-33 law concerning transport funding.
Finaly, the new legal framework set up by the interministerial commission shall engage the devolution of financial ressources at the regional level, which will be necessary to the AROM operations and in accordance with section n°7 of the 2014 constitution.
A support in terms of capacity building
A strong political leadership is necessary to implement the different actions mentionned above and apply the new regulatory framework. This leadership will help the implementation of the national policy on a long term but will also encourage short-terms actions such as “Quick Wins” (AROM scenarios prospection, organisation of car free days, National Urban Mobility Commission, production of a guideline fo SUMP, etc.)
On the other hand, an urban mobility observatory shall be set up to ensure statistical data collection. This will allow a better comprehension of transport demand in order to adapt the offer, as well as a follow-up of transport performances and impact on the environment.
A transport networks upgrade
A last, the national urban mobility policy must strongly reinforce the public transport promotion. This promotion needs among others an networks upgrade supported by a strategy for rolling stock renewal. This strategy must come with a promotion towards active modes that will contribute to reduce GHG emissions caused by transport and thus will help Tunisia to respect the COP 21 commitment.
Key recommendations synthesis
|Develop a National Urban Mobility Policy (NUMP) for a shared vision of urban mobility.
Develop a NAMA Transport to measure, inter alia, potential reduction of CO2 emissions following the implementation of the NUMP.
Create a National Interministerial Commission to update the legal framework and monitor the MobiliseYourCity initiative.
Establish a legal framework co-produced with different ministries that integrates urbanism, land use and transport planning.
Establish a legal framework and enforcement decrees adpated to AROM creation.
Study on different relation models between incoming AROM and transport operators.
|Develop short-term actions in order to get the necessary revenues for the daily operations :
– Improvement of anti-fraud controls set up by the operators.
Find sustainable solutions to allowa financial balance for public and private companies such as :
– Reform of the internal governance of public companies
Feasability study on new financial mechanisms concerning direct and indirect transport beneficiaries in order to elaborate enforcement decree of the section n°11 of the 2004-33 law.
Application of section n°7 of the constitution for the implementation of a legal framework allowing devolution of financial ressources at the regional level for the AROTT/AROM operations
|Garanty a strong political leadership to ensure law enforcement
Act quickly with a strategy based on Quick Wins
Establish an Urban Mobility Observatory in order to to get statistic mobility data.
Reinforce the public transport promotion with rolling stock renewal and active modes promotion.
This article was written within a technical cooperation program in Tunisia funded by the French Development Agency (AFD). CODATU, AFD and the Ministry of Transport of Tunisia signed in February 2016 a technical coopération partnership in order to support the Ministry of Transport of Tunisia in the implementation of urban mobility project and the improvement of public transport systems in great urban areas of Tunisia.