12 June 2019

Codatu first workshop in Cali, Regional Transport Authority, what is it and how does it work?

In February, CODATU launched a technical cooperation in Cali, Colombia, on metropolitan governance in public transport. In partnership with the French Development Agency AFD (through FEXTE funding), the cooperation aims to support local authorities in the implementation of a « Regional Transport Authority » (ART) in the metropolitan area of Cali. The cooperation is part of a broader context of stategic mobility projects for the region currently in development and supported by the French Embassy in Colombia and the AFD through FASEP and FFEM funding : the local train linking Cali and the neighboring municipalities (the project is currently in prefeasability stage, conducted by SYSTRA) and the « Corredor Verde » project which promotes soft mobilities and urban renovation alongside the railway in Cali.

The first workshop of CODATU technical cooperation in Colombia took place on the 20th and 21st of May in Cali. More than 50 public workers of local municipalities, regional government and national entities (Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Housing and Cities, National Planning Department) participated to the 2-days workshop. The objective of the event was to collectively identify the potential role, functions and impact of a Regional Transport Authority in Cali metropolitan area.


The first day was dedicated to understanding the local and national context for the creation of a regional Transport Authority.

First, participants were invited to think collectively about 1. the current challenges in terms of regional mobility and institutional organization of public transport in the region, and 2. common objectives of mobility and transport at the metropolitan scale.

The quality of the service in terms of integration, time-distance efficiency and security were pointed as the main challenges currently, followed by the lack of institutional cooperation.

Two types of goals of mobility by 2030 were mentioned: the first part responds to current challenges (mainly optimize and integrate the offer of public transportation), while other goals tend to integrate new variables in the forecasting of the new system of transportation. These new goals were to develop clean energies, to articulate transport and urbanism, to create a culture and citizen identification with the public system of transportation. Several groups described as a 2030 goal the positioning of the public system of transportation as a motor for regional economic and social development.

Afterwards, national entities (Ministry of Transport and DNP) presented the national legal framework and the new guidelines of the government for Regional Transport Authorities and Municipal Associations. The objective of this session was also to ensure the participation of national entities in this local process.

On the second day, participants were able to discuss further key aspects of ART: institutional basis, competencies and financing. The session was introduced by a global view on transport authorities and the main issues that need to be defined in a process of creating an ART presented by the Cerema. Then, several French and national case studies of ART were presented (SMTC of Grenoble, Montpellier Metropolitan Area and Barranquilla Metropolitan Area) to show different institutional forms of ART and their respective assets and difficulties. During a second collective exercise, participants defined the institutional base and competencies of the future ART of Cali and its articulation with other transport entities. They imagined a strategic regional system of transportation, where the current BRT system, the future train, intermunicipal bus lines, and some of the most important municipal lines will be integrated and organized by the future ART.

Finally, CODATU presented its publication “who pays what for urban transport?” to show the main sources of income for Transport Authorities and the role they play in channel and manage financial resources of the transport system. The specific sources of financing in France, Barranquilla and Cali were also presented.

Key messages

Generally, transport authorities are created to respond to a problem of mobility, a need to channel and manage financial resources for the functioning and investment in transportation, mobility practices that happen on a territory that correspond to several jurisdictions administrated by public authorities which need to cooperate and the implementation of projects of mobility. In other words, the Transport Authority will allow to define a governance of public transportation suitable to the local context.

The main figures of a transport authority that need to be defined are:

  • A territory (strategically, it corresponds to the territory where daily travels take place)
  • An organization (what institutions are represented? What is the process of decision-making? Etc.)
  • An institutional basis (legal framework)
  • Human, technical and financial resources
  • Competencies (generally competencies include the system of public collective transportation, and some transport authorities are responsible of organizing all modes of mobility in the territory and even urban development in some cases).
  • Functions, which are generally one of several of the following categories:
    • Strategic functions (long-term): political guidelines, long-term mobility goals
    • Tactical functions (middle-term): translate those long-term objectives into an offer of public transportation (service planning, give priority to mobility projects, choose a system of operation, define service goals (frequencies, time, comfort…), define a pricing policy, contribute to financing the system, build infrastructures, etc.
    • Operational functions (short-term): operate or supervise the operation of the system

Territorial entities association is a key issue to build a transport authority on a territory that corresponds to actual practices of mobility. The legal framework for territorial entities association or cooperation and political will are essential to this process, which generally implies long-term negotiations with institutional and operational stakeholders.

In general, the creation and consolidation of a transport authority is a progressive process. The competencies and the territory of the authority grow progressively, as well as its system of governance which may evolve over time. The national legal framework is progressively developed, in France it was built over 40 years, through different policies on institutional decentralization, environment and air quality, new modes of transport, etc.

Counting on stable financial resources is key to the success of an ART which will be able to gain legitimacy and implement projects on the territory. It is essential to define specific sources of financing and negotiate formulas to define the level of participation of the partnering institutions.

The main questions of the participants were:

  • The benefits for municipal governments to participate into this process, especially for local municipalities which are not part of the train project
  • The territorial association scheme as institutional basis for the ART: how to articulate the municipal association with the future ART? How to empower the existing scheme so it is able to ensure the transportation competencies?
  • Specific financial resources to finance the functioning of the ART.

Next steps of the cooperation

The DVDH-GSD+ consulting consortium in charge of realizing the structuration of the ART will present a diagnosis of the current situation and scenarios for the structuration of the ART and the entity in charge of managing the train project in July of 2019.

Next CODATU workshop will take place in September on integration and multimodality issues.

Download the full report (in spanish): Taller 1_ report