International Transport Forum - 2014 annual summit Transport for a Changing World | 21-23 may 2014 - Leipsig, Germany | France presidency

Winner | 2015 Promising Innovation in Transport Award (Passenger category)

UbiGo: The Spotify of mobility

UbiGo is a fully integrated mobility service for everyday travel. It aims to make everyday life easier for urban households and foster sustainable cities by offering a simple, flexible, reliable and affordable service as an alternative to car ownership.

UbiGo works like a flexible mobile phone subscription, but with units for use of mobility services, rather than the number of SMS sent or Gigabytes surfed. The service combines public transport, car-sharing, rental car service, taxi and a bicycle system – all in one smartphone app, all on one invoice, with 24/7 support and bonus points for sustainable transport choices. By taking care of households’ or companies’ mobility budgets, UbiGo can procure everyday travel in volume, repackage and deliver combined mobility to users in a unified way – it provides everyday travel in a similar way that Spotify provides music.

The UbiGo service has been developed and tested in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city. For half a year, 70 paying households used UbiGo. During the Living Lab period, over 12 000 transactions (day tickets, car or taxi reservations etc.) where made. The evaluation - based on surveys, interviews, travel diaries, focus groups and usage - was positive. None of the participating households stopped using the service and a clear majority wants to stay on as customers, their main reason being convenience.

The business model is scalable and franchiseable. The test run also included the B2B-market, where business can be events, shops, restaurants or employers. The service was developed with an international market in mind. A franchising concept will allow local partners in large cities to operate the service using the knowledge, brand and platform developed in Gothenburg.

In awarding the prize, the jury applauded UbiGo project for putting customer’s needs at the heart of its approach to reduce car use and specifically noted “the good potential for replicability”.

“A service like UbiGo acts as ‘grease’ between the ambitions of large cities to limit the use of car and the need of households and companies to manage everyday life,” says Hans Arby, CEO of UbiGo. “UbiGo works it focusses on providing a better service than private car ownership can offer, not on convincing people cars are bad.”

UbiGo is part of the Go:smart initiative funded by the Swedish innovation agency, Vinnov. Development is led by Lindholmen Science Park, with partners such as Volvo, Chalmers University, the City of Gothenburg, Viktoria Institute, Västtrafik and others.

Watch the UbiGo video: (English)

Go to the UbiGo website:


Winner | 2015 Promising Innovation in Transport Award (Freight category)

St. Lawrence Seaway: Hands Free Mooring in Deep-Water Locks

Manually securing cargo ships in locks with steel mooring lines is time consuming, labour intensive and potentially dangerous if a cable breaks. The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) in concert with its supplier, Cavotec, developed the first ever hands-free mooring solution for locks.

 The SLSMC operates the Canadian sections of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a waterway that connects over 40 ports within the 3,700 km Great Lakes/Seaway System to the Atlantic Ocean. The Seaway has 16 high-lift locks, 14 within the Canadian portion and two within the US portion. Transiting each lock traditionally requires using heavy steel mooring lines to tie up a ship to a series of bollards on the lock wall.

The SLSMC, together with its supplier Cavotec, developed an innovative solution to modernise lock transits. The Hands-Free Mooring (HFM) system employs vacuum pads mounted on vertical rails to secure the vessel during the lockage process, tracking the vessel as it is raised or lowered, while keeping it at a fixed distance from the lock wall.

Prototypes were developed from 2006 to 2012, and implementation started in 2013. Full deployment of HFM will be completed by 2018, and will encompass all Seaway high-lift locks for a total of 16 locks under both Canadian and US management.

“Hands-Free Mooring is becoming a reality on the St. Lawrence Seaway because all the stakeholders supported the project,” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC. “Vessel operators participated in testing; pilots made recommendations and acted as ambassadors; Transport Canada partnered with us in providing funding for the modernisation project; and Cavotec worked tirelessly to deliver the technology. Thanks to close co-operation with our US colleagues at the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, this project is becoming a universal solution for Seaway transits.”

Watch the Hands-Free Mooring video:

Go to the St. Lawrence Seaway website:


Special Mention (Passenger) | 2015 Promising Innovation in Transport Award

One Card All Pass: Korea

In Korea, over 90 percent of passengers using public transit in the metropolitan areas pay fares with transport cards. It was cumbersome, however, that people had to use different cards when traveling to other regions since the cards, issued by 11 regional operators, were not compatible with each other. In 2008, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) embarked on the project of “One Card All Pass” service which makes it possible for just one nationally compatible transport card to be sufficient for all public transport modes, including bus, metro, railway and expressway across the country. After six years of strenuous effort developing the technology for the compatibility standard and persuading 17 regional governments and 11 card operators to participate in the initiative, the service was launched in June 2014. Survey results show that around 90% of users are satisfied with the nationally compatible cards. MOLIT is currently pursuing the expansion of the coverage of One Card All Pass to long-distance buses like express buses and inter-regional buses by the end of 2015.

Special Mention (Freight) | 2015 Promising Innovation in Transport Award

Siemens eHighway

The eHighway brings the benefits of electric mobility to heavy-duty road freight. It combines overhead contact line electrification with hybrid-electric trucks that can also drive outside of the electric road. An active pantograph enables the vehicle to connect and disconnect to the overhead contact line, while driving at normal speeds, without changing driving behaviour. The potential for electrifying heavily used truck routes is considerable. eHighways could initially service truck shuttle connections, e.g. between a port and a rail yard. Later, they could be deployed on main freight corridors: In Germany, 60% of road freight emissions occur on just 2% of the road network; similarly in France. Tests of the eHighway technology have been ongoing since 2010. The first public road demonstration has been contracted with California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, the air pollution control agency for the Los Angeles metropolitian region. The demonstration phase, with at least three heavy-duty trucks, will start in the fall of 2015 and run for 12 months. In Germany, a plan for a field trial of the system before September 2017 has been approved.

Go to the Siemens eHighway website:

Information about the Electric Road side event at the 2015 Summit of transport ministers in Leipzig on 28 May:



Winner | 2015 Transport Achievement Award

GoSwift: Smart border crossing management

GoSwift is a public-private partnership operating an innovative queue management service at the Estonian border crossing points. GoSwift allows vehicles to pre-book time slots for crossing the border from Estonia into Russia via the web, a call centre or self-service terminals at designated waiting areas.

The GoSwift service was developed as a response to the problems created by traffic jams of vehicles waiting to cross the EU border from Estonia into Russia. Until the start of the border queue management service in 2011, vehicles queued for kilometres and kilometres before they reached the border crossing point. Waiting times at the border reached 5 to 6 days during peak season, with negative impacts on drivers of mostly heavy goods vehicles, but also businesses, tourists and local inhabitants.

A joint initiative led by Estonia’s Ministry of Interior was launched with the border guards, customs service and local authorities to address this situation in an innovative way. The starting point was to make a smart use of existing infrastructure and resist the traditional option of increasing the size of the infrastructure to add capacity. The main objective was to ensure seamless movement of goods and people across the border without compromising on security requirements.

The specific goals of the project were to offer a predictable crossing time, improve service quality for tourists and businesses, make it possible to wait for a crossing slot without having to be present at the border and to improve the environmental conditions, both locally in terms of waste, noise and exhaust gases, but also overall in terms of CO2 emissions due to idling vehicles. Eliminating the black market for queue slots that had developed was another objective, as well as improving the risk analysis on vehicles and individuals crossing the border.

In a public tender, GoSwift won the concession contract to become the first queue management service operator for border traffic. Since August 2011, all vehicles crossing the border between Estonia and Russia are legally required to register through the GoSwift service and wait at designated border waiting areas. The service is in place at all three border crossing points between Estonia and Russia. It is financed on a pay-per-use basis, generating revenues and jobs.

Dramatic improvements

The situation at the Estonian border has changed dramatically following the mandatory introduction of the booking and queueing service. Waiting times have decreased from an average of several days to around 30 minutes. Through the introduction of waiting areas, traffic queues at the border have disappeared, improving local traffic. Road safety around the border crossing points is no longer jeopardized by the lanes of idling trucks, and noise and harmful emissions are greatly reduced.

For drivers, journey planning has been facilitated through the availability of predictable and reliable border crossing time. They can book their crossing time via multiple channels, all available 24/7 in English, Estonian and Russian, and they can choose to be informed of their waiting time via SMS. Real-time information on the number of vehicles waiting offers drivers the opportunity to decide on a different journey via another crossing point where the waiting time is shorter. The designated waiting areas provide secure parking as well as facilities and services such as restaurants, toilets, showers, free Wi-Fi and booking terminals.

Due to the electronic booking system and the controls put in place, illegal trade has been reduced, as it is easier to identify where procedures have not been followed and to trace illicit trade. System administrators report any out of the ordinary activity immediately. The registration to the service allows the customs and border guards to receive information in advance, which in turns greatly improves their capacity to perform risk analysis.

The big picture

One main goal for the initiative was to increase the competitiveness and attractiveness of Estonia as a whole. Trade and tourism statistics show increased activity across the border: Between 2010 and 2013, exports from Estonia to Russia grew by more than 66%, and the number of Russian visitors to Estonia increased by 35% in 2013. From January 2012 to January 2014, the number of vehicles processed at the border crossing in Narva increased by 64%. The Estonian Association of International Road Transport Carriers estimates that Estonian carrier companies have been able to save 4 Million Euros annually thanks to the GoSwift system. This, in turn, has increased the competitiveness of Estonian harbours to serve logistic chains towards Russia.

Following the success of the Estonian border queue management project, the same queuing service has been implemented at five Lithuanian border crossing points and at one Finnish border point on crossings to Russia and Belarus.

Kristen Michal, Estonia’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, commented: “We are glad that the Estonian government made the decision in 2010 to develop and operate an electronic queue at the border. The concession agreement with a private company has proven a pragmatic and highly cost-effective approach. The ITF Award for GoSwift is a recognition for Estonia’s achievements in e-Government solutions”.

Go to the GoSwift Estonian Border website:

Watch the GoSwift video:

Go to the GoSwift corporate website:

Special Mention | 2015 Transport Achievement Award

TRANSDANUBE: Sustainable Transport and Tourism along the Danube

The jury of the ITF Transport Achievement Award awarded a Special Mention to the project “TRANSDANUBE – Sustainable Transport and Tourism along the Danube”. With its vast natural and cultural heritage and its geopolitical position, the Danube region is one of the most promising tourist destinations in Europe. Transport infrastructure and mobility services vary widely, however, and co-operation among stakeholders has been weak. TRANSDANUBE, developed by the Austrian Environment Agency together with 14 partners from 8 countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia), is successfully creating a framework for co-operation based on an integrated approach to transport and tourism and a common vision of soft mobility. Activities range from new bicycle routes, Danube water busses to tourist packages that do not require use of a private car.

Go to the Transdanube website:


Winner | 2015 ITF Young Researcher of the Year

Dr Nihan Akyelken (Turkey), Oxford University

Dr Nihan Akyelken, a Turkish national based at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom is the recipient of the International Transport Forum’s 2015 Young Researcher of the Year Award. An international jury of experts chose Dr Akyelken for her contribution to developing a conceptual framework for the governance of sustainable freight transport in the age of globalisation. The jury praised the paper for showing “a real new policy dimension” that is “relevant to the policies pursued by International Organisations such as the OECD and the ITF”.

About the winning paper

It is no longer possible to distinguish between logistics and manufacturing systems,” writes Akyelken in her winning paper, together with her associated author Hartmut Keller. “What we see as freight transport is in fact an integrated part of the changing trends of mobility.

The paper goes on to make a compelling case for an integrated perspective  emerging logistics practices, manufacturing systems and freight transport policy: Shifts in global production and consumption patterns have wide-ranging economic and environmental impacts, not least on the sustainability of freight transport. The geographical distribution of environmental impacts caused by changing logistics and manufacturing patterns is closely related to the policies in place.

“Firm’s decisions of where to produce and what mode of transport to use are strongly associated with regional and national policies and regulations and global agreements”, Akyelken and Keller emphasise. In fact, policies set by territorial institutions - such as national governments or regional bodies like the EU - play a more significant role than the firms’ own organisational routines.

Therefore, the approach to governance for manufacturing, logistics and freight movements needs to be holistic: First, it must look at the supply chain as the unit of analysis, considering the relative importance of institutions, firm behaviour and scale of governance. Second, it must involve actors from all levels such as the EU institutions, not only governments and firms. Third, it must pay special attention to the design of logistics and manufacturing practices.

“If economically and environmentally sustainable patterns are to be maintained in freight transport, a deeper understanding is required of these new logistics and manufacturing systems,” concludes Dr. Akyelken.

Download the winning paper

About the winner

Dr. Nihan Akyelken is a Research Fellow in the Transport Studies Unit at University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment. She is also a Departmental Lecturer in Sustainable Urban Development at Oxford.

Dr. Akyelken obtained her DPhil degree at Oxford in November 2011 with a thesis entitled “Capital and Development in Social and Cultural Contexts”. She holds an undergraduate degree in Economics and Philosophy and a Master degree in European Political Economy from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Her research interests span urban and regional political economy, economic geography and development planning and policy. The current empirical focus of her research is on social inequalities and regional development, infrastructure and labour markets, and governance of urban transport innovations.

Download a photo of the winner

See previous winners of the ITF Young Reseacher of the Year Award