VREF, the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations, is the collective name under which four foundations collaborate to finance research and education in the areas of transportation, environment and energy. Since the turn of the Century, these foundations – through VREF – have focused on the area Future Urban Transport (FUT) with the subtitle, “How to deal with complexity.” VREF finances FUT research programmes for the purpose of contributing to new ideas and solutions within the complex structure that lies behind the design of sustainable transportation systems in big cities. The challenge is to find urban transport systems that will provide accessibility for the masses while at the same time radically reducing transportation’s negative local and global environmental impacts.
A cornerstone of VREF policy is that the research that is financed shall aim to influence the development of transportation systems that are sustainable and accessible for all. Therefore, the connections to education and stakeholders in each local environment are important aspects of planned research programmes.
The four VREF foundations are:
Since April 2011, the Latin American Association of Integrated Transit Systems and BRT (SIBRT), who gathers agencies from several cities from Latin American countries as Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Ecuador, has established a strategic alliance with our CoE. SIBRT is present in 19 cities of eight countries, and its associates provide public transport services to more than 20 million riders per day.
The objectives of this partnership are:
(i) Definition of significant benchmarking indicators and sharing collected data
(ii) Developing best practice case studies to improve quality standards in the SIBRT systems
(iii) Implementing training courses in BRT planning and operation
(iv) Developing technical assistance for SIBRT agencies.
In particular, SIBRT facilitates the exchange of knowledge, produces “best practice” studies of the management, standardization, and operation of urban public transport, and proactively promotes Integrated Systems and BRT adoption as the safest, most efficient and sustainable form of mass transit. The more relevant cooperation has been on developing the Observatory BRT databank. We have participated in each of their meetings offering our group as a technical arm for SIBRT. This interaction allows us to get closer to the problems these agencies are facing.
Additionally to the association with SIBRT, the cities of Santiago in Chile, Amman in Jordan and Lisbon in Portugal have expressed their support of our ALC-BRT Centre of Excellence and their envision of an active interaction with us.