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Better CONnections in European PASSenger Transport

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Network corridors
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

Until recently, borders between member states of the European Union were a clear barrier, not only in terms of culture and language, but also in terms of transport planning and marketing. With increasing European integration borders are losing their importance and their separating effect.

Nowadays, people cross borders for daily work, shopping and leisure in ever increasing numbers.

However, they make most of these trips by private car and not by public transport or other sustainable modes.

Consequently, cross-border car usage is rapidly increasing, whereas ridership on public transport stagnates. Generally, little has been done so far to assist the improvement of cross-border connections in public transport whether at national or supra-national level.

The CONPASS project aimed at providing support in this field. The project dealt with experience-based strategies to improve cross-border local and regional passenger transport in urbanised areas. Special emphasis was given to public transport connections.

A major contribution of the project is a comprehensive insight into the nature of existing border barriers throughout Europe as well as providing the necessary tools and experience of best practices on how to overcome these barriers.


The CONPASS project aimed at developing strategies and concepts for improvements as well as compiling tools for experience based enhancement of cross-border public transport supply.

The project put special emphasis on local and regional cross-border public transport in urbanised border regions.


A major goal of the project is to provide a comprehensive insight into the type and nature of existing border barriers throughout Europe.

This mainly includes transport-inherent or transport-internal aspects (e.g. barriers within the public transport system itself which are deriving from the specific border situation).

It was therefore not a primary objective of CONPASS to provide recommendations to overcome socio-economic and socio-cultural barriers in border regions (e.g. by harmonising the taxation regulations or the school systems, improving the general knowledge of foreign languages) in order to increase the overall cross-border traffic volume in public transport.

Finally, it was the primary objective of the project to provide tools and experience of best practices directly to practitioners in border region on how to overcome these barriers in local and regional public transport.

This is done in form of the handbook-style 'Toolbox on cross-border public transport'. It contains the validated methodological framework for data collection and analysis as well as the technical and organisational recommendations.

The toolbox which is designed to assist local activities of improving cross-border connections in an experience based way by providing transferable examples and strategies as well as proven recommendations.  

Furthermore, CONPASS aimed to contribute to the further development and improvement of local/regional cross-border passenger transport services by:

  1. providing a state-of-the-art overview,
  2. elaborating an analysis methodology for cross-border transport connections,
  3. performing dissemination activities in EU member states and in accession countries.

The targeted user groups of the project's results are local, regional and national authorities, transport operators and cross-border institutions which all have a key interest in European integration by improving cross-border passenger transport.


The scientific approach of CONPASS is structured in three steps:

  1. The current extent of cross-border passenger transport in urbanised areas is assessed in 42 border areas by means of a questionnaire survey in order to obtain a state-of-the-art overview.
  2. A methodology for in-depth data collection and analysis of cross-border passenger transport connections is developed and applied to 21 case studies all over the EU. A cross-site analysis of case study findings is performed to reveal the existing border barriers and the recently applied measures to improve cross-border connections.
  3. Practical concepts and tools to overcome the most critical and important barriers in cross-border transport are applied as small scale measures in 6 border areas which enables a compilation of recommendations for cross-border passenger transport.

The project contributes to innovation in the field of local and regional cross-border passenger transport by the 'Toolbox' which is a handbook-style collection of all main findings of the project. It presents in a user-oriented way transferable examples and strategies as well as recommendations to assist local actors who are involved in cross-border public transport planning and operation (e.g. authorities, operators, cross-border institutions).


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


By performing an exhaustive state-of the-art survey as well as an in-depth analysis of the current situation on cross-border public transport in more than 20 urbanised European border areas, CONPASS experienced various obstacles under which cross-border public transport generally operates.

These obstacles can be subdivided into three categories with respect to the likely ways of overcoming them to reach improvements:

  1. Some obstacles derive from socio-economic border barriers, i.e. the absence of certain travel motives in cross-border traffic like school transport across the border (catchment areas of schools do not usually extend across international borders, but school transport is an important share of public transport demand in many European countries). Generally speaking, those obstacles cannot be tackled at all from a transport-related point of view.
  2. Some barriers are produced by the public transport supply itself (e.g. physical transport options are available, but there is no co-ordinated interchange between two domestic lines which both run only as far as the border). This clearly requires commitment and actions undertaken by the respective actors at the site to overcome them. However, actors need support (recommendations on how to start improvements, what to consider etc.) which have not been available so far. CONPASS produced a 'Toolbox' - a handbook-style document featuring supporting material. The 'Toolbox' is provided either as a web-based electronic version or as a print version for download on the Internet (
  3. There are obviously some obstacles that derive from the overall policy framework. This can be only changed if the policy framework is adapted or new tools and options are available.  

A compilation of theses targeting this aspect are directed to policy makers on European, national and local level.

Some examples are as follows:

  • There is little focus on international short distance transport! In public discussions, cross-border public transport is often thought of as long-distance services by rail, although the majority of cross-border travellers make local and regional trips. The EU is supporting the concept of trans-European networks (TENs). However, similar actions on local and regional levels are missing.
  • A cross-border public transport master

    Policy implications

    Since cross-border public transport plays a key role for the integration of border regions, policy actions to overcome obstacles will contribute to further European integration.

    The most important policy recommendations derived from the project’s analysis work are based on a couple of theses, each of which points to a specific obstacle at the policy level.

    Furthermore, future co-operation of practitioners involved in cross-border public transport planning and operation becomes more and more important for European cohesion in border regions.

    Consequently, the improvement of networking among practitioners involved in cross-border public transport issues is a key issue.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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