Bilbao in motion

Bilbao: a model of sustainable mobility

Bilbao is a city in motion and it always has been. Its continuous economic and social development in history is due to its ability to face challenges and adapt itself along with the changing times. When the city went into crisis due to its outdated industrial model, it reinvented itself in a process of transformation internationally admired for its look towards sustainability. Today, once again, Bilbao demonstrates that it is a global reference and that it is still in motion, do you know why? 

Bilbao is committed to the sustainable development, thus it is implementing its Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), which seeks to balance on one side, the regional development and the use of natural resources, and on the other side the minimization of social, economic and environmental costs of the production together with the use of an intermodal public transport system.

Check out the five pillars Bilbao's sustainable mobility plan relies on!

1. Inclusive social development

  • The intermodal public transport system is part of the strategic plan of the city to become an inclusive city, since it enhances urban connectivity, is adapted to functional diversity, is affordable, and ensures a sufficient frequency and territorial coverage.
  • The City Council and citizens are in communication through channels that allow them to inform and receive feedback regarding the functioning of public transport.
  • The rules and conditions of use of public transport are based on the principles of inclusive social development. Users have access to them in different platforms in order to be aware of their rights and duties.

2. Environmental sustainability

  • The City Council has implemented policies for the decarbonisation of the economy based on incentives for energy transition, by fostering the use of electric vehicles through tax reductions and the installation of charging points, and by offering grants for the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles.
  • Most of the urban buses use biofuel. Progressively, electric buses are being incorporated into the fleet.
  • Bilbao promotes alternative and sustainable mobility in the city with the provision of public bikes through the Bilbon Bizi system and its 29 loan points.

3. Health and security

  • The physical activity of the local population and visitors is promoted through the Red de Caminantes program, which offers routes guided by a monitor that adjusts the intensity of the march to the physical capacity of the participants. In addition, the Caminar en Bilbao initiative offers a guide to discover Bilbao through routes adapted to different levels.
  • The decarbonisation of mobility is promoted, by fostering, for example, the use of electric vehicles, which not only contributes to improve the quality of air, and therefore, the health of the population of Bilbao, since it is less exposed to the effects of pollution, but also contributes to the reduction of noise pollution, and consequently of related diseases.
  • The maximum speed allowed in the urban area of Bilbao was reduced to 30 km/h in order to improve road safety and avoid accidents.

4. Economic development of the territory

  • Intermodal transport is a strategic factor that enhances the competitiveness and attraction of the territory. Therefore, public resources have been allocated to build the third metro line in Bilbao. Besides the construction of the two more high-speed train lines is being carried out.
  • Ground mobility: Bilbao has urban and interurban taxi services, and taxi services adapted to people with mobility problems; three metro lines with dissuasive car-parking in their surroundings to encourage the use of public transport; Bizkaibus, managed by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, connects the urban centres of the province with the capital; 43 Bilbobus lines that connect different points of the city, whose bus stops are not further than 300 meters away from the user; tram; funicular of Artxanda; and rail transport that connects the biggest urban centres of the Basque Country. In addition, the Termibus station is accessible by metro, tram, RENFE train (the Spanish Railway Company), Bilbobus and Bizkaibus. Likewise, the city has promoted the use of bikes through a borrow system -Bilbon Bizi- and the bike lanes, as well as pedestrian displacements through car free streets.
  • Aerial mobility: Bilbao has an airport used by more than 4.5 million people per year.
  • Fluvial and maritime mobility: Bilbao has a clean estuary through which tourist services boats -Bilboats- and passenger transport boats transit; and with an operational port 24 hours per day, during 361 days of the year, connected with European and intercontinental routes and adapted to goods transport.
  • The automotive sector is a strategic sector in the Basque economy, due to its volume of production and its level of modernization based on R + D + i. In fact, the Euskadi automotive cluster is formed by 300 companies which means the third part of the Spanish manufacturers. This industry is moving towards the energy transition in favour of the environmental sustainability.
  • Bilbao is committed to digital innovation, incorporating new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the offered services: parking, bikes, information on bus stops, citizen participation to improve the public transport system, or relevant information about the city. All these apps are available in:

5. The regulatory framework and public policies

  • All the stages which are involved in the design and implementation of the policies incorporate bottom–up mechanisms. The design of the SUMP has been participatory, since people had an active role by introducing their demands on mobility as well as pointing out all the strengths and weaknesses regarding the public transport system.
  • The normative frameworks are built in the context of governance, where the international cooperation, the alignment of the objectives from different levels of government, and the participation are the key features.