The 9th BAPTS partner meeting took place in Liège, Belgium on 9 June 2011. The BAPTS partners took advantage of the opportunity offered by this meeting to organise the day before a half-day conference on various aspects of the introduction of a tram network in the city and region of Liège, the hosting partner. In addition, the new Northwest Europe cluster project, SYNAPTIC – including BAPTS and three other NWE projects – was officially launched.
Liège, population 195,000 (750,000 in the metropolitan area) is the capital of the province of Liège in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. The BAPTS partners were taken on a walking tour of the city on the evening before the conference for a firsthand look at some of the transportation issues faced by the city. As they witnessed, the bus system in Liège is extremely well used. While the city welcomes the popularity of the public transport system as a positive development, it also acknowledges that it creates challenges. The dedicated bus lanes in some central areas of the city create a “wall” of yellow buses during peak hours. Partners also saw first-hand how the popularity of urban living is turning the trend away from suburban living in Liège. Historic narrow lanes and courtyards are being renovated and are becoming popular housing areas.
On the morning of 8 June, the city of Liège hosted presentations and a discussion on the plans for a new tram system to be developed in Liège. The event took place at the University of Liège and received highprofile political support from both the city and the Walloon region.
In the afternoon the official launch of the Synergy of Advanced Transport Solutions (SYNAPTIC) cluster project, bringing together representatives of four INTERREG NWE projects took place. The launch of the strategic cooperation initiative brought together partners from all four projects as well as other representatives of the Northwest Europe public transport community to discuss current developments in advanced public transport systems and to celebrate this new initiative. The day concluded with the signing of the SYNAPTIC declaration by representatives of the four SYNAPTIC projects.
Following the tram conference and the launch of the SYNAPTIC cluster, on 9 June the BAPTS partners held a management meeting to update one another on the state of their respective projects and investments, to discuss plans for their next meeting and conference, hosted by the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (Rhine-Main Transportation Association) in Darmstadt, Germany, and to discuss their participation in the SYNAPTIC cluster project.
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