5th MEETING OF THE EUROPEAN RURAL MOBILITY NETWORK – 15-16th May 2024, Evora, Portugal with site visits on 14th May

Photo by © Tourism of  Alentejo


The SMARTA-NET Project is hosting its second in-person event in Évora (Portugal) with the aim of bringing together rural municipalities, experts, and practitioners to explore innovative approaches, share best practices, and identify financing mechanisms to enhance rural mobility.
Over the 15th and 16th of May, participants will engage in discussions, workshops, and interactive sessions on financing rural mobility schemes, sharing experiences with funding programs, and exploring strategies for securing additional resources inspired by case studies of successful rural mobility schemes. Site visits will also be organised on the 14th.

An additional focus would be on sharing of practical strategies for mainstreaming rural mobility, improving connectivity with inter-city and regional bus networks, enhancing access to healthcare and other essential services, increasing ridership, and building capacity for mobility planning and management.
A special session to discuss the future of the European Rural Mobility Network (ERMN), focusing on its scope, governance, services, etc., will also be organised. The event aims to empower participants to advocate for rural mobility issues and drive positive change in their communities.

The event is primarily targeting the ERMN members, which include rural municipalities and “multipliers” organisations, such as regions, counties, Leader Action Groups, etc. ERMN members will receive personalised invitations. If you are eager to join, don’t hesitate to fill in this form expressing your interest.

You can express your interest in participating until the 15th of April.

All selected participants will receive a confirmation email, so please do not make any travel and accommodation arrangements until your participation is confirmed.
Travel and accommodation support will be offered to a limited number of the participants that need support to participate, mainly local authorities and organisations belonging to the ERMN.


When: to be held on the 15th and 16th of May, with site visits scheduled for the 14th of May afternoon

Where: Evora, Portugal

Venue: Évora Hotel

Day 0: Tuesday, 14th May

Getting to Evora & Site visits

14:00 – 18:00

  • 1st Option | Cycling along the ecotrail around Évora or guided tour of Arraiolos
  • 2nd Option | Guided tour of Évora’s historic centre
  • 3rd Option | Rural visit, see villages and 2-3 rural development projects


Meeting Dinner

Day 1: Wednesday, 15th May

Finding solutions to develop rural mobility

08:30 – 09:00

Meet and greet, Check-in

09:00 – 09:15

Welcome by the host

09:00 – 09:15

Welcome by the host

  • Introduction to the European Rural Mobility Network (ERMN)
    Mr. Brendan Finn, SMARTA-NET Project Manager, MemEx
  • The role of mobility to support rural development in Alentejo Region
    Alexandra Correia, Alentejo Region
  • Financing mechanisms and opportunities for rural mobility solutions in Portugal  Mr. Rui Velasco Martins, Director of Studies, Assessment and Prospective Services at the Portuguese Institute for Mobility and Transport (IMT) 
  • Fostering cross-municipal cooperation at the national level: the Mesa de Movilidad Rural Program
    Ángeles Marín , Director of the Mobility Strategy Office, General Secretariat for Transport and Mobility of Spain (tbc)
  • Setting governance and organisational frameworks: Mobility 2.0 & Basic Accessibility concept in Flanders
    Odette Buntinx, Flemish Department of Mobility and Public Works
  • Q&A

10:30 – 11:00

Coffee and Networking

11:00 – 13:00

Financing rural mobility schemes – 5 tables in World Café style

  • The financing lifecycle – from initial finance through to permanent basis and further development
  • Application processes – preparing and being successful
  • Making a convincing case – problem definition, identifying benefits relevant to the funder, valuing social and community benefits
  • Experience with EU, national and regional funding programs
  • Experience in securing additional resources – private sector, volunteering, sponsorship, user fees, demo/pilot support, …

13:00 – 14:00

Lunch break

14:00 – 15:30

Plenary Session

  • Financing frameworks for rural shared mobility solutions

Presentation of good practice examples

  • SMARTA-NET Lighthouse Sites
  • 3 from other invited locations

Sites showcasing how they mobilised their implementation:

  • Developing and agreeing their strategy;
  • establishing the implementation team;
  • sources of finance to launch the scheme;
  • how they have financed the permanent phase … (Or not!)

15:30 – 16:00

Coffee and Networking

16:00 – 17:30

Parallel Thematic Workshop session

  • (How) has COVID-19 changed lifestyle/mobility patterns, and is a rethink needed on aspects of rural mobility solutions? (led by Panteia)
  • Building mobility into Smart Villages and rural development programs (led by E40)
  • Building partnerships between tourism and mobility stakeholders – what is the common ground and what data is needed? (led by NIT)
  • What are the “rural dimensions” that should be considered by SUMPs and eventually incorporated into guidelines? (led by TIS)
  • Setting up strategies to increase rural resilience against disruptive events towards a net-zero economy (led by MEMEX)

17:30 – 17:45

Concluding remarks and Introduction of Day 2

16:00 – 17:30

Special session: Conversation about the future of the ERMN (optional)


  • What should be the scope of the ERMN?
  • What issues would current and future members of the ERMN be happy for ERMN to continue to pursue?
  • What could be the governance layer of the ERMN?
  • What type of services the ERMN could provide to its members?
  • How could the financial sustainability of the ERMN be guaranteed in the next few years?


ERMN Dinner

Location : Sabores de Monsaraz, Largo De S. Bartolomeu, 7200-175 Monsaraz, Alentejo, Portugal

Day 2: Thursday, 16th May

Mobilising solutions to develop rural mobility

08:30 – 09:00

Meet and greet, Check-in

09:00 – 09:15

Introduction to Day 2

  • Presentation of the scope and framework of Day 2

09:15 – 10:30

Parallel Sessions

Mainstreaming rural mobility – building on the ERMN member experience

  • Connecting with the inter-city and regional bus networks – first/last mile connectors for more functional integrated travel
  • Non-emergency medical trips – improving access of rural residents to healthcare and daycare
  • Building ridership/usership to achieve higher level of benefits from rural mobility schemes
  • Building capacity for rural mobility planning, operations, business and financial management – what is needed beyond SMARTA-NET
  • Frameworks issues and challenges for the implementation of mobility and transport hubs

10:30 – 11:00

Coffee and Networking

11:00 – 12:20

Panel discussion

Developing a voice on rural mobility
Two 30-minute panels, each to discuss one of the following issues:

  • Panel 1: If we had a voice, what would we say, and to who?
  • Panel 2: Could the ERMN be developed as a voice for rural mobility in Europe?

Half the time for each panel is for ERMN members (audience) contributions

12:20 – 12:40

Closing plenary

Building Capacity
Training, thematic networking and exchange among the ERMN members

12:40 – 13:00

Wrap-up and conclusion

13:00 – 14:00

Lunch at venue


Participants depart for home/onward travel