In a world where mobility serves as a lifeblood of cities, how we move within a city can affect everything from where we choose to live to the number of hours we spend commuting. One study estimates that a commute of 60 minutes costs firms a week’s worth of productivity. But that mobility comes at a cost. In 2015, transportation accounted for 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. And while some companies are resorting to alternative fuels like coffee waste and human feces to power buses and cars, none of these solutions have made it to the mainstream.
As the world’s population continues to migrate to cities in pursuit of better job opportunities and living conditions, urban centers increasingly face mobility challenges, with more cars on the road paving the way for increasing congestion and rising pollution. One of the ways that cities are adapting to these challenges is by improving public transportation. Strong public transportation networks make cities more connected and liveable and decrease dependence on private car ownership, reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Public transportation can potentially reduce 37 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and account for $6,251 cost savings, while reducing 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline savings annually.
As the problem intensifies, corporations, cities and governments look to opportunities to mainstream electric-powered vehicles, with a special focus on public transportation as the sector that has the most demand and serves the widest range of commuters. In January, the Netherlands debuted its first wind-powered electric trains, while in March, Germany tested the world’s first zero-emissions’ hydrogen train, leading the revolution against carbon-intensive vehicles. In July, New Delhi introduced the city’s first solar-powered train carriages, equipping passenger vehicles with solar panels to power the lights, fans and information display systems on the trains. In the United States, the Shared Use Mobility Center has drafted a plan to reduce cars in the Minneapolis-St. Paul twin cities‘ region. Other cities are looking to address mobility challenges through non-motorized transport solutions, such as cycle highways in Europe.
The future of public transportation lies in finding a balance between motorized and non-motorized transit to ensure that cities are accessible and navigable to all their citizens.
This infograph by New Jersey Institute of Technology illustrates the problems – not to mention costs – incurred by the dependence on fossil fuels, as well as potential ways to transform the future of public transportation.