Report: Expanding public transit lowers GHG emissions

Posted on July 28, 2009

Expanded public transit strategies coordinated with combining travel activity, land use development and operational efficiencies can reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by 24 percent, according to new, first of its kind study entitled "Moving Cooler." It estimates that the annual savings in vehicle costs to consumers exceed the cost of enacting these strategies by as much as $112 billion.

"Moving Cooler" is a comprehensive analysis sponsored by a diverse group of public and private entities, including Shell Oil, the Federal Highway Administration, the Urban Land Institute, American Public Transportation Association, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Natural Resource Defense Council, and many others. The research was conducted by Cambridge Systematics and analyzed strategies and their potential impact through 2050.

According to the EPA, emissions have had the fastest growth in the transportation sector, with 28 percent of the Unites States' total GHG emissions coming from transportation. The study shows that from 1996 to 2006, growth in U.S. transportation GHG emissions represented almost one-half (47 percent) of the increase in total U.S. GHG emissions. The research points out that the U.S. can't reach its emission reduction goals without successful strategies to reduce GHG emissions from transportation.

Some specific near term strategies to reduce GHG emissions include expanded public transit services, driving at lower speeds and other driving techniques, congestion pricing, and operational improvements, according to the study. Long-term strategies include changes in development patterns and land use, which aim to increase density and reduce vehicle travel. The authors of the study note that these long term strategies are just as essential as the short term strategies.    

The study authors note that while advances in fuels and vehicle technology will be critical to reducing GHG emissions from transportation, the "Moving Cooler" analysis demonstrates that additional GHG emissions reductions can be achieved by bundling transportation strategies. These bundles can be designed to support transportation and economic objectives while also contributing to GHG reductions.




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