Reducing A City’s Carbon Footprint with Public Transit: It’s Possible
Each year, the stark warnings from scientists about the impending climate change disaster strike a chord with many people. While western societies have more time and resources to prepare, the developing world is already suffering from rising sea levels, devastating droughts, and hurricanes, as well as the influx of waste from wealthier countries. The driving force behind these events is clear — economic growth. It is a mighty force for good, lifting people out of poverty at unprecedented levels, but if the current status quo is maintained the consequences will be devastating — and humanity has nowhere to hide.
The good news is that we now have the technology needed to turn back the carbon emissions dial globally and stop the march toward a climate disaster. Public transportation is one of the key areas in which cities can aspire to transform but it is up to individuals to embrace living without a car in their daily commute. Here are three soft measures that cities can implement to track the improvement in their carbon emissions!
Help citizens make the mode shift from personal vehicles to public transit
In a typical, two-car household, personal vehicles account for the biggest portion of its carbon footprint. By eliminating one of the cars, this household can reduce up to 30% of its greenhouse gas emissions. To do that, citizens need to have access to reliable public transit for their commute and daily errands. These soft measures have been proven to improve the transit experience:
- Adequate service: one of the main reasons why people opt out of public transit is because it does not fit with their schedule. By introducing more timely service, transit authorities can invite more people on board.
- Route optimisation: another reason often cited by people who are reluctant to use public transit is the inability to find a service that can lead them where they are going. Most people will opt for their personal vehicle if they must make more than one transfer.
- First mile/last mile solutions: another soft measure that can be used to improve the transit system when no new routes can be introduced is offering alternatives — bikes, e-scooters, shuttles, etc. When available, they can fill the gap between the primary transit service and the destination of the riders.
- MaaS platform: integrating all forms of transit into one platform makes it easier for people to switch from one mode to another when needed.
- Better payment options: introducing a variety of convenient payment methods that suit everyone’s habits is crucial. Some people will still prefer smart cards and paper tickets, but more and more people are going cashless and turning to contactless payment options such as mobile apps and cEMV.
These measures will provide a smooth public transit experience that can substitute personal vehicles, thus reducing the city’s carbon footprint and people’s expenditure on fuel and vehicle maintenance. But to implement them adequately, cities need to be able to measure their achievements and communicate them to the citizens.
We need a steady data stream
It all starts with a steady and reliable data stream. Current smart solutions such as account-based fare collection can be used to monitor which lines need improvements — route optimizations, or the introduction of larger buses to accommodate increased people flow at certain times, for example.
Nowadays we can monitor the capacity of vehicles in real time which enables dispatchers to act in real time. This also applies to fares — fare capping or free ‘green’ tickets can be introduced under specific conditions (on days with heavy traffic, for example).
In cities using flexible metering, electric vehicles can take advantage of automated charging algorithms that show the best time to recharge — both in terms of price and vehicle usage.
Measure, improve, measure again
Data and analytics are an important part of the journey, they are the basis for any improvement in the smart city. Data ensures more adequate planning, better implementation, and clearer communication of the benefits to the public. After a measure is implemented, it provides the necessary accountability.
In the context of greenhouse gas emissions, this is especially important, as it allows city authorities to measure their success in fulfilling their carbon pledges. This might soon be a prerequisite to receiving funding or applying for certain programs. What is more important, it allows cities to continue the cycle of innovation and improvement.
How can we help?
Telelink City is a systems integrator that operates with one of the best mobility providers on the market — Modeshift. Modeshift provides a holistic digital mobility infrastructure that is cloud-based and easy to implement in a variety of scenarios. It enables the introduction of soft measures to tackle carbon emissions, congestion, and other big city transit pain points. Contact us today and we will help you find the best mobility solution for your city!