Transportation's Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases
In the past decade, the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport has been elevated from a “mention” to a core issue.
That’s because road transport is one of the highest contributors to both NOx, Carbon, and PM emissions and pollution. Passenger cars are among the top individual polluting sources, and heavy duty vehicles (such as transit buses) are an important source of NOx, carbon, and PM. These same pollutants are also now recognized as major health threats.
New policies, standard and targets are being set that bring the notion of environmental performance of transport into project planning, approvals and funding for the first time.
Three key concepts will take on new importance as we move towards a new way of thinking about individual trips and vehicle miles travelled: Avoid, Shift, and Improve.
AVOID includes reducing both the need and desire for travel to take place through mixed use, high density developments with complete streets and a spectrum of services and entertainment. It may also include measures such as parking regulations and management; vehicular access restriction; and road pricing.
SHIFT involves making more trips by non-motorized means such as walking and bicycling. It also includes a more integrated transit network; in particular good “first and last mile” connections with major transit systems; parking, vehicular access; pricing; and travel planning. SHIFT will help us utilize our existing infrastructure more efficiently but will depend on new, cooperative relationships that improve both the quality and efficiency of traditional transit.
IMPROVEMENTS are where new technology fits in. Alternative fuels; improved engines;new standards and indirect technology that enables people to plan trips and make smarter decisions as conditions change.
We have a tremendous challenge ahead, but also an exciting opportunity to put these concepts into practice in exciting new ways that improve both the environmental performance of transport overall, and also make an important contribution to the quality of life for all of us.