In expansive metropolitan communities, such as New York City, transportation is a lifestyle to behold. Taxis, Uber vehicles, city buses and the subway all compete for the attention and support from thousands of patrons working and commuting around the city. Many roads maintain a bumper-to-bumper status well into the pre-dawn hours, and one becomes keenly aware that mass transit is the only logical decision for most locals as well as tourists. Utilizing one’s personal vehicle for driving around town is time-consuming and non-productive. Inconvenience aside, there are a myriad of reasons why mass public transit holds a valuable place in society, benefiting a nation’s economy, energy and environment.
According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA),
• Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation in 2016
• Americans now utilize public transportation 35 million times every weekday
• Public transportation saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline in the nation annually
With these staggering statistics in mind, it is important to note that public transportation is responsible for 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. with diesel buses as one of the major contributors. China and the United States are the world’s top two carbon dioxide emitters, according to the United States Department of Transportation. “While air quality problems in China have received significant media attention, nearly half of the U.S. population lives in metropolitan regions that still do not meet federal ambient air quality standards. Enabling rapid expansion of the zero-emission bus market in U.S. and China would result in mutual environmental and public health benefits.”
Abroad, countries, and now specific cities, are coming out in support of a zero-emission future. Oxford has announced that it will be the first city in the UK to ban petrol and diesel fueled cars, buses and vans from six main streets in the center by 2020. The zero-emission zone will gradually extend in 2025, 2030 and 2035 until the only vehicles allowed into the city must tout a zero-emission status. John Tanner, Oxford city council cabinet member for the environment, said: “Toxic and illegal air pollution in the city center is damaging the health of Oxford’s residents. A step change is urgently needed; the new Zero-Emission Zone is that step change.”
This week, Paris authorities announced that they plan to ban all petrol and diesel fueled vehicles from their city by 2030, and all of France by 2040. Many Parisians rely heavily on public transportation systems in one of the most visited cities in Europe. “This is about planning for the long term with a strategy that will reduce greenhouse gases,” said Christophe Najdovski, an official responsible for transport policy at the office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
Although already kinder to the environment than every individual driving separate fossil fuel vehicles, public mass transit is adjusting to the zero-emission future hand-in-hand with automakers and everyday commuters. By utilizing zero-emission forms of public transportation, individual communities can benefit from cleaner air while still maintaining the flexibility and convenience that public transportation offers.
The value of zero-emission public transportation is indisputable in cities around the world. With lower operating and fuel costs and the ability to protect the health of citizens, zero-emission public transportation is the cleaner, greener and healthier transportation option.