Policies that improve the energy efficiency of urban transportation systems could help save as much as $70 trillion in spending on vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure between now and 2050, according to a report from the International Energy Agency.
A Tale of Renewed Cities draws on examples from more than 30 cities across the globe to show how to improve transportation efficiency through better urban planning and travel demand management. Extra benefits include lower greenhouse-gas emissions and higher quality of life.
Energy consumption for transportation in cities in expected to double by 2050, according to IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven. She says “urgent steps” must be taken to mitigate transportation-related climate and economic impacts of growing urban transportation volumes.
Among the three categories of policies recommended in the report are those that allow travel to be avoided, those that shift travel to more efficient modes, and those that improve the efficiency of vehicle and fuel technologies. The report notes that if fully implemented across the transportation sector, this “avoid, shift and improve” approach could save up to $70 trillion in terms of lower spending on oil, roadway infrastructure and vehicles.
The report uses three case studies — Belgrade, Seoul and New York City — to show how those cities have already improved their transport systems. For example, within the first six months of refurbishing its urban rail system, Belgrade tripled passenger levels. When Seoul pushed through reforms that no longer rewarded bus operators for carrying more people, ridership, speed and safety all increased. And New York City shaved 11 minutes off travel times within a year of introducing express bus services, while at the same time attracting more passengers.
In an attempt to meet climate change goals while staying within a tight city budget, the city of Vienna, Austria has introduced a fleet of electric buses that run unplugged and when it’s time to recharge, they tap the overhead power lines already installed for trams.
In May, the Volvo began testing a program to supply electric power to trucks and buses via power lines built into the surface of the road, thus eliminating the need for large in-vehicle batteries.