The Future of Transportation: Potential for New Technologies to Promote Sustainability

Public transportation is necessary for the liveliness and continuity of a city. The more public transportation is used; the more urban areas of the city are used. On the inverse side, less usage of public transportation is directly correlated to more pollution and inequality. Why? It’s safe to assume that people who need to commute will use their own individual automobiles, which leads to more pollution. The future of commuting via public transit is supported by leveraging technology to promote savings and sustainability. The energy and cost efficiency of the public transportation system directly affects urban cities, whether positively or negatively.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Master’s in Civil Engineering program.

The Future of Transportation

A Growing Problem

There is an impending transportation issue for today’s public. Urbanization is growing and causes a high demand for a public transportation solution. Due to urbanization, most people on Earth are living in urban areas. To be more specific, half of the entire population is living in an urbanized area. The United Nations has confirmed that half of the global population resides in cities.

The United Nations strongly suggests that this percentage will increase to 70% within four decades. Research has shown that the more cars we put on the road, the more air pollutants we will inevitably be dealing with. In particular, private cars are causing an issue. Approximately 73% of all the air pollutants in urban areas are caused by private cars. As the population continues to grow, the number of vehicles is projected to triple by the year 2035, leading to 3 billion private cars on the road.

70% of the fuel emissions we create are densely concentrated into a very small fraction of land surface. Without a doubt, Earth’s population is increasing. As the number of people increases, more urbanization will occur. This will lead to further transportation issues. Our eminent problem is not going to be solved by adding more roadways, tunnels, and bridges. This simply causes more traffic in areas where there previously was none. At one point, building more roads was realized as a solution. However, this is not sustainable and another solution must be found.

Environmental and Cost Benefits

Just about everyone in the population stands to benefit from an improved public transportation system. Even if you don’t drive, air pollutants affect you. By having more efficient transportation, we are able to utilize land use patterns more effectively.

By taking a strategic approach, we can resolve the problem of urban air pollution. There are a few simple measures that are necessary to take. First, the growth of travel miles in vehicles should be reduced. This will lower some of the road congestion and support more efficient use of the land. Roughly 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions won’t have to go into the environment. This reduction can happen through an increase in public transportation usage. Each household is projected to save thousands of dollars with the adoption of more efficient transportation, totaling approximately $6,251 per year. Energy consumption can be reduced by 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline each year.

There are a few issues that could be completely eliminated by the year 2050 through the use of public transportation. Not only will public vehicle usage need to increase, more walkways and cycling lanes will be necessary. If this is all fulfilled, it will result in a reduction in public and private spending of over $100 trillion dollars. It will also result in a reduced amount of carbon dioxide generated each year by 1,700 megatons. Urban passenger transport CO2 emissions can be reduced by 40%.

Embracing sustainable public transportation

Carbon emissions can be significantly lowered when passengers choose to use more sustainable forms of transportation, such as walking and cycling. This will improve air quality in the area as well as lower carbon emissions. There are more benefits to this type of sustainable transportation. In addition to reduced CO2 emissions, this will create jobs and further support the local economy. One part of the world is already benefiting from employing more sustainable modes of transportation. In Bogota, Colombia, over 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide have been prevented from polluting the environment each year since 2000. This was achieved by using the city’s TransMilenio bus rapid transit system (BRT). An added benefit was the creation of 1,900 to 2,900 new jobs in Bogota.

Energy usage in the United States and greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced through increased usage of public transportation. Pollutant emissions inevitably lead to poor air quality as well as energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The Intelligent Transportation Systems, or ITS, is a system that helps reduce the impact on the environment. It involves a combination of strategies for the purpose of improved flow in transit systems.

Leveraging technology to transform transportation

Smart Cities can be used for the purpose of maintaining the health of the environment of a busy, mobile populace. For Smart Mobility to occur, it’s necessary to develop seamless multimodal access. Clean mobility options as well as developing integrated technologies help promote an easy way to pay a fare and plan your itinerary. When it comes to employing cleaner fuel technologies, the public transportation sector is always among the first to adopt innovative fuel innovations. Of all the bus fleets in the United States, 21.7% use compressed natural gas or CNC.

The American Public Transit Association (APTA) and the Near Field Communication Forum (NFC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding public transportation. The memorandum is an agreement by both two entities to work together to educate the industry at-large regarding how to support public transportation operations.

Paying fares wirelessly is one effort that has encouraged the use of public transportation and made it more convenient. By applying NFC technology, a connection is made between the wireless payment reader and your mobile device. There are at least two companies on board to assist with the development of these technology platforms. These platforms will help automate and optimize operations and on-demand services that support fixed-route fleets with a great deal of occupants.


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