Over 90% of the world’s population live in areas where air pollution exceeds safe levels. There must therefore be no "back to normal" after the coronavirus where it is dangerous to merely breathe.
Our‘Back to Better Mobility’ campaign is about breathing life back into our transport networks. During the lockdown, many of us have become used to the quieter roads, fewer cars and space to cycle or walk safely through the streets. It feels like there is more space to breathe. What has become an unexpected benefit of this crisis has made many of us realise that we don’t want to go back to how things were, and instead move forward with a more sustainable way of life.
Public transport is four times more efficient per pax-km than private cars. Every kilometre travelled via public transport saves 95 grams of GHG emissions and 19 grams of NOx compared to using motorised individual transport.
A future without public transport is a future without clean air.
Investing in health prevention by reducing air pollution would bring down the cost of treating non-communicable diseases. A significant part of the health solution would involve equipping cities with integrated public transport, reducing risks from traffic injuries, obesity, air pollution and noise.
A prime example of prioritising public health and reducing emissions through integrated long-term planning, and discussed in our Policy Brief Integrating mobility health impact in decision making, is the city of Helsinki in Finland. The city government has developed a long-term strategic plan that considers land-use, housing and transport all together: the MAL. Helsinki draws on knowledge and academic research on public health, acknowledging the relationships between health outcomes and the way we travel, and adopting a people-centred perspective that individual health does depend on a multiplicity of environmental factors.
So as we seek to build back better, let’s remember public transport can help us enjoy the natural world, and improve the health of both people and planet. We all need to be on board!
- UITP and UNEP joint statement on moving on from COVID-19
Check out our dedicated Back to Better Mobility website for more information and to get involved. The future is in your hands!
Want to know more about how public transport can help us fight the climate crisis by reducing emissions? Read more in our ‘One Planet, One Plan’ manifesto!