The rising importance of energy efficiency in urban transport

The rising importance of energy efficiency in urban transport

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Achieving 'quick wins' in reducing public transport's carbon footprint even further can secure its major role in urban mobility of today and tomorrow.

Energy management in public transport is a matter of rapidly growing importance, which relies on efforts by all mobility stakeholders, including passengers, operators and the political community - the most recent UITP seminar on Energy Efficiency in Urban Transport Systems confirmed the necessity for better orchestrated actions on the energy-transport nexus.

Public transport in the constantly growing cities and metropolises is being challenged by rapid urbanization and population increase. By 2050, both urban transport energy consumption and emissions are expected to double. With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, urban transport systems have to meet more stringent energy efficiency criteria not only for the sake of economic benefits but also for environmental sustainability and the quality of urban life. This was the main topic of the Energy Efficiency in Urban Transport Systems seminar, organized on March 4 at the European Parliament by UITP and the Parliament’s URBAN Intergroup.

As discussed during the seminar, urban mobility energy efficiency is and will continue to play a major role in making public transport a more sustainable travel option and mode of choice for urban citizens. Yet, the energy use and management is strongly influenced not only by passengers’ mobility patterns, but also by a sound energy policy framework and standards as well as practical tools available to local operators to measure their carbon footprinting strategies. Only the right mix of local endeavors driven by a political support and under a well-orchestrated international umbrella will help to achieve the ambitious mobility and CO2 reduction goals as projected by the EU institutions.

In this respect, a shift to public transport has been emphasized as a way to meet urban energy challenges in Europe by 2020 and beyond. Public transport is on average 2.5 times more energy efficient than private cars transport and only 10% of urban transport energy consumption is linked to public transport. In order to improve public transport energy efficiency even further, UITP supports three main approaches: better integration between urban planning and public transport development, priority to the development of public transport and the control of traffic and parking.

Lambert van Nistelrooij, MEP, Vice-President of the URBAN Intergroup said: “We should be more smart, more green and we should create jobs.” Joachim Zeller, MEP, added: “The members of the European Parliament and especially of the URBAN Intergroup worked hard during the negotiations of the all structural funds regulations for the programming period 2014-2020. Now, the last step of implementation of the possibilities offered by the European founds is up to the countries governments and local politics,” he stated.

“If we manage to double the modal share of public transport by 2025, a substantial gain is to be expected with regards to GHG emissions but also and especially oil based energy consumption – which 98% of urban transport depends on,” said Jerome Pourbaix, Head of Advocacy at UITP. “The fact is that the public transport is a key actor for CO2 reduction in the global transport sector and CO2 reduction also means means costs reduction – it’s a very powerful calculation,” added Patricia Remacle, Senior Analysts at STIB-MIVB and the coordinator of Ticket to Kyoto project.


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