Public Transportation: An Environmentally Sustainable Mode

Public Transportation and Environmental Health Impacts

There is a long-established link between motor vehicle pollution and poor health outcomes. Transportation related air pollutants are one of the largest contributors to unhealthy air quality. The USDOTEnvironmental Protection AgencyAmerican Lung Association and CDC are just a few of the entities that have linked automobile exhaust to adverse health effects such as premature mortality, asthma, chronic pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, diminished lung function, increased hospitalization, and a weakened immune system, among others. 

For those in transportation, there are a few different avenues to support the reduction in transportation related air pollution. The first focus is to reduce emissions by reducing the use of single occupancy vehicles.  This can be achieved through the promotion of public transportation, active transportation, or even mode shifts that reduce vehicle miles traveled such as carpooling and vanpooling, car sharing, or other trip options.

The second focus should be improving emissions occurring from transportation vehicles. Some systems are already working toward this through shifts to low- or no-emission vehicles when possible, or retrofitting existing vehicles with current pollution control measures to reduce emissions. More information on this topic is available through the  Center for Advancing Research in Transportation Emissions, Energy, and Health.

For further investigation . . .

Transit’s Role in Environmental Sustainability

This FTA website contains many resources on reducing greenhouse e gas emissions and other policies transit agencies can enact to increase sustainability. 

Public Transportation’s Role in Responding to Climate Change

This paper presents an analysis of the data and frames it in a broader context. It concludes with a description of FTA actions that address climate change.

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