Energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions are not currently identified as important priorities within the wider urban transport policy framework. This is due to public transport being perceived as a generally lowcarbon option, with a mode shift from private cars to public transport seems to be a priority to reduce transport sector emissions. Yet this perception needs to be challenged, for the following reasons:
- policies which aim to increase public transport use often result in additional energy use and related emissions (and costs) for the public transport sector (although this should result in lower energy use and emissions by passenger.kilometre and for the transport sector as a whole)
- financially constrained transport authorities and operators will have difficulties funding additional energy costs (and carbon tax costs where this is implemented)
- energy efficiency is fast improving for new cars and the roll-out of electric cars in future years could result in public transport journeys becoming less energy and carbon efficient than private car journeys.
It is essential to raise the awareness of the public transport sector stakeholders on these issues with transport authorities and with regional and national government. The argument must be made that energy efficiency and carbon reduction in the public transport sector is a sound investment, since this will ensure that:
- public transport services remain affordable through reduced energy and carbon costs (especially where emissions are taxed) and risks;
- public transport services remain able to compete with the private car in terms of environmental benefits;
- public transport services also fulfil other priorities: congestion reduction, accessibility, use of space