Navigation bar
  Print document Start Previous page
 4 of 54 
Next page End  

The use of transport is rapidly increasing due to an expanding and more prosperous world population, leading to
greater traffic congestion, local air pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Some
environmentalists favour greater investment in public transport to mitigate these effects, but this is rarely the
transport mode of choice. Outside populated areas and busy periods, buses and trains can be under-utilised and
produce even more greenhouse gases per passenger km than cars.  Many economists favour road pricing and
carbon trading, but introducing a charging level that is high enough to reduce traffic levels will not be politically
acceptable without providing competitive transport alternatives. Futurists look towards developments in
automated driving systems for traffic control and the use of hydrogen fuel cells and cheap high-energy density
batteries for propulsion, but these require fundamental breakthroughs to make them economic, safe and reliable
for widespread practical applications. The need for such solutions is imminent, yet there is no guarantee these
will happen soon enough, if at all.
The emphasis on reducing the environmental burden of transport is currently directed towards making fossil
fuelled vehicles more energy efficient whilst generally retaining their basic size and weight. However, large
reductions in fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by this approach are limited through fundamental
thermodynamic laws, the embedded ‘carbon footprint’ of producing complex engineering systems, and most of
all economic practicalities. Any reductions achieved by these means are being swamped by the sheer increase in
transport use, particularly in developing countries. Although many organisations and politicians like to project
an environmentally friendly image and introduce policies and targets which provide token gestures to the
electorate, none of those that have been mentioned so far are either realistic or can make a significant global
impact in their present form. However, there are other approaches that are being overlooked.
Whilst motor vehicles will probably remain the preferred method of transportation, there are several ways of
incorporating them into an integrated transport and energy solution which can radically reduce greenhouse
gases, local pollution and traffic congestion. Moreover, these methods don’t rely on highly expensive and
speculative technologies; in fact some of them have benefits over present methods of transport and these could
be implemented on a much shorter timescale. However, they do require the development of new modes of travel
by coordinating how vehicles and infrastructure are built and work together.  This study now examines these
Previous page Top Next page