How to make transport sustainable in cities

Heavy traffic jam on Globe roundabout following rains that pounded the city. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, many mass transit systems around the world find themselves underutilised and in financial trouble.

City streets are becoming more congested with private cars, bicycles, scooters, and double-parked delivery trucks laden with internet purchases, as people stick with the safety of individual transport and online shopping.

Here are some suggestions as cities strive to get ahead of future calamities:

  1. Rebuild mass transit and boost multimodality

There is no economically thriving city in the world that does not depend heavily on its mass transit. That’s because when it comes to moving people, subways and buses are more efficient, equitable, and cleaner than any other mode. Businesses are also often attracted to cities with extensive public transit networks because they offer employees, regardless of income, a relatively cheap and reliable means of getting to and from work daily. 

  1. Electrify transportation

Increasing electrified transport, which leads to improved air quality, reduced emissions, and lower noise levels, is a relatively straightforward way for cities to make themselves more sustainable. The technology already exists for rail, buses, and small vehicles like cars and trucks, but a big challenge for cities moving forward will be to ensure that regional electrical grids can accommodate the increased demand for power from the transportation sector. 

  1. Enable walking and cycling

Expansion of walking and cycling in cities requires the creation of infrastructure, such as no car zones and bicycle lanes and paths. Cities also need to foster bike- and scooter-sharing services. 

  1. infrastructure that withstands climate change

Construction that accompanies any necessary changes to transit systems or roadways should, for instance, recognize the increased risk of flooding as a result of climate change. Business continuity plans for transit systems should also be put in place to get them running again after a disaster.

  1. Invest in tech that reduce emissions

This includes parking apps that reduce the need for driving around looking for spots or charging apps that tell drivers where they can power up.