Tradeoffs between costs and greenhouse gas emissions in the design of urban transit systems

Julia B. Griswold, Samer Madanat, Arpad Horvath

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Recent investments in the transit sector to address greenhouse gas emissions have concentrated on purchasing efficient replacement vehicles and inducing mode shift from the private automobile. There has been little focus on the potential of network and operational improvements, such as changes in headways, route spacing, and stop spacing, to reduce transit emissions. Most models of transit system design consider user and agency cost while ignoring emissions and the potential environmental benefit of operational improvements. We use a model to evaluate the user and agency costs as well as greenhouse gas benefit of design and operational improvements to transit systems. We examine how the operational characteristics of urban transit systems affect both costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The research identifies the Pareto frontier for designing an idealized transit network. Modes considered include bus, bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail transit (LRT), and metro (heavy) rail, with cost and emissions parameters appropriate for the United States. Passenger demand follows a many-to-many travel pattern with uniformly distributed origins and destinations. The approaches described could be used to optimize the network design of existing bus service or help to select a mode and design attributes for a new transit system. The results show that BRT provides the lowest cost but not the lowest emissions for our large city scenarios. Bus and LRT systems have low costs and the lowest emissions for our small city scenarios. Relatively large reductions in emissions from the cost-optimal system can be achieved with only minor increases in user travel time.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number044046
    JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
    Volume8
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

    Fingerprint

    Gas emissions
    Greenhouse gases
    greenhouse gas
    Motor Vehicles
    Gases
    Costs and Cost Analysis
    cost
    Costs
    Light rail transit
    Rapid transit
    spacing
    Light
    Automobiles
    Optimal systems
    Travel time
    Purchasing
    network design
    Rails
    travel time
    Systems analysis

    Keywords

    • greenhouse gases
    • optimization
    • public transportation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Environmental Science(all)
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

    Cite this

    Tradeoffs between costs and greenhouse gas emissions in the design of urban transit systems. / Griswold, Julia B.; Madanat, Samer; Horvath, Arpad.

    In: Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 8, No. 4, 044046, 01.01.2013.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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