Mobility, sustainability, and public transport

Newsletter 16, October 2022

Riyadh bus rapid transit, opening soon

Dear ,

Welcome to Modasti’s newsletter. You are receiving this because you subscribed to it or we communicated at some point over the last few years. If you prefer not to receive this newsletter any longer, simply unsubscribe by clicking on the link in the footer.

This special edition of Modasti’s newsletter is dedicated to three interrelated topics: mobility, sustainability, and public transport.

Mobility: demand is growing again

Most of the world is entering a post-pandemic era, so travel demand is growing again. This summer seemed to have been a turning point in Europe, and optimism is growing again among many public transport operators.

People have also returned to the office, and the effects of the so-called office exodus (caused by hybrid working standards primarily in business districts, as explained in Modasti’s newsletter 14) seem to be fading away to a certain extent. A recent article reckons that ridership figures for Transport for London are promising (with an increase in metro ridership from 45% in January 2022 to 70% in the after-summer period). It should be noted that bus ridership is recovering faster than metro ridership in most cities.

Sustainability: the need to reduce emissions

Sustainability has always been a multi-interpretable term. Companies and investors have used more workable concepts like CSR (corporate social responsibility) and ESG (environmental, social and governance). ESG has been very popular over the last few years. In July, The Economist argued that the concept has many faults and that all energy should be directed towards reducing emissions (see this article).

I completely agree with this view. CSR and ESG are too broad, too vague, and will not prevent us from the long-term dangers associated with climate change. In that sense, we should focus all our “sustainability energy" on reducing carbon emissions.

Public transport: an effective solution

Public transport and active mobility (walking and cycling) are very effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions, especially in an urban context. While the mass deployment of electric cars will undoubtedly contribute to the decarbonization challenge, it is not the preferred solution in dense cities where there’s not enough space for all these private cars. Furthermore, electrifying cars does not solve the problems of road injuries and traffic jams.

A core urban rail system (consisting of metro and/or light rail) and an extensive bus network (preferably with a bus rapid transit component) are effective solutions for many cities around the world to decarbonize their transport systems. Ideally, this would be supported by a comfortable cycling network, walkable streets, and campaigns to motivate people to exercise more in their daily routines. After all, taking public transportation gets you to 5,000 or 10,000 steps per day much faster, which is praised by a number of health apps.

Many cities worldwide still heavily rely on individual car travel, and it’s mainly for these cities that the construction of a comfortable and inclusive public transport system can decarbonize their transport systems. Besides that, high-quality public transport also contributes to urban citizens' quality of life and positively influences the economy.

See you in Amsterdam?!

I will participate in the World Passenger Festival in Amsterdam from November 16 to 18 this year. The festival is a platform for global public transport leaders, and I have the privilege of moderating three sessions. These sessions cover green travel, national MaaS, and smart cities.

Maybe I’ll meet you there, and please drop me a message if you would like to give a reaction to this newsletter!

Arjen Jaarsma, Public Transport Expert at Modasti Consulting
Arjen Jaarsma Public Transport Expert
+31 6 235 88 096
Modasti Consulting

Modasti Consulting B.V.

Hofvijver 177, 5223 MC ’s-Hertogenbosch

the Netherlands