10 Tips for Establishing and Maintaining Green Public Transportation
by Jane Marsh
Public transportation is essential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change. Taking the bus still produces pollution, but it’s much less than all those riders driving cars. Fewer vehicles on the road mean less harmful gases in the air.
The Effects of Sustainable Public Transportation
Green transport refers to a more sustainable option than what people use currently. Carpooling is a good example. While it is not completely environmentally friendly, it is better than the alternative. More people driving together can significantly impact the environment. This concept also applies to taking the bus or other forms of public transit.
In addition, several cities have started to add electric buses to their public transit fleets.
Making use of more sustainable alternatives provides many advantages. Here are some of the benefits green public transportation can bring:
- Less harmful emissions: More people taking the train or the bus means fewer vehicles on the road. Wider adoption will lead to less carbon emissions.
- Saves money: Using public transport is significantly cheaper than maintaining a vehicle. For example, with bus transit, the only price you need to pay is your ticket. Cars require refueling and maintenance costs.
- Decreased congestion: Another benefit of the broad adoption of public transport is less traffic. This means people will get to their desired locations faster.
Here are 10 ways to establish green public transportation>>>
Encourage the Use of Public Transport
One of the best ways to establish sustainable public transportation is to encourage more people to use it. If no one takes advantage of it, it provides no value. Cities should do all they can to motivate individuals to take this option instead of driving.
The U.S. Department of Transportation released a report in 2010 that stated a regular 40-passenger bus needs at least seven people to be more sustainable than an average car. About 19% of full capacity is required for a train. More bus riders go a long way in establishing and maintaining green transit.
Implement Electric Public Transportation Methods
Electric bus adoption has been slow but has started to increase recently. China was one of the first countries to implement e-buses, but many others have begun to follow in its footsteps.
Electric transport offers significant benefits over regular public transportation. Cities should consider exploring this option further and accelerate implementation.
While EVs produce no tailpipe emissions, the generation of power they require does. However, the adoption of smart grids — which provide access to renewable energy — has been growing. Smart grids can save money and lower city emissions dramatically. E-buses and other electric vehicles are the best ways to establish greener public transit.
Invest in Public Transport
Many municipal transport budgets have taken a significant hit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in the public transportation sector is vital for making it the go-to choice for people. More funding would allow cities to build dedicated bus lines, which can greatly decrease transit time for commuters.
This can incentivize more individuals to use this method. In addition, more capital allows cities to better maintain road infrastructure and improve service frequency. This enhances accessibility and motivates more people to take the bus.
Here are a few ways funding could be raised:
- Private investment
- Public subsidy and finance
- Raised revenue
One way to get more people to take the bus is to implement technology to make it more accessible to commuters. Many individuals avoided public transit during the pandemic. However, cleverly designed apps can help with this issue.
For example, more agencies can use apps that provide users with updated information. These applications can notify people when the next bus will arrive, if it is full, and if there is enough space to perform social distancing on the vehicle. Apps that provide valuable insight can increase the use of public transportation.
Design for Public Transport First
Currently, most roads are designed with cars in mind. However, this needs to change if public transit is to become a more sustainable option. Cities should prioritize implementing dedicated bus lanes and add areas for light rail transit.
Another option that goes hand in hand with dedicated lanes is to prioritize these forms of transit. For example, programming and other technology can help traffic lights recognize buses and assign them precedence.
Designing first for the sector will make it more accessible to individuals. All this can motivate more people to use these transportation methods.
Make Public Transit and Ticket Solutions More Accessible
Some people avoid taking public transit due to safety reasons. Cities should implement sustainable solutions that will help remedy this and other issues. In addition, making ticket purchasing more convenient will encourage more individuals to take the bus.
There are many ways to make tickets more accessible and easier for people to access public transportation routes. For example, riders should be able to buy tickets online or use systems to purchase them, such as kiosks, onboard validators, and vending machines.
These methods make it a lot easier to obtain tickets. Prioritizing convenience and accessibility will aid in increasing ridership.
Develop Bus Routes Based on Rider Demand
One great way to increase public transport sustainability and decrease emissions is to base routes on rider demand. Online tools can gather data to determine important factors, such as user demand and traffic.
Buses can optimize their routes according to this information, making their service more efficient. This way, they don’t take unnecessary trips where no people would board. This helps decrease the number of buses needed and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Ensure Public Transport Is More Affordable
Public transportation is cheaper than driving, but it’s still not a suitable option for several low-income families. Making it affordable will open it to more people, which increases ridership.
Jakarta, Indonesia, won the 2021 Sustainable Transport award for implementing a three-hour window where commuters are only charged a flat fee.
Cities could consider offering a discount for a subscription service where people buy a whole month of travel or make rides cheaper for older people. More individuals taking the bus and fewer cars on the road dramatically decrease carbon emissions.
Improve the Experience
Improving the transportation experience can go a long way in encouraging ridership. One way to do this is to align transit with people’s busy schedules. Here are a few ways to promote ridership:
- Building more bus stops for quick and easy access
- Increasing service frequency
- Offering easy-to-read bus maps
- Strengthening accessibility and making it more convenient to purchase tickets
- Implementing mobile apps that provide valuable information, such as if the next bus is full
- Providing the service to areas where it is not yet available
Strengthen Public Transportation’s Image
Some people don’t want to take the bus because of ideologies that discourage them. For example, many believe public transportation is only for low-income people.
Improving the image and identity of public transit can lead to an increase in ridership. Agencies should run marketing campaigns highlighting these transportation methods’ benefits. A better identity could encourage individuals to leave their car at home and take the bus instead.
Sustainable Public Transportation
Implementing these tips can help cities establish and maintain green transport. Some of the best ways to do this are to encourage more people to use it, improve the experience, and make it more accessible. Increasing ridership will go a long way in reducing harmful emissions and creating sustainable municipalities.
Article by Jane Marsh
Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of