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Cities Could Save $70 Trillion Through Energy-Efficient Transportation

Serious investments in improving the energy efficiency of urban transportation systems would have a huge payback for cities around the world to the tune of $70 trillion in savings, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The savings comes from money that no longer has to be spent on vehicles, fuel and infrastructure.

The need for cities to act is urgent, IEA says, because more than half the world’s population lives in cities, which are already suffering from traffic jams that translate into billions of dollars in lost fuel and countless hours of productivity – aside from the negative impact they also have on environmental quality, health and safety.

“As the share of the world’s population living in cities grows to nearly 70% by 2050 and energy consumption for transport in cities is expected to double, the need for efficient, affordable, safe and high-capacity transport solutions will become more acute,” says IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.

“Urgent steps to improve the efficiency of urban transport systems are needed not only for energy security reasons, but also to mitigate the numerous negative climate, noise, air pollution, congestion and economic impacts of rising urban transport volumes.”

Policy makers must take a long-term view to address the challenges, continues van der Hoeven. “Governments must think beyond individual technologies and electoral cycles, and consider how to build – and how to renew – cities that will accommodate and transport nearly 6.3 billion people by 2050,” she adds. “We must plan infrastructure, logistics and energy systems now that make sense today and over the coming decades.”

IEA’s report, “A Tale of Renewed Cities,” gives examples from more than 30 cities across the globe that illustrate the way forward.

New York saved 11 minutes off travel times after introducing express bus service and when Seoul reformed its bus system – reversing policies that encouraged crowding – both ridership and safety improved across the city. After revamping its urban rail system, Belgrade saw passenger levels triple in the first six months.
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