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Three Revolutions in Urban Transportation

Issues: Urban Transportation

Electrification, automation and ride sharing can revolutionize the urban transportation sector and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80 per cent (Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, May 3, 2017).

Lewis Fulton, lead author of the research and a Co-Director at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, explained that “when it comes to cars, what we learned early in life still holds true—sharing makes everything better.” He further said that “all the futuristic automotive technology being developed could make our cities more livable and the air more breathable—but only if we take ride sharing seriously.”

The research compares the environmental and fiscal impacts of three scenarios involving new transportation technology on a timeline until 2050:

  1. A business-as-usual scenario (BAU) – continued use of vehicles with internal combustion engines at an increased rate, and use of transit and shared vehicles adjusted for population and income growth.
  2. 2 Revolutions (2R) scenario – assumes technological advances in terms of automation and electrification.
  3. 3 Revolutions (3R) scenario – adds a maximization of ride sharing to the 2R scenario.

“Based on the underlying assumption motivating the electrification revolution that electric vehicles are mostly powered from low-carbon electricity sources and not carbon-intensive sources like coal or other fossil fuels, the 3R scenario would generate 0.7 gigatons of CO2 emissions worldwide annually by 2050. This is in contrast to 4.6 gigatons in the BAU scenario emissions and 1.7 gigatons in the emissions in the 2R scenario. Transportation costs would drop significantly to about $8 trillion annually in the 3R scenario, as opposed to $13 trillion in business as usual or $14 trillion in the 2R scenario” (ITDP, 2017)