Quantifying Transit’s Impact on GHG Emissions and Energy Use—The Land Use Component


External link: http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/172110.aspx

Publication date: October 19, 2015

Capsule summary: This study used statistical modeling to quantify the effects of land use, with emphasis on isolating the effects of transit systems.

Author(s): Gallivan, Frank; Rose, Eliot; Ewing, Reid; Hamidi, Shima; Brown, Thomas

Publisher(s): Transportation Research Board

Definition: Planning practices for pedestrians, bikes and transit
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Definition: Examining the environmental impacts of transportation
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Definitions: Passenger transportation services
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Definitions: The movement of people
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Definition: A public agency that operates and maintains passenger transportation services
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Definition: A federally funded transportation policy-making organization, comprised of local government representatives and transportation authorities
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Definition: A large urban area
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Description: Transit services contribute to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced within a region, but they also have the ability to alleviate the GHG emissions released in an area. This study modeled the effects of transit-related land use decisions in order to observe the community benefits provided by transit services. The project produced statistical models for the impact of transit systems on compact development, and developed a Land Use Benefit Calculator.

Objectives: The objective of this research is to inform transportation planners and practitioners of the land use benefits associated with transit services. This study was designed to quantify transportation-related GHG emissions attributable to transit land use decisions, and to establish an understanding of the synergistic relationship between transit and land use. The research began with a literature review, and then the research team developed statistical models and a Land Use Benefit Calculator to model the effects of land use decisions and observe relationships between variables.

Findings: This study observed several quantifiable benefits to the use of transit services, including land use benefits and causes for reduction of GHG emissions. Transit services allow for compact development, encouraging residents to walk, ride bicycles, and less frequently use automobiles for transportation – consequently, emissions are reduced. Compact development also contributes to lower vehicle miles traveled within an area as travel routes are shorter. Transit services provide many benefits to local residents, as well as for land use.

Recommendations: This report recommends best practices for estimating GHG emissions and emissions reductions through statistical modeling. By quantifying land use benefits through a tool such as the Land Use Benefit Calculator, practitioners can better inform their land use decisions and accurately present their emissions reductions and land use benefits.

Research Theme: Environment, Planning for Pedestrians, Bikes, and Transit

Community Type: City

Transportation Mode: Personal, Transit

Planning Scope:

Organization Type: City, MPO or RPO, Transit

Planning Subject: Development, Facility or Land Use, Plan Implementation, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Transportation, Transportation Planning