Public transportation has long been seen as a great boon for the environment. Any sort of ride sharing cuts a percentage of the sharers’ carbon footprint. That’s not to say that transit agencies don’t have a carbon footprint. On the contrary, they utilize large vehicles that oftentimes emit the same kind of emissions that are coming out of every other vehicle on the road.
There are options for paratransit agencies to reduce their emissions, either by using “greener” vehicles, better route planning or a combination of both. This is an area for paratransit to take advantage of with the potential to reduce expenditures. The alarming news is that we may be forced to reduce expenditures or adopt greener vehicle technologies sooner than is realistically possible if the scientific news about the planet continues to worsen. If the earth’s population does not adopt greener attitudes toward the planet, an irreversible climate shift appears likely.
The data related to climate change is both sobering and daunting. Whether people believe that climate change is a real threat is almost irrelevant. If the government starts to believe it and legislate around the change, we will be forced to react as industry. This includes provisioning new equipment and the impact to capital expenditure is significant and will need to come from somewhere.
Modern vehicles such as the Dodge Sprinter provide an avenue to realize more efficient miles per gallon (MPG) standards than many competing vehicles in production.
This will enable paratransit agencies to stretch their fuel expenditures and realize true cost savings. Paratransit operations have begun to adopt these types of fuel efficient vehicles into operation. As an example, TransDev in Baltimore, MD has deployed several dozen into their MTA operations.
The MPG standards they achieve as a group are even more impressive. Transit is often viewed as a green option and that green image is becoming even more important. Whether the green aspect of paratransit and even more importantly, the productivity levels of paratransit, back that green image is the question. If greener vehicles are deployed but maintain the same average scheduling practices, the industry is missing a tremendous opportunity for improvement.
No matter how green transportation agencies are perceived the reality is many agencies can do a better job at doing their part in reducing their carbon footprint. As the world becomes increasingly fragile there are options to reduce emissions even more than there were just a few years ago. In the future agencies’ options to become greener will become even easier. It’s up to them to make the correct decision.