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TCRP Research Results Digest 103: Sustainable Public Transportation: Environmentally Friendly Mobility

This TCRP digest summarizes the results of mission performed from April 1 through April 16, 2011, under TCRP Project J-03, “International Transit Studies Program.” This digest includes transportation information on the organizations and facilities visited. It was prepared by Harrington-Hughes & Associates, Inc., and is based on reports filed by the mission participants.


China and India now represent one-third of the world’s population. In the past 20 years, both coun­tries have experienced rapid economic growth and urbanization. The Chinese economy has become the second-largest economy in the world and India the fourth-largest.

This rapid expansion, however, presents new and signi.cant challenges to India, China, the global economy, and the environment. India’s population was approximately 30% urbanized in 2006, but this share is expected to grow to 60% before stabiliz­ing.1 Similarly, China’s urban population has reached nearly 50%.2 The transportation sectors in both economies are rapidly expanding their share of en­ergy use. If these countries follow the typical model of economic growth that involves high energy use and high consumption, their continued growth will have a signi.cant, and potentially dangerous, effect on the global environment. Air quality and traffic safety have declined precipitously in many urban areas as street congestion has worsened, and China is already displacing the United States as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The ITSP team visited two cities in India (Ahmedabad and Delhi) and three cities in China (Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai) to evaluate how these two countries are responding to the chal­lenges of urbanization and sustainable public transit systems.

Two of the cities recently were honored with the Sustainable Transport Award, which is given annu­ally by the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy (ITDP) in recognition of progress in in­creasing mobility for all residents while reducing transportation greenhouse and air pollution emis­sions and improving safety and access for cyclists and pedestrians. Ahmedabad received the award in 2010 and Guangzhou in 2011. Both cities were rec­ognized for their bus rapid transit (BRT) systems and high-quality pedestrian and bicycle facilities.