EMBARQ: Smarter Transit
EMBARQ, a global nonprofit, is tackling some of the developing world’s most complex urban challenges.
How does a transportation network cope with ever-increasing demands on its systems and infrastructure? Thanks to rapid growth in urbanization, numerous cities around the globe are struggling with that question. And while the issue is critical now, it will only intensify in the years ahead. The United Nations estimates that the world’s urban population will expand by 2.5 billion people between now and 2050, with much of the growth happening in developing nations.
Since 2002, EMBARQ, the World Resources Institute’s Center for Sustainable Transportation, has been working with cities on sustainable transport and planning solutions that address such problems as pollution, traffic congestion, and driver and pedestrian safety. In the years since its founding, the organization has produced a wealth of tangible results, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2.8 million tons, saving nearly 1,500 lives, and reducing travel time by a combined total 1.1 billion hours.
Here’s a look at several recent projects.
Bus Rapid Transit in Mexico City
In 2005, EMBARQ partnered with FedEx on a program designed to optimize bus rapid transit (BRT) operations in Mexico City, one of the world’s most congested urban areas. The program has featured ongoing workshops and knowledge-sharing events on a range of topics — everything from vehicle asset management to route design, driver safety training, and more. The results have been remarkable. Ridership has grown steadily, and the city now has multiple BRT lines that carry approximately 900,000 riders per day. EMBARQ estimates that the initiative reduces 120,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
The program has expanded into other areas as well. Case in point: EMBARQ has instituted a BRT driver training program based on the FedEx driver safety training curriculum. Since 2012, more than 1,000 BRT drivers have taken road safety training courses and workshops. The long-term goal: reduce traffic accidents by 30 percent on BRT corridors.
FedEx-EMBARQ Mobility and Accessibility Program
In 2012, FedEx provided a two-year grant that has helped EMBARQ broaden its scope beyond Mexico to urban centers in India and Brazil. The resulting FedEx-EMBARQ Mobility and Accessibility Program (MAP) now targets more than 30 cities in all three countries — with a goal of expanding to a total of 100 by 2016. The grant also created the FedEx-EMBARQ Transportation Fellowship, which educates EMBARQ representatives from the countries on different aspects of FedEx operations, including fuel technologies, routing design, vehicle maintenance, and much more.
Another key MAP initiative is the Sustainable Urban Transportation Fuels and Vehicles (SUTFV) project, which has created a database on clean fuels and vehicles, along with a comprehensive study on bus exhaust. The study provides insights into how different fuel and vehicle types contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It also offers strategies on ways for urban bus fleets to reduce emissions and boost fuel economy. (You can download the study here: http://embarq.org/research/publication/exhaust-emissions-transit-buses.)
Bringing Sustainable Transportation to Beijing
Beijing, China, offers a particularly telling illustration of the challenges that accompany rapid growth. Over the last 25 years, the city’s population has doubled — from 10 million residents to more than 20 million today. While it has an extensive highway and public transit network, it continues to struggle with traffic congestion and air-quality problems.
In response, city leaders have launched an aggressive five-year plan to clean up its air and solve its traffic problems. In 2014, EMBARQ helped organize a sustainable transportation workshop to aid these efforts. The workshop, sponsored by FedEx, brought in more than 80 transportation experts from around the world to discuss lessons they’ve learned in their cities. It also covered advances in sustainable urban transport policies and strategies on how to involve the public in decision-making processes. Solving Beijing’s transport issues will take time, but the workshop was a key part of the city’s proactive, long-term plan for sustainability.
To learn more about EMBARQ, go to www.embarq.org.
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