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Public transit systems have been identified as a critical component to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation sector to mitigate future climate change impacts. A

Public transit systems have been identified as a critical component to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation sector to mitigate future climate change impacts. A unique aspect of public transit is its use almost always necessitates environmental exposure and the design of these systems directly influences rider exposure via rider ingress, egress, and waiting. There is a tension between policies and programs which promote transit use to combat climate change and the potential impact an uncertain climate future may have on transit riders.

In the American Southwest, extreme heat events, a known public health threat, are projected to increase between 150 and 840% over the next decade, and may be a health hazard for transit riders. There are opportunities to incorporate rider health risks in the overall planning process and develop alternative transit schedules during extreme heat events to minimize these risks. Using Los Angeles Metro as a case studies, we show that existing transit vehicles can be reallocated across the system to significantly reduce exposure for riders who are more vulnerable to heat while maintaining a minimum level of service across the system. As cities continue to invest in public transit it is critical for them to understand transit use as an exposure pathway for riders and to develop strategies to mitigate potential health risks.

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  • 2017-10-24
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Fraser, A. M., & Chester, M. V. (2017, January). Transit Planning and Climate Change: Reducing Rider’s Vulnerability to Heat. In International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure 2017, 456-464. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1061/9780784481202.043

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