Matching Items (7)

Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of San Francisco Bay Area Muni Light Rail and Rapid Transit with Wholesale and Renewable Electricity

Description

Results are available here

The environmental life cycle assessment of electric rail public transit modes requires an assessment of electricity generation mixes. The provision of electricity to a

Results are available here

The environmental life cycle assessment of electric rail public transit modes requires an assessment of electricity generation mixes. The provision of electricity to a region does not usually adhere to geopolitical boundaries. Electricity is governed based on lowest cost marginal dispatch and reliability principles. Additionally, there are times when a public transit agency may purchase wholesale electricity from a particular service provider. Such is the case with electric rail modes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

An environmental life cycle assessment of San Francisco Bay Area public transit systems was developed by Chester and Horvath (2009) and includes vehicle manufacturing/maintenance, infrastructure construction/operation/maintenance, energy production, and supply chains, in addition to vehicle propulsion. For electric rail modes, vehicle propulsion was based on an average electricity mix for the region. Since 2009, new electricity contract information and renewable electricity goals have been established. As such, updated life cycle results should be produced.

Using recent wholesale electricity mix and renewable electricity goal data from the transit agencies, updated electricity precombustion, generation, transmission, and distribution environmental impacts of vehicle propulsion are estimated. In summary, SFMTA Muni light rail is currently purchasing 100% hydro electricity from the Hetch Hetchy region of California and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is purchasing 22% natural gas, 9% coal, 2% nuclear, 66% hydro, and 1% other renewables from the Pacific Northwest . Furthermore, the BART system has set a goal of 20% renewables by 2016. Using the GREET1 2012 electricity pathway, a life cycle assessment of wholesale and renewable electricity generation for these systems is calculated.

Chester and Horvath (2009)

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Environmental Life-Cycle Assessment of Los Angeles Metro’s Orange Bus Rapid Transit and Gold Light Rail Transit Lines

Description

Public transit systems are often accepted as energy and environmental improvements to automobile travel, however, few life cycle assessments exist to understand the effects of implementation of transit policy decisions.

Public transit systems are often accepted as energy and environmental improvements to automobile travel, however, few life cycle assessments exist to understand the effects of implementation of transit policy decisions. To better inform decision-makers, this project evaluates the decision to construct and operate public transportation systems and the expected energy and environmental benefits over continued automobile use. The public transit systems are selected based on screening criteria. Initial screening included advanced implementation (5 to 10 years so change in ridership could be observed), similar geographic regions to ensure consistency of analysis parameters, common transit agencies or authorities to ensure a consistent management culture, and modes reflecting large infrastructure investments to provide an opportunity for robust life cycle assessment of large impact components. An in-depth screening process including consideration of data availability, project age, energy consumption, infrastructure information, access and egress information, and socio-demographic characteristics was used as the second filter. The results of this selection process led to Los Angeles Metro’s Orange and Gold lines.

In this study, the life cycle assessment framework is used to evaluate energy inputs and emissions of greenhouse gases, particulate matter (10 and 2.5 microns), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide. For the Orange line, Gold line, and competing automobile trip, an analysis system boundary that includes vehicle, infrastructure, and energy production components is specified. Life cycle energy use and emissions inventories are developed for each mode considering direct (vehicle operation), ancillary (non-vehicle operation including vehicle maintenance, infrastructure construction, infrastructure operation, etc.), and supply chain processes and services. In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, the inventories are linked to their potential for respiratory impacts and smog formation, and the time it takes to payback in the lifetime of each transit system.

Results show that for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, the inclusion of life cycle components increases the footprint between 42% and 91% from vehicle propulsion exclusively. Conventional air emissions show much more dramatic increases highlighting the effectiveness of “tailpipe” environmental policy. Within the life cycle, vehicle operation is often small compared to other components. Particulate matter emissions increase between 270% and 5400%. Sulfur dioxide emissions increase by several orders of magnitude for the on road modes due to electricity use throughout the life cycle. NOx emissions increase between 31% and 760% due to supply chain truck and rail transport. VOC emissions increase due to infrastructure material production and placement by 420% and 1500%. CO emissions increase by between 20% and 320%. The dominating contributions from life cycle components show that the decision to build an infrastructure and operate a transportation mode in Los Angeles has impacts far outside of the city and region. Life cycle results are initially compared at each system’s average occupancy and a breakeven analysis is performed to compare the range at which modes are energy and environmentally competitive.

The results show that including a broad suite of energy and environmental indicators produces potential tradeoffs that are critical to decision makers. While the Orange and Gold line require less energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile traveled than the automobile, this ordering is not necessarily the case for the conventional air emissions. It is possible that a policy that focuses on one pollutant may increase another, highlighting the need for a broad set of indicators and life cycle thinking when making transportation infrastructure decisions.

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Methodology for the Environmental Life-Cycle Assessment of Los Angeles Metro’s Orange Bus Rapid Transit and Gold Light Rail Transit Lines

Description

The goal of this working paper is to provide the methodological background for several upcoming reports and peer-reviewed journal publications. This manuscript only provides background methodology and does not show

The goal of this working paper is to provide the methodological background for several upcoming reports and peer-reviewed journal publications. This manuscript only provides background methodology and does not show or interpret any of the results that are being generated by the research team. The methodology is consistent with the transportation LCA approach developed by the author in previous research. The discussion in this working paper provides the detailed background data and steps used by the research team for their assessment of Los Angeles Metro transit lines and a competing automobile trip.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012-07-30

Urban Infrastructure Design and Heat Vulnerability: Rethinking Infrastructure in Mesa, Arizona

Description

As the number of heat waves are expected to increase significantly into the future in the U.S. Southwest, new insight is needed into how urban infrastructure can be repositioned to

As the number of heat waves are expected to increase significantly into the future in the U.S. Southwest, new insight is needed into how urban infrastructure can be repositioned to protect people. In the Phoenix metro area infrastructure have largely been deployed over the past half century, during a time when climate change was not a concern. Now, as the county struggles to protect people from heat, there is a need to reassess how existing and new infrastructure can be positioned to reduce health impacts while improving sustainability. Using a neighborhood in Mesa, Arizona as a case study, we assess how changes to transportation infrastructure, building infrastructure, and landscaping can reduce heat exposure. A number of strategies are considered including the optimal deployment of heat refuges, deploying less convective surface materials, and deploying more thermally preferable building materials. The suite of strategies could be considered by cities throughout the Phoenix metro area.

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First-last mile life cycle assessment of Los Angeles transit

Description

With high potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may cause emissions similar to regular automobile

With high potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may cause emissions similar to regular automobile use. Due to limited literature and research that evaluates and discusses environmental impacts from first and last mile portions of transit trips, there is a lack of understanding on this topic. This research aims to comprehensively evaluate the life cycle impacts of first and last mile trips on multimodal transit. A case study of transit and automobile travel in the greater Los Angeles region is evaluated by using a comprehensive life cycle assessment combined with regional household travel survey data to evaluate first-last mile trip impacts in multimodal transit focusing on automobile trips accessing or egressing transit. First and last mile automobile trips were found to increase total multimodal transit trip emissions by 2 to 12 times (most extreme cases were carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds). High amounts of coal-fired energy generation can cause electric propelled rail trips with automobile access or egress to have similar or more emissions (commonly greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide, and mono-nitrogen oxides) than competing automobile trips, however, most criteria air pollutants occur remotely. Methods to reduce first-last mile impacts depend on the characteristics of the transit systems and may include promoting first-last mile carpooling, adjusting station parking pricing and availability, and increased emphasis on walking and biking paths in areas with low access-egress trip distances.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Sustainability implications of mass rapid transit on the built environment and human travel behavior in suburban neighborhoods: the Beijing case

Description

The sustainability impacts of the extension of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in suburban Beijing are explored. The research focuses on the neighborhood level, assessing sustainability impacts in terms

The sustainability impacts of the extension of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in suburban Beijing are explored. The research focuses on the neighborhood level, assessing sustainability impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and energy consumption. By emphasizing suburban neighborhoods, the research targets the longest commuting trips, which have the most potential to generate significant sustainability benefits. The methodology triangulates analyses of urban and transportation plans, secondary data, time series spatial imagery, household surveys, and field observation. Three suburban neighborhoods were selected as case studies. Findings include the fact that MRT access stimulates residential development significantly, while having limited impact in terms of commercial or mixed-use (transit-oriented development) property development. While large-scale changes in land use and urban form attributable to MRT access are rare once an area is built up, adaptation occurs in the functions of buildings and areas near MRT stations, such as the emergence of first floor commercial uses in residential buildings. However, station precincts also attract street vendors, tricycles, illegal taxis and unregulated car parking, often impeding access and making immediate surroundings of MRT stations unattractive, perhaps accounting for the lack of significant accessibility premiums (identified by the researcher) near MRT stations in suburban Beijing. Household-based travel behavior surveys reveal that public transport, i.e., MRT and buses, accounts for over half of all commuting trips in the three case study suburban neighborhoods. Over 30% of the residents spend over an hour commuting to work, reflecting the prevalence of long-distance commutes, associated with a dearth of workplaces in suburban Beijing. Non-commuting trips surprisingly tell a different story, a large portion of the residents choose to drive because they are less restrained by travel time. The observed increase of the share of MRT trips to work generates significant benefits in terms of lowered energy consumption, reduced greenhouse gas and traditional air pollution emissions. But such savings could be easily offset if the share of driving trips increases with growing affluence, given the high emission intensities of cars. Bus use is found to be responsible for high local conventional air pollution, indicating that the current bus fleet in Beijing should be phased out and replaced by cleaner buses. Policy implications are put forward based on these findings. The Intellectual Merit of this study centers on increased understanding of the relationship between mass transit provision and sustainability outcomes in suburban metropolitan China. Despite its importance, little research of this genre has been undertaken in China. This study is unique because it focuses on the intermediate meso scale, where adaptation occurs more quickly and dramatically, and is easier to identify.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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The role of informal transit in New York City: a case study of commuter vans in Eastern Queens

Description

Informal public transport is commonplace in the developing world, but the service exists in the United States as well, and is understudied. Often called "dollar vans", New York's commuter vans

Informal public transport is commonplace in the developing world, but the service exists in the United States as well, and is understudied. Often called "dollar vans", New York's commuter vans serve approximately 120,000 people every day (King and Goldwyn, 2014). While this is a tiny fraction of the New York transit rider population, it is comparable to the total number of commuters who ride transit in smaller cities such as Minneapolis/St Paul and Phoenix. The first part of this study reports on the use of commuter vans in Eastern Queens based on a combination of surveys and a ridership tally, all conducted in summer 2016. It answers four research questions: How many people ride the vans? Who rides the commuter vans? Why do they ride commuter vans? Do commuter vans complement or compete against formal transit? Commuter van ridership in Eastern Queens was approximately 55,000 with a high percentage of female ridership. Time and cost savings were the main factors influencing commuter van ridership. Possession of a MetroCard was shown to negatively affect the frequency of commuter van ridership. The results show evidence of commuter vans playing both a competing and complementary role to MTA bus and subway transit. The second part of this study presents a SWOT analysis results of commuter vans, and the policy implications. It answers 2 research questions: What are the main strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of commuter vans in Eastern Queens? and How do the current policies, rules and regulations affect commuter van operation? The SWOT analysis results show that the commuter van industry is resilient, performs a necessary service, and, with small adjustments that will help reduce operating costs and loss of profits have a chance of thriving in Eastern Queens and the rest of New York City. The study also discusses the mismatch between policy and practice offering recommendations for improvement to ensure that commuter vans continue to serve residents of New York City.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017