By 2050, 89% of the U.S. population will live in urban areas, making the need for accessible public transport even more of a priority.
It’s nothing new that car ownership and use continue to wreak havoc on the environment, all while causing chaos in our large cities. In fact, metropolitan areas that boast high levels of vehicular congestion show increased rates of early mortality and health problems compared to those observed in more suburban and rural areas.
(For example, heavily-congested New Delhi was the most polluted capital city in the world in 2018 and 2019. Last year, the city’s deplorable air pollution — which was primarily influenced by a mixture of car emissions and unusually hot weather — caused an estimated 54,000 premature deaths in the Indian capital.)
NY Times released maps that illustrate in stark terms what we know: the denser the neighborhood. the less the emissions per household.
To fight climate change, we need denser cities, more housing near jobs, biking, walking & transit. It's as critical as anything we can do. pic.twitter.com/emSHgwZcBd
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) December 13, 2022
Today, December 13th, the New York Times released its climate map for certain metros in the country, which included an iteration for San Francisco. What is unignorably clear is that city density is directly correlated to lower greenhouse gas emissions. By proxy: Affordable city housing, walkability, and, of course, access to public transportation remain essential in mitigating the climate crisis. In relation to urban areas: Creating more walkable, busable, and train-able areas can (and will) save lives and bolster community health.
Effective, accessible, usable public transportation remains one of our steadfast ways to better our cities, shore up the planet, and protect our health. Want a hyperlocal example of this here in the Bay Area? Taking BART can cut your greenhouse gas emissions getting from point A to point B by a factor of thirty.
“Taking BART to the same place every day for one month emits less CO2 than driving the same route just once, which translates into a car’s carbon footprint being about 30 times larger compared to riding the rails, according to the agency,” reads a bit of PSA website copy from The Bay Area Link that was published earlier this year. The video goes into great detail explaining the green bonuses of taking BART over personal cars.
“BART is one of the greenest options for Bay Area residents looking to move around the region,” the blog continues. “In 2020, BART achieved a 100% greenhouse gas-free (GHG-free) power supply with a combination of hydroelectric, solar, and wind energy.”
Moreover: BART is also on track to achieve 50% to 60% renewable energy in 2022, meaning that regular commutes on the agency’s rapid transit lines will produce even fewer carbon emissions in the future.
Although gas prices are finally starting to come down, we’re high-key going to (likely) enter a global recession in early 2023. Choosing to ride public transport instead of getting behind the wheel of a car continues to make more sense by the day.
Feature image: Courtesy of BART