June 14, 2024

How to reduce CO2 emissions with multimodal transportation

En this article, we will delve into the significant relationship between transportation, health, and sustainability. We will specifically focus on exploring concrete strategies to mitigate CO2 emissions through the implementation of multimodal transportation.

Multimodal transportation: the key to CO2 reduction

Multimodal transportation emerges as an effective strategy for reducing CO2 emissions associated with passenger transportation, allowing a shift towards more sustainable modes of transportation based on the distance to be traveled from the point of origin to the destination.

The combination of different means of transportation, such as trains, buses, or bicycles, not only optimizes the efficiency of the journey but also significantly contributes to carbon footprint mitigation by leveraging more environmentally friendly modalities.

It is essential to consider the amount of CO2 emitted per passenger and kilometer for each mode of transportation and how we travel. This data provides a clearer and more detailed perspective on the environmental impact associated with modal shift. By being informed about the specific emissions of each mode of transportation, individuals and communities can make more conscious decisions when planning their journeys, opting for alternatives that minimize environmental impact and contribute to the transition to a more sustainable transportation system. Awareness of these emissions can also drive the adoption of more eco-friendly technologies and practices in the design and operation of transportation systems.

For longer distances: from plane to train

As it is evident, the airplane emerges as the most polluting mode of transportation. Although it is difficult to envision a near future without the predominant presence of airplanes in long-distance air travel, the dynamics change considerably in the realm of short trips or flights within the same continent. It is here where the train emerges as a more sustainable and less environmentally damaging alternative.

In the last decade, the European Commission has implemented laws and policies aimed at establishing a single railway space. The purpose of these measures is to revitalize the railway sector by creating a single market of interoperable services that foster innovation and competition, thus promoting a more efficient and sustainable railway transportation system.

In regions well-connected by high-speed trains, there is a trend towards banning or discouraging short-distance flights, as exemplified by France, one of the first countries to implement restrictions on routes that can be completed within two and a half hours by rail service.

For long distances, from car to train

In recent years, new railway transport operators have ended the monopoly established for 80 years by Renfe in Spain, representing a significant change in the country's railway transportation landscape, providing users with a competitive and diversified alternative compared to traditional train options. The arrival of new competitors and the expansion of the railway market in Spain not only constitute a milestone in terms of competition but also have positive repercussions from an environmental perspective. By offering travelers more options to travel by train nationally, there is the possibility of significantly reducing long-distance car travel, the second most polluting means of transportation. This transition to the train as a more sustainable option becomes especially relevant when compared to the car, especially when the latter only transports one occupant.

Intermodal mobility Vs. Multimodal mobility

For short distances, from car to micromobility

Although cities continue to be heavily influenced by the use of cars as the main means of mobility, this dependency entails notable challenges, such as traffic congestion and pollution. A critical aspect of this issue is that most vehicles operate with only one occupant, often making daily commutes to their workplaces. This pattern significantly contributes to traffic congestion and the emission of polluting gases.

In the last decade, we have witnessed a proliferation of shared transportation services, a trend that, while it has contributed to optimizing available seats in cars through modalities such as carpooling, has not effectively addressed emission reduction, especially in the case of taxis. Nevertheless, it is important to mention that some taxi fleets are beginning to be replaced by electric vehicles, a positive step towards reducing the environmental footprint associated with urban transportation.

In this context, modal shift emerges as a crucial solution, especially considering that in many cities, the most common commute in shared transportation services covers distances of less than 5 kilometers.

For the present and the future: multimodal mobility platforms

With the focus on the next ten years, a radical change in how people approach urban mobility is envisioned, betting on a more efficient, sustainable, and connected approach. Experts anticipate that individual car ownership will lose relevance in favor of a multimodal transportation system, where a variety of options will allow citizens to move more conveniently around the city. This shift is primarily driven by two key forces: the rise of the Internet and the proliferation of smartphones, with Spain being the country with the highest penetration of these devices per capita.

The transformation of mobility becomes paramount when considering that the current system becomes obsolete when 60% of car journeys cover extremely short distances, less than eight kilometers. This fact not only highlights the inefficiency of using individual vehicles for such short trips but also underscores the surprising statistic that approximately 70% of vehicles spend more than 90% of their lifespan parked.

Furthermore, trends in urban population growth and density reinforce the need for more efficient mobility. It is estimated that by the year 2025, 60% of the world's population will reside in urban environments. This increase in urbanization poses significant challenges in terms of congestion and sustainability, further driving the transition towards multimodal transportation systems that can adapt to the growing demand for mobility in an intelligent and sustainable manner.

In conclusion, the path towards a more efficient, sustainable, and connected mobility leads us directly to the adoption of multimodal transportation. This approach not only addresses the need to reduce CO2 emissions but also aligns with the technological and demographic trends that will characterize the next decade. The flexibility and diversity of options provided by multimodal mobility become the key to addressing contemporary challenges in cities, from congestion to pollution.

Want to know why Meep's multimodal route planner is one of the most advanced on the market? Don't hesitate to contact us.

Diego Ochoa
Marketing Manager