The Role of Electric Drive Transit Technologies in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Accounting for 71 percent of the petroleum consumption, the U.S. transportation sector generates about one third of nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While public transportation is a relatively small portion of the overall transportation sector it is not insignificant, producing approximately 10.9 million tons of GHG emissions annually. Reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions of public transit vehicles can provide substantial cost savings and generate significant environmental benefits.

The U.S. Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) strategic vision focuses on the wide adoption of the innovative electric drive transit technologies as an ultimate alternative to traditional diesel-powered transit vehicles. To implement electric propulsion transit technologies, FTA developed the Electric Drive Strategic Plan (EDSP) that provides for a wide range of activities for the development, demonstration, and evaluation of the advanced electric drive technologies including propulsion systems, components, accessories and infrastructure. The ultimate goal of this plan is to achieve commercial availability of zero tailpipe emission, highly efficient and affordable transit vehicles by 2030, leading to drastic improvements in the energy efficiency and GHG emissions of the U.S. transit fleet.

Implementing the goals of the EDSP is projected to save 4.9 billion diesel gallon equivalents of fuel and eliminate 98.7 thousand tons of NOx and 52.9 million tons of CO2 in tailpipe emissions over the period from 2010 through 2030. The implementation and wide adoption of electric drive transit technologies in the U.S. is expected to significantly reduce public transportation fuel costs and provide environmental benefits valued at $1.4 billion over the 20-year period.

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Source: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Urban Public Transportation Systems (ICUTS-2013). November 17-20, 2013. Paris, France.

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