The past decade has been a pretty incredible time for advances in sustainable transportation. All over the globe, scientists and engineers have worked harder than ever to create greener ways to get around. In looking back, three developments stand out in particular.
Highlighted by well-known models like the Chevy Volt, plug-in hybrid cars are waning our society off its dependence on gas guzzlers. A Plug-in hybrid draws from the same concept as a traditional hybrid: an electric motor working in tandem with a traditional combustion engine. Where a plug-in hybrid differs, however, is its ability to operate solely on electricity if need be. A good deal of plug-in hybrids can even get commuters to and from work entirely on electric power, provided it’s a reasonable commute. With the surging popularity of these vehicles, it might not be a bad idea to compare your local electric company rates. Plug-in hybrid owners deserve the best prices available for their contribution to the environment.
Bike shares have been around in Europe for quite a while, but America’s adoption of the communal-based service has taken off only recently. Highly populated areas like Chicago, Miami, Portland and Charlotte have made a concerted effort to promote and expand bike share programs across the city. You can’t beat the convenience of a bike share – pick-up and drop-off are simple, and it’s nice not having to foot the bill for an expensive two-wheeler of your own. Plus, at the end of the day, they’re encouraging people to bike a few blocks rather than drive. Every bit of carbon emission we can avoid counts for something.
Bus Rapid Transit
Bus rapid transit, or BRT for short, is another concept that’s been around for a bit – but it hasn’t been until this past decade that policymakers really started to get the hang of it in places like China and India. BRT services look just like a typical city bus, but rather than moving with the flow of traffic, they have their own dedicated infrastructure much like trains or subways. Since theses busses operate on separate roadways, they’re rarely off schedule and they can get from A to B without any interruption. That makes for quick commutes and happy customers. Best of all, many environmentalists attribute huge environmental perks to BRT systems. With less roadway congestion and fewer people driving, it’s easy to see how BRTs can help reduce our carbon footprint.
Plug-in hybrids, bike shares and BRTs are three of the most important developments we’ve made as a forward-thinking society, but they’re not the only ones. As time goes on, it’ll be interesting to see how we transition into a cleaner, greener society. Ultimately, the expansion of sustainable transit can only be a good thing for the health of our planet.