Not only is public transportation important when it comes to providing the workers with means to travel to work and other essential and leisure trips; it enables congestion levels to be better distributed across different transport modes, thus usually contributing to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, for example, if individuals opt for public transport rather than driving by car. Over longer distances passenger rail can provide an alternative to private cars or flying, with high-speed rail being especially competitive in this regard.
Public transport: what and where?Local and regional public transportation can be structured into various types of transit: bus transit, light rail transit, rapid transit, and ferries. Bus transit is one of the most frequented mode of transit used, providing street transportation services on an extended network of lines. Latin America currently boasts the highest number of daily passengers on its bus rapid transit (BRT) systems, and Rio de Janeiro is one of the busiest cities globally in terms of passenger journeys. South and southwest Asia are projected to record the largest demand for urban bus transit globally by 2027, with demand forecast to grow to over 4.1 trillion passenger kilometers.
Light rail transit is a semi-rapid mode of transit, providing transport services on separated rail infrastructure in urban areas. Tramway systems are more predominant in Europe, the cumulative length of the network exceeding 9,100 kilometers in the region, with other regions lagging far behind.
Coach or rail for long-distance?Rail, and in particular high-speed trains, can offer a public transport alternative to driving by car or flying. Intercity and international rail passenger demand is expected to grow substantially over the next decades, particularly in east and southeast Asia, where passenger demand is projected to grow by over 600 percent between 2022 and 2050. This area also boasts some of the fastest trains worldwide. China’s and Japan’s Maglev trains have been recorded at speeds at or above 600 kilometers per hour.
However, the cost of building and maintaining rail infrastructure in addition to a road network, have meant that some regions have a much stronger coach sector for long distance travel rather than relying on rail to provide this service. The global long-distance bus and coach sector is projected to reach 540 million users by 2027, compared to the 1.06 billion users the rail sector is expected to serve by 2027.