Exploring Approaches Towards a Sustainable Transport System


Stephen Potter

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - travel demand management, planning - travel demand management, land use - planning, ridership - demand, policy - environment, policy - sustainable, organisation - management, mode - mass transit


Trip reduction, Trip length, Trip generation, Travel distance, Travel demand management, Travel behavior, Transportation policy, Transportation demand management, Transit, Traffic generation, TDM measures, Sustainable transportation, Sustainable development, Sustainability, Strategies, Strategic planning, Public transit, Priorities, Objectives, Modal shift, Mass transit, Local transit, Greenhouse gases, Goals, Environmental protection, Environmental policy, Environmental planning, Environmental management, Carbon dioxide


This paper undertakes a 'backcasting' analysis exploring strategic approaches for overall systems sustainability in personal transport. Starting from a robust definition of sustainability for the personal transport sector, the paper examines the impact of combinations of transport technologies and changes in travel behavior in reducing CO2 emissions towards a sustainable level. In doing so, a simple equation model is used. This is made simple in order to provide a tool for developing understanding for anyone exploring transport's sustainability challenges. It is concluded that technical measures in isolation are likely to be ineffective and politically problematic. Equally, even substantial modal shift to public transport cannot by itself attain the sustainability target. Trip length in particular must be a focus for demand management measures. A combined strategy of both technical improvements and demand management addressing trip length/generation and modal share can provide the necessary improvement, although implementation of such a package remains politically challenging.