Air quality in tramway and high-level service buses: A mixed experimental/modeling approach to estimating users' exposure

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus rapid transit, mode - tram/light rail, technology - emissions, place - europe, place - urban, policy - environment, planning - methods


Urban area, Rapid public transport systems, Particles, Mobile measurements, Clean air policies


Airborne particulate matter (PM) and particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHp) were monitored both inside and outside of a tramway and two types of high-level service buses within a major French conurbation. The air quality variations among tramway and the different bus rapid transit systems were large and significant. This proved to be a complex issue involving contamination and clearance processes, as evidenced by mechanisms like in-vehicle PM generation and indoor accumulation of the outdoor PAHp pollution. Given these empirical results, a simple lung-accumulation model has been formulated in order to estimate the public transport users' (PTU) exposure during their journey. Calculations draw attention to situations and categories of individuals to be targeted by clean air policies. For instance, despite being chronically exposed to excessive concentrations in heavily built-up and trafficked areas, PTU would accumulate in their lungs 4–11 times less PM and PAHp than nearby pedestrians walking the same route. These pedestrians are more likely to experience short episodes of strong lung accumulations. Moreover, the numerical approach employed herein allowed: (i) estimating a distance at which walking could be considered a viable alternative to the use of public transport services; (ii) probing the relevance (in terms of lung accumulations) of both EU and US standards; and (iii) proposing exposure reduction strategies.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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