Impact of public transport strikes on traffic and pollution in the city of Barcelona

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - subway/metro, mode - bus, mode - car, mode - tram/light rail, mode - rail, place - europe, place - urban, ridership - commuting, technology - emissions


Air pollution, Public transport strike, Public transport use, Public Transport Substitution


Many Spanish cities’ air contains excessive levels of pollutants caused by traffic. These pollutants are associated with high concentrations of vehicles in urban and surrounding areas, such as Madrid and Barcelona. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 96.8% of Spain's population breathe polluted air. This paper provides empirical evidence on the effect of public transport strikes on Barcelona’s air quality through an econometric analysis. The period analyzed included 147 days of some kind of public transport strike: bus (57), metro (21), trains (71), and tram (4); and also four general strikes. The estimates show that public transport strikes increases the concentration level of SO2, CO, PM10, and NOX throughout the city, especially in the case of metro and RENFE trains. These results also allow us to understand how commuters substitute transport modes and to propose specific policies to increase public transport use.


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


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