Climate Change has been causing extreme temperatures, a rising sea level and stronger weather disasters. This has affected the way cities, especially in low-lying coastal areas, rethink public transportation.
Many cities have been cutting back on carbon dioxide emissions as a first step. Public transportation accounts for half of the emissions. However, this won’t reverse the effects of global warming overnight. So some have taken initiative to adapt vehicles and develop infrastructure that are sustainable in the long run.
The U.S. Federal Transit Administration Deputy Therese MacMillan warned in an interview with WNYC Radio that roads and public transportation systems are already stressed by intense storms and things are only getting worse.
So here are how some cities that are preparing.
New York, New York
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy shut down certain subway lines for up to three weeks due to flooding. It destroyed stations in the Rockaways. And sea water inundated nine out of 14 subway tubes.
This year New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state would apply for a $4.5 billion in federal money to repair and strengthen the damaged subway system.
WNYC Radio reported that the city has built seawalls to protect certain tube and insulated electrical cables that could be destroyed by seawater.
Chicago has implemented a Climate Action Plan that allows the city to be prepared for upcoming storms and extreme heat. It is also participating in a federal pilot program to evaluate potential problems caused by climate change and to come up with solutions.
So far, Chicago has started repaving roads with a type of material that prevents water-related and heat-related damages like potholes. It has also been expanding roads to develop green areas on the side with plants that soak up excess water and are drought-resistant.
Atlanta, also known as “Hotlanta,” has also been using a “cool pavement” that can sustain extreme temperatures, like Chicago. Another method of cooling urban areas is by planting trees that provide plenty of shade. The city plans to add 10,000 more trees by the end of this year.
It's also created a model community in 2005 called Atlantic Station in which residents live within eight miles of commerce and basic services. This dramatically reduces the need for driving cars and greenhouse gas emissions.
In Europe, one in every four cities have been adapting to climate change. Munich, one of the leading cities, has a total ridership of public transportation of about 482 million passengers a year. And when it gets hot, the German city has been using groundwater to cool underground train stations
Munich is also one of the most ambitious cities. It wants to become completely dependent on renewable energy by 2025.
Toronto is using technology to become more sustainable. The city launched a pilot program testing LED lighting for street lights, parking garages, and pedestrian areas that consume less energy. It's also been using more hybrid taxis.
In 2008, Toronto approved a plan called The Big Move that would attempt to double the amount of people using public transportation, triple the length of train lines, and make more transit options available within a mile of 75 percent of the population. It may end up costing up to $50 billion.
Mexico City, Mexico
Finally in Latin America, Mexico City has been suffering from heavy air pollution which is worsened by climate change. Since 1990 under a project called ProAire, the city has put restrictions on car use. It's also created the longest rapid bus transit system and the largest bike-share program in Latin America. It’s estimated ProAire, which will end in 2020, has already cut 7.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.