Sustainability assessment in transportation planning

Incorporating sustainability assessment in transportation planning: an urban transportation vehicle-based approach 

Environmental assessments are on the critical path for the development of land, infrastructure and transportation systems. These assessments are based on planning methods which, in turn, are subject to continuous enhancement.The substantial impacts of transportation on environment, society and economy strongly urge the incorporation of sustainability into transportation planning. Two major developments that enhance transportation sustainability are new fuels and vehicle power systems. Traditional planning ignores technology including the large differences among conventional, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles and buses. The introduction of alternative fuel vehicles is likely to change the traditional transportation planning process because different characteristics need to be taken into account. In this study a sustainability framework is developed that enables assessment of transportation vehicle characteristics. Identified indicators are grouped in five sustainability dimensions (Environment, Technology, Energy, Economy and Users). Our methodology joins life cycle impacts and a set of quantified indicators to assess the sustainability performance of seven popular light-duty vehicles and two types of transit buses. Bus Rapid Transit receives the highest sustainability index and the pickup truck the lowest. Hybrid electric vehicles are found to have the highest sustainability index among all other passenger vehicles. A sensitivity analysis shows the proposed sustainability dimensions produce robust sustainability assessment for several weighting scenarios. The results are both technology and policy sensitive, thus useful for both short- and long-term planning.  DOI:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03081060.2016.1174363

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