LEDS in Practice: Save money and time

8am, May 17th, 2016

This paper shares two case studies from cities that have taken action in the transport sector to shift people out of private vehicles. With this shift, the residents of these cities have realized the benefits of saving money and time and reducing emissions by using their private vehicles less often. Similar principles may be applied to other metropolitan areas.

People need transport to reach basic services such as health care and education, and to get to their places of work. Promotion of low carbon transport substantially decreases private household expenditure on transport by reducing both fares for public transport (through subsidies and low carbon transport infrastructure) and fuel costs of private vehicles. Commuters also save time as traffic congestion is eased. Savings in both household expenditure and travelling time can potentially increase the productivity and efficiency of commuters at work, releasing more opportunities for the development of the local economy.

Key messages

  • Low carbon urban transport offers a practical opportunity to save people’s time and household income as well as government budgets.
  • Policies that increase access to public transport and shift trips from motorized to non-motorized modes can reduce fuel consumption and congestion on the roads, making the transportation system more energy and time efficient.
  • Public investment in low carbon transport combined with land use planning that favors shorter travel distances can lead to savings that extend beyond the scale, time, and budget of the investments themselves.
  • For example:
    •         –  Low carbon transport patterns save residents of Portland, USA 700,000 tons of carbon
      dioxide per capita and US$1,314 of individual income annually.
    •         –  With the implementation of a bus rapid transit system in Guangzhou, China, the mixed traffic flow in the corridor has improved with a 20% increase in speed and has reduced emissions by an annual average of 86,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Download the paper here: LEDS in Practice: Save money and time by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from urban transport.

LEDS in Practice

This paper is one of a series on the co-benefits of low emission development strategies in the transport sector, from the World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (EMBARQ) and GIZ. Download the others here:

Image credit: Oregon Department of Transport

Institutions Involved

  • WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cites and GIZ


Benoit Lefevre, Katrin Eisenbeiß, Neha Yadav and Angela Enriquez
Links for Resource