Yesterday after two long years I enjoyed attending a conference in Brussels on EU-funded Transport projects.
It was good to see old and new acquaintances and learn about the results obtained by projects recently finished and interim achievements of ongoing projects.
A comment from one of the speakers was: there are too many cars in cities and the effort of converting traditionally powered vehicles into electric ones wouldn’t solve the issue of congestion in cities.
I have been thinking of this aspect for years and I can’t agree more. The energy produced to charge vehicles has to be produced somewhere and somehow making the so-called “zero-emission vehicle” concept not equal to a complete environmentally-free mobility. Besides, between a congestion of fossil fuel powered cars and electric ones the only difference is the quality of the air in the traffic congested area. The queue will stay the same as well as the time wasted while waiting for reaching the final destination.
There are now several projects aiming to create new-generation charging points and others aiming to implement technologies that could charge cars while travelling, but the problems of our cities is indeed too many vehicles circulating along with those ones parked or in the process of parking.
In my opinion, the best solution possible would be redesigning and reinforcing the public transport networks and services. Instead of allocating a lot of money on different streams (e.g. EVs, installing charging points, agreeing on the standard of plugs, increasing the speed of charging EVs, building Vehicle-2-Grid (V2G)-ready cars etc.) it would be ideal to concentrate the total financial effort in making public transport appealing, fast, easy to use (also for people with permanent or temporary disabilities!), cheap and available 24/7.
As a matter of fact, when I left the event at 5:30pm the roads around the conference centre were totally congested, a lot of people nervous hitting the horn to try and gain a few meters of road, with a lot of air and noise pollution and hours of time wasted of these drivers.
Instead, I walked 5 mins to the closest tram stop. The tram arrived after 2 mins; the majority of this route is in segregated lanes and tunnels making the commercial speed satisfactory. Then I changed service at the same stop, took another tram and arrived to my hotel relaxed. It took me 40 mins to cover 5 kms and I paid 1.54 EUR (in Brussels you can buy a 10-trip carnet with a generous discount compared to the price of a single-trip ticket).
Oh yes, in my analysis above I didn’t write about the cost of travelling by car plus the cost of parking it and the cost of the wasted time spent in queues.
Isn’t this “there are too many cars in cities” complaint true? I think it is.
EPN Consulting Founder & CEO