The transport sector represents 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and rising rates of motorization threaten the world’s ability to meet global climate goals. WRI estimates that private vehicle travel should be reduced from its current path by up to 14%, and that high quality public transport infrastructure will be necessary for this transition. For example, estimates note that the top 50 highest-emitting cities in the world need to grow their rapid transit infrastructure from a current rate of 19 kilometers (12 miles) per 1 million residents to 38 kilometers. Public transport faces challenges in providing high quality service, maintaining operational funding and improving governance that can enable its prioritization and integration as the backbone of urban mobility.

As the most efficient mode of travel for moving many people, public transport is critical to achieving urban mobility systems that work for everyone. Public transport is also consistently cleaner, safer and more equitable than private vehicle travel. WRI helps cities and transport agencies improve their public transport systems to increase access to opportunities and core services for residents, increase financial sustainability and improve governance.

WRI provides direct technical support to cities and countries. WRI also partners with other organizations and city networks, collaborates on policy and financing solutions, and analyzes and supports efforts to improve public transport’s role in national climate plans.

Overall, Reimagining Public Transport supports cities in Brazil, China, India and Mexico to retain and grow the mode share, quality, efficiency and prosperity of public transport. The project also supports activities of the Mobility and Accessibility Program, the TUMI E-Bus Mission and participates in global initiatives like the World Bank’s Sustainable Mobility for All.

Reimagining Public Transport activities follow three key principles:

  1. Shift planning of public transport to create systems that provide low-income and under-represented groups access to jobs, education and core services.
  2. Provide sustainable financing to enable funding for high-quality infrastructure and operations that can provide reliable and frequent service, affordable to the public, from government, the private sector and new forms of finance such as demand management.
  3. Improve governance to be responsive to residents’ needs, including integrating services, preventing backshifts in public-private contracting, considering new governance structures and knowledgeable public sector management.


Cover image by Benoit Colin/EMBARQ