Mayors and Transport Unions Demand Historic Global Investments in Public Transport to Create 4.6 Million Jobs and Drive COVID-19 Recovery

30 Mar 2021

Research published today reveals public transport stimulus funds to protect and expand jobs in cities is vital for a green and just COVID-19 recovery.

Proper investment in public transport will create 4.6 million additional jobs in the next decade and cut emissions from the transport sector by more than 50% across C40 cities.

European Transport Workers’ Federation joins the global unions and cities across the world to demand that governments make an urgent injection of stimulus funding into public transport services and infrastructure in order to drive economic stimulus, create millions of jobs and tackle the climate crisis. As ridership has fallen during the COVID-19 pandemic, so has revenue – public transport agencies across cities worldwide face a critical funding shortfall that threatens jobs and services.

Research published today, The Future of Public Transport confirms that green investment in global public transport systems will not only safeguard existing jobs, but will also create millions of decent, sustainable jobs and cut emissions from the transport sector in cities by over 50% in the next decade. At a time of global mass unemployment and economic hardship, protecting jobs and stimulating employment opportunities will benefit millions of people who rely on public transport the most – the key workers providing vital services during the pandemic, women, young people and marginalised communities.

The report finds that proper investment in public transport could:

  • Create 4.6 million additional jobs by 2030 across 100 cities in the C40 network, and their supply chains, with multiplied economic impact as a result of greater public transport access. Scaled up to cities around the world would mean tens of millions of new good green jobs.
  • Reduce air pollution from transport in some cities by up to 45%.
  • Cut emissions from urban transport by more than half by 2030, as required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and keep global temperature rise to below 1.5°C. Failing to support public transport will make it impossible for cities to reduce transport emissions, and to reach net zero by 2050 given that transport accounts for about one third of all C40 cities’ emissions.
  • Protect tens of millions of workers in lower income and service sector jobs who have been heroes during the pandemic and rely on public transport for their livelihoods, including hospital staff, retail workers and other sectors critical in delivering the Covid-19 recovery for cities around the globe.
  • Connect city residents to work and education opportunities, leisure activities and each other, vital in creating vibrant, thriving, equitable communities and supporting recovery efforts from the pandemic.

The ‘Future is Public Transport’ initiative is co-organised by C40 Cities, a coalition of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities, and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), who represent 20 million transport workers. This call for global investment is part of C40 Cities’ global mobilization of mayors for a green and just recovery from COVID-19, and ITF’s mission to secure decent jobs for transport workers and guarantee economic, environmental, racial and social justice for all.

The campaign is backed by strategic partners the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), who represent 1800 public transport companies, as well as the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Public Services International (PSI), Greenpeace, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), WIEGO: Women In Informal Employment, 350.org and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

Research Highlights Measuring Impact and Outcomes

The Future of Public Transport report created four model city types to explore the full dynamics of the three scenarios: Green Recovery, Public Transport Neglect, and Business as Usual. Every C40 city has been impacted in different ways during the COVID-19 pandemic because each has a different transportation profile, based on geography, development patterns, traveller behaviours, governance and culture. Recognizing the diverse set of variables that exist, the analysts developed city typologies using two primary parameters: GDP per capita and proportion of car use for passenger trips.

The four models include: Higher GDP Lower Car Use; Higher GDP Higher Car Use; Lower GDP Lower Car Use; and Lower GDP Higher Car Use. Researchers then modelled the benefits on jobs from stimulus, greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions and air quality gains by each city category.

Job creation

The Green Recovery scenario would generate between six and ten times as many public transport jobs by 2030, compared to a Public Transport Neglect scenario, in three out of four model cities (Lower GDP Lower Car Use, Lower GDP Higher Car Use, and Higher GDP Lower Car Use). The Higher GDP Higher Car Use model city is an outlier since a Green Recovery is estimated to generate nearly 250 times as many public transport jobs by 2030, compared to a Public Transport Neglect scenario.

Greenhouse gas emissions

By 2030, a Green Recovery scenario would reduce cities’ transport emissions by:

  • 78% in Lower Car Use, Higher GDP model cities
  • 71% in Higher Car Use, Higher GDP model cities
  • 67% in Lower Car Use, Lower GDP model cities
  • 34% in Higher Car Use, Lower GDP model cities

Air quality gains

By 2030, a Green Recovery scenario would reduce cities’ PM2.5 concentration by:

  • 47% in Lower Car Use, Higher GDP model cities (like Athens, Greece)
  • 45% in Lower Car Use, Lower GDP model cities (like Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • 16% in Higher Car Use, Higher GDP model cities (like Houston, USA)
  • 13% in Higher Car Use, Lower GDP model cities (like Cape Town, South Africa)

In Higher GDP Higher Car Use cities, the transport sector is a significant source of emissions — meaning these cities need to do more to meet their climate commitments in time for 2050. If these cities neglect public transport, they risk making no gains in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Major cities in the United States are overwhelmingly represented in the Higher GDP Higher Car Use model, underscoring the potential massive impact of public transport investment in the globe’s richest economy and second largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The types of stimulus investment C40 cities have planned for in their Climate Action Plans include:

  • New and improved segregated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, with faster, more frequent services, more comfortable buses, and safer, more accessible stations
  • New and improved metro, commuter rail and light rail with faster, more frequent services, new trains, and safer, more accessible stations
  • Electric ferry services
  • Investment in electric bus fleets
  • Upgrading micro and paratransit to cleaner vehicles, including electric minibuses
  • Electric vehicle fleet charging infrastructure
  • Integrated ticketing and real time information systems

Across the world, a green recovery means more jobs both directly through expanded transport systems and indirectly through opening up economic and educational opportunities, more social equity, more climate protections, and better public health for all.

The call for global investment is part of C40 Cities’ global mobilization of mayors for a green and just recovery from COVID-19 and follows the statement of the Urban 20 group of mayors from G20 countries to the G20 Italian Presidency calling for investment in public transport as part of a green and just recovery.

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