Impact analysis: shift from public means to public transport and active transport

At the request of Greenpeace Belgium, TML carried out an analysis for a policy  that would strengthen the backbone of a sustainable transport system.
Starting point of the study was the observation that, when current policies remain unchanged, the individual car use remains the dominant transport mode.  Furthermore, and despite the technological improvements and the shifts to cleaner cars, the climat targets are not being met.

This raised the following question: ‘What is the potential of a shift from public means to active & public transport?

This study aims to give insights in:
  • The public means that are invested in the various transport modes: road transport, public transport, and active transport; And
  • The possible effects on CO2, environment, congestion and health of an alternative scenario


Click here for a complete version of the final report.  

Summary of the results:
  1. How are the public means currently being spent?
Looking at the current expenditures, we found that approximately half of the means are being spent on road transport (52 %); the other half is being spent on more sustainable means of transport.  It’s remarkable that an important part of the expenditures on road transport is being spent on company cars and professional diesel (37 % of the expenditures on road transport).
When looking at the investments made for cycling, we found that there is little insight on the current expenditures for this mode of transport.  This holds even more true for pedestrians.  A policy that strongly focuses on active modi should ensure a clear insight on the expenditures for these modi.
Regarding the ‘fiscal benefits’, the company car is the clear winner. Indeed, we estimated the fiscal benefit for bicycle allowances to be 70 million euro, the fiscal benefit for public transport to be 100 million euro, and the benefit for the company car to be 2 billion euro.

      2. What happens if we would spend more money on public transport and active transport modes?
For the second part of the study, we used a calculation sheet to analyse the possible effects of an alternative scenario on CO2, environment, congestion and health.
This alternative scenario includes the following elements:
  • The abolition of the company car and the (often) included fuel card
  • The abolition of professional diesel
  • The implementation of an area-wide system for road charging
  • The investment of half of the revenues resulting from the obove-mentioned measures to promote public transport and active transport modes.

The result of this scenario is a clear decrease in individual road transport (- 22 %) to the benefit of active transport modes (doubling of walking and cycling) and public transport (+ 33 %). Furthermore, the external costs decrease with 1.5 billion euro.  Nevertheless, this scenario still doesn’t succeed in obtaining the CO2 target of – 35% between 2005 and 2030.  In the alternative scenario, the CO2 emissions decrease with 20 % compared to 2005; which is better than in the reference (- 8%), but still insufficient.  

In order to obtain the CO2 target, there is a need for additional policy measures.  This can entail measures that ensure a further decrease in transport demand – for instance by increasing the charges, or (over the longer term) a better spatial planning implying a lesser need for travelling, or a policy that advocates a stronger shift to electrical vehicles. 

Although in the alternative scenario we assume that 30% of all new cars are electrical vehicles, this is still insufficient to meet the climat target.  Although a road charging system differentiating amongst environmental characteristics or a modification of the traffic entry tax (BIV) could also contribute, we would still need a disruption to a certain extent.
Finally, we would like to point out that, although the alternative scenario mainly focused on passenger transport, there are possibly also some wins to gain in the field of freight transport.
We do notice, however, that the expenditures on road transport increase (+10% during the last 5 years) and those on train and public transport decrease (respectively -8% and -13% during the last 5 years).  This way, road transport is the modus receiving the biggest part of the transport investments in 2018, whereas in 2015, public transport and train received most of the investments.





Greenpeace Belgium



Our team

Bregtje Proost, Eef Delhaye, Kris Vanherle, Bruno Van Zeebroeck
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