Industry Insights

ITF: Public transport must double in cities over next decade to meet 1.5°C target

Public transport usage must double in global cities over the next decade, requiring $208 billion USD each year across C40 cities and creating 4.6m new jobs, show new figures from C40 Cities and ITF.

Remco Takken November 12, 2021
Making COP26 Count

C40 is a network of mayors of nearly 100 world-leading cities collaborating to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis. Mayors of some of those cities, union leaders, transport workers, transport authorities and civil society have united at COP26. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. Together, they called on the world’s governments to prioritise sustainable long-term investment in public transport or risk climate breakdown. As electric vehicles are the focus on the COP26 transport day, mayors and union leaders warn public transport must not be forgotten. To underline all this, C40 and ITF research released detailed interviews. They spoke with workers, union and city officials in 19 cities across the world that underline the urgent need for increased public transport investment. Interviewees warned of the dangers posed by fragmented, short-term and opaque approaches to funding, and called for a coordinated, carefully planned investment.

Advance a just transition

In a joint statement released in Glasgow, mayors, unions, transport authorities, regulators and partners all called on national governments. They need to collectively double public transport journeys in cities by 2030 and advance a just transition to zero-emissions public transport. That is, if they are to meet their climate goals and limit global heating to 1.5°C. Transport is currently responsible for a quarter of all global CO2 emissions. C40 and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have modelled this in new research across five major cities. These are: Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London and Milan. Apart from demonstrating what’s needed, as well as supporting the sustainable development of urban economies, the right investment would create tens of millions of jobs worldwide. This would be received with overwhelming public support, according to newly released opinion polling. There it shows 9 in 10 people want better, faster and more sustainable public transport in their cities.

Critical role of public transport

John Mark Mwanika, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Urban Transport Chair said: “Amid all the discussions at COP26 on the topic of electric vehicles, we can’t afford to forget the critical role public transport must and can play in hitting climate targets. Increasing access to and availability of good quality public transport requires a fair and just transition. People who live and work in cities want better public transport, green jobs, and cleaner air. All levels of government must work together to unleash state funding over the next decade to achieve this, and to create tens of millions of decent jobs worldwide.”

Call on world leaders

The Mayor of Austin Steve Adler; ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton; Secretary General of UITP Mohamed Mezghani and ITF Urban Transport Chair John Mark Mwanika among others, unveiled the joint statement in Glasgow. Their call on world leaders is meant to ensure three focus points. Firstly, that everyone living in urban areas has safe, frequent, affordable and accessible public transport within a 10 minute walk from their home. Secondly, investment in public transport is made a priority for national economic recovery plans. Also, for increasing public transport mode share to be made a key goal in climate plans. Thiurdly, the nearly 100 C40 cities that together contribute to 25% of the global economy, need to invest. They will need an estimated $208 billion a year every year this decade to deliver the transformation to improve, expand and electrify public transport . The current funds allocated for post COVID-19 public transport recovery are not sufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Full list of signatories

Mayor of London, C40 Chair-elect, Sadiq Khan; Governor of Jakarta, C40 Sustainable Mobility Vice Chair, Anies Baswedan; Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary; Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary; Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler; Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff; Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau; Mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López Hernández; Mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu; Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Mayor of Milan, Beppe Sala; Mayor of Rio De Janeiro, Eduardo da Costa Paes; Mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon; Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed; Mayor of Stockholm, Anna König Jerlmyr; Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai; Mayor of Vancouver, Kennedy Stewart; Ellie Harrison, Bring Back British Rail Coordinator; Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary; Suzanne Jeffery, CACCTU Chair; Heather Thompson, ITDP Chief Executive Officer; Susan Galloway, Get Glasgow Moving Treasurer; Jennifer McCarey, Glasgow TUC Chair; Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary; Mohamed Mezghani, UITP Secretary General; Sally Roever, WIEGO International Coordinator

Read more:
Public Transport Global Coalition Statement
Public Transport’s Importance for Residents of Globial Cities
Making COP26 Count