People and the Environment in a Virtuous Cycle: Moving Toward Low-Carbon Transport

【(Reporter/Huang Shiting】The Dharma Drum University Preparatory Office invited Dr. Hu Yiqin to give a speech on "Transport Sector Energy Conservation and Carbon Reduction Measures and the Challenges for the Future" on the morning of July 20. Dr. Hu earned a PhD in Transportation Engineering from the University of Maryland and served as a general consultant for the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation for many years. The transport industry and related government departments have relied heavily on his extensive practical experience as an engineering consultant and professional expertise in transportation.

Dr. Hu's speech began by discussing the current situation regarding energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Taiwan’s transport sector. Backed by actual data, she said that the major portion of Taiwan energy consumption was derived from oil (about 50%), followed by coal (30%), both of which are high carbon-emission energy sources. The energy consumption of the transport sector, however, is only about 13-15%, which is lower than the world average of 22%. Following the opening of the high-speed rail, the transport sector’s energy consumption ratio showed a slight decrease.

Dr. Hu further explained that, in terms of transport sector carbon reduction strategies and traffic management systems in various countries, advanced countries in Europe and America have already developed public and intelligent transportation systems. In Asia, Singapore has long implemented a policy to control growth in the number of vehicles. Japan has achieved remarkable success by putting equal emphasis on developing public transit and intelligent transportation systems. These developments provide important reference norms for the management and development of Taiwan's transport sector.

Several approaches could be taken to implement these experiences in Taiwan. The first is to emphasize reductions in vehicle ownership and use, and promoting the use of mass transit systems and strengthening the carpool concept. In terms of intelligent transportation systems, over the past few years Taiwan has continuously promoted renovation of traffic control signals and expanded electronic toll collection for highways to reduce stopping and delays, and the use of LED energy-saving signals and lighting, energy-saving measures that have been quite effective. In the future, practical "eco-driving" methods may be promoted more actively, such as not warming up vehicles after starting, care in changing gears so that engine RPMs don’t get too high, and avoiding quick stops and starts, all of which facilitate energy savings.

The most important considerations making mass transit and carpooling necessary are Taiwan's land usage and energy utilization, factors that are not dependent on cars. In order to make the most efficient use of limited resources, guide people and the environment into a virtuous cycle, and promote the concept of sustainability, mass transit is the best option.


Dr. Hu also shared successful experiences in promoting Taipei's mass transit system, including policies prioritizing mass transit, supported by strategies that include the allocation of right-of-way for bus lanes, and prioritizing mass transit connection transfer stations, coupled with improvements to the rapid transit system and bus route network, integration of Easy Cards and ticketing, and transfer privileges, raising the mass transit system utilization rate to 45% over the past few years.

But Dr. Hu also explained that, although there have been many successes associated with Taipei City’s mass transit system, many challenges lie ahead, such as the long-term, comprehensive financial planning and associated measures that large-scale investment in a mass transit system require. Current global trends show that an energy tax appears to reduce the use of private transport, but changing the public's habits and behavior is not easy. Adoption of cars using alternative energy technology, which is still not mature, is another promising direction worthy of continued efforts.

At the end of the lecture, Dr. Hu pointed out with sincere words and earnest wishes that promoting a low carbon and green loop society still starts from the heart, appealing to the public to change their habits and thinking. And to do that, we should return to the “Protecting the Spiritual Environment” concept, and fulfill the goal of “Uplifting the character of humanity and building a pure land on earth” as the path to a comprehensive solution.