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Open Access Research article

An economic way of reducing health, environmental, and other pressures of urban traffic: a decision analysis on trip aggregation

Jouni T Tuomisto* and Marko Tainio

Author Affiliations

Centre for Environmental Health Risk Analysis, National Public Health Institute (KTL), P.O. Box 95, FI-70701, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2005, 5:123  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-5-123

Published: 25 November 2005

Abstract

Background

Traffic congestion is rapidly becoming the most important obstacle to urban development. In addition, traffic creates major health, environmental, and economical problems. Nonetheless, automobiles are crucial for the functions of the modern society. Most proposals for sustainable traffic solutions face major political opposition, economical consequences, or technical problems.

Methods

We performed a decision analysis in a poorly studied area, trip aggregation, and studied decisions from the perspective of two different stakeholders, the passenger and society. We modelled the impact and potential of composite traffic, a hypothetical large-scale demand-responsive public transport system for the Helsinki metropolitan area, where a centralised system would collect the information on all trip demands online, would merge the trips with the same origin and destination into public vehicles with eight or four seats, and then would transmit the trip instructions to the passengers' mobile phones.

Results

We show here that in an urban area with one million inhabitants, trip aggregation could reduce the health, environmental, and other detrimental impacts of car traffic typically by 50–70%, and if implemented could attract about half of the car passengers, and within a broad operational range would require no public subsidies.

Conclusion

Composite traffic provides new degrees of freedom in urban decision-making in identifying novel solutions to the problems of urban traffic.