News December 10, 2020

Reflecting on Transport in Winter 2020

Leaf bus
  • Article Author Oliver Walker CFF Knowledge and Learning Officer
  • Date December 10th 2020

Many people had high hopes for authorities to take ambitious climate action in the transportation sector in 2020. There were plenty of reasons to be optimistic -with COP26 in Glasgow being seen as the most important international climate discussions since the signing of the Paris Agreement, discussions finally taking place to tackle shipping emissions by the IMO, and the capital cost of electric vehicles rapidly decreasing. However, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have entirely altered the transportation landscape. Public transport in almost every city in the world has been hit hard, with some cities temporarily suspending public transport and others recording drops in passenger use of up to 96% because of the perceived risk of infection and government rules on physical distancing and crowding. While most public transport systems have been able to partially cover their costs, it is very likely that this will have long lasting effects as the negative perceptions persist. All of this, despite evidence from Japan and France that public transportation is safe if precautions are taken.

Despite this, the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) sees the cities it is engaging with worldwide are still committed to protecting, improving, and expanding their zero-carbon transit options and sharing their experiences with others. 

Mexico City Bus

Active transport has been one of the few 'heroes' of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many cities observe large increases in walking and cycling rates worldwide, with cities such as Mexico City noting that their cycling rates increased by 200% since the pandemic started. The CFF has been able to continue to help support this through a variety of activities:

  • The CFF, in collaboration with, organised a series of webinars to encourage discussions and the exchange of experiences that can help medium and small cities in the region implement their plans for bike share systems. You can find more information, presentations and recordings in Spanish (here and here) and Portuguese (here and here).
  • The CFF backed the development of a report looking at the multitude of financing and funding options available within Latin America to support the deployment of large-scale bike sharing systems. This report demonstrated that it is not necessary to resort to public investment or subsidies, as private sector companies can cover both the capital and operating costs of a bike-sharing system. You can find the report in EnglishSpanish or Portuguese.
  • The CFF supported the creation of a brief that looks at the Medio Milenio cycle avenue's impact.
  • The City of Tshwane and the CFF co-hosted a virtual Indaba that focused on growing the walking and cycling footprint in Tshwane and South Africa. The event aimed at building alliances, empowering more voices and co-creating a vision for walking and cycling. All voices are needed at the table to shift the perception of walking and cycling and make a case for greater integration of these low-carbon modes of transportation in the capital city, Tshwane. You can find details of the Indaba here and here.
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Meanwhile, despite the falling user-fares significantly impacting the balance sheets of both transit authorities and operators as a result of the pandemic, many cities are still looking at how to decarbonise their transportation fleet. This would address the climate crisis and protect their citizens from poor air quality, which studies have suggested relates to higher Covid-19 rates. The CFF has been able to continue to help support this through a variety of activities:

  • The CFF, in collaboration with ITDP and the City of Jakarta, organised a 4-part webinar series on zero-emission bus deployment as a formal pre-event to the 2020 Jakarta Development Cooperation Network Forum. The series focused on elements including pilot planning, business case development, technology and green financing. You can find more information, the presentations and recordings here.
  • The CFF organised a 5-part webinar series for Ecuadorian cities providing in-depth insights into some of the critical areas that cities need to consider when preparing a zero-emission bus project. This includes technology analyses, measuring transport demand, financial model creation, measuring environmental benefits and integrated transport planning. You can find more information, presentations and videos in Spanish here. The webinar series concluded with a co-creation workshop, and you can find more information and the presentations in Spanish here
  • The CFF developed a workshop focusing on how Mexican cities can deploy zero-emission buses. It covered the economic, environmental and health benefits of zero-emission bus adoption, institutional coordination, financial options in Mexico, inclusive transportation planning principles, pilot planning and long-term action planning. You can find more information and the presentations in Spanish here.
  • The CFF developed a report that aims to provide city officials and practitioners with an understanding of the key elements and considerations in determining an appropriate and cost-effective charging system to deploy zero-emission buses drawing on analyses' conducted in Jakarta by the CFF. This report is the first iteration, with a final version planned for early 2021. You can find the report here.
  • The CFF co-developed a 'spotlight' on zero-emission buses alongside the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40). This mini-platform includes resources relevant for a wide range of stakeholders on zero-emission buses. An example is op-ed's from the transit authorities of Santiago de Chile, Jakarta, Toronto and Vancouver on their experience of deploying zero-emission buses and why they remain committed despite Covid-19, research reports, data visuals, case studies and implementation guides. You can find the package of reports, case studies, guides and blogs here.