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Environmental Life-cycle Assessment of Passenger Transportation: A Detailed Methodology for Energy, Greenhouse Gas and Criteria Pollutant Inventories of Automobiles, Buses, Light Rail, Heavy Rail and Air v.2


  • Chester, Mikhail
  • Horvath, Arpad


The passenger transportation modes of auto, bus, heavy rail, light rail and air are critical systems relied upon for business and leisure. When considering their environmental effects, most studies and policy focus on the fuel use of the vehicles, and ignore the energy and other resource inputs and environmental outputs from the life cycles of necessary infrastructures, fuels, and vehicles. The goal of this project is to develop comprehensive life-cycle assessment (LCA) models to quantify the energy inputs and emissions from autos, buses, heavy rail, light rail and air transportation in the U.S. associated with the entire life cycle (design, raw materials extraction, manufacturing, construction, operation, maintenance, end-of-life) of the vehicles, infrastructures, and fuels involved in these systems. Energy inputs are quantified as well as greenhouse gas and criteria air pollutant outputs. Inventory results are normalized to effects per vehicle-lifetime, VMT, and PMT. Current results show that total energy and greenhouse gas emissions increase by as much as 1.6X for automobiles, 1.4X for buses, 2.6X for light rail, 2.1X for heavy rail, and 1.3X for air over operation. Criteria air pollutant emissions increase up to 30X for automobiles, 7X for buses, 10X for light rail, 29X for heavy rail, and 9X for air. This working paper is superceded by UCB-ITS-DS-2008-1, the Ph.D. dissertation of Mikhail Vin Chester.

Suggested Citation

  • Chester, Mikhail & Horvath, Arpad, 2008. "Environmental Life-cycle Assessment of Passenger Transportation: A Detailed Methodology for Energy, Greenhouse Gas and Criteria Pollutant Inventories of Automobiles, Buses, Light Rail, Heavy Rail and ," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt5670921q, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:itsrrp:qt5670921q

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Small, K.A. & Kazimi, C., 1994. "On the Costs of Air Pollution from Motor Vehicules," Papers 94-95-3, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
    2. Verhoef, Erik, 1994. "External effects and social costs of road transport," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 273-287, July.
    3. Schipper, Youdi, 2004. "Environmental costs in European aviation," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 141-154, April.
    4. Fels, Margaret Fulton, 1978. "Breakdown of rapid rail energy costs: A study of three systems," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 507-522.
    5. David Levinson & David Gillen, 1997. "The Full Cost of Intercity Highway Transportation," Working Papers 199704, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ganson, Chris, 2008. "The Transportation Greenhouse Gas Inventory: A First Step Toward City-Driven Emissions Rationalization," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt8255z4qb, University of California Transportation Center.
    2. Morten Simonsen & Hans Jakob Walnum, 2011. "Energy Chain Analysis of Passenger Car Transport," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(2), pages 1-28, February.

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