Finding smarter ways of getting from A to B

Alptransit
© BAFU (Fotograf: Theodor Stalder).

Mobility for all is one of the great achievements of our time. The spatial separation of work and home, leisure experiences in different localities, holidays at home and abroad, and even major world tours – for many people these are all part of everyday life. Individually-tailored travel is a major factor behind Swiss people’s prosperity. If the impact of this mobility on the environment and climate is to be reduced, it must be organised in a smarter way.

The oldest form of mobility is still the most environmentally friendly. People who walk do not consume any resources and improve their health. Switzerland is a small-scale country and many destinations – be it the workplace, school, supermarket or leisure attraction – can be reached on foot. And if you need to go a bit further, you can hop on your bike. In many places, bicycle paths make it easy to get around using human-powered mobility.

If you have longer distances to travel, you can avail of a high-density public transport network. Every city and every major commune provides buses and trams in almost all neighbourhoods. These networks have been steadily developed in recent years and the connections between existing services have been improved. This makes it easy to avoid using your car.

Despite more fuel-efficient cars, when it comes to conserving resources, public transport is still better than private motorised transport. And it is often more convenient: it is often faster to travel by train between the major cities than by car. And thanks to clock-faced scheduling and coordinated timetables at major railway stations and to the dense network of Postauto buses, smaller and remote communes can also be reached easily and quickly.

If you need a car, you should be aware of its fuel consumption. Car manufacturers have made enormous strides in recent years in response to the political pressure to reduce emissions. The average CO2 emissions  of the vehicle types obtainable in Switzerland fell from 188 grams per kilometre in 2005 to 130 in 2015. Moreover, lower fuel consumption can be combined with a high level of comfort and convenience. And drivers who want to avoid using petrol and diesel entirely can switch to natural gas vehicles, which have even lower CO2 emissions, or electric cars powered by solar electricity. The range of options on offer is constantly expanding.

If you only need a car occasionally, you can avail of car-sharing services. For example, Mobility car sharing Switzerland is one of the world’s pioneers in the area of car-sharing. Thanks to its cooperation with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), Mobility cars are available at many railway stations and thus offer optimal coordination with public transport.

An increasing number of companies also allow employees to work from home. This enables the reduction of work-related mobility. It also enables people to work in a more focused way thanks to the elimination of workplace distractions and disruptions, and also improves the work-life balance. What’s more: why do we always have to drive to work at rush hour? People who can travel to work earlier or later also help to make better use of the shared resource of space – be it on the train or on the road.

People who monitor their mobility can achieve the most. At 40 percent, leisure travel is the biggest item in the Swiss mobility statistics. Based on kilometres travelled, 67 percent of leisure travel is undertaken by car. Accordingly, many motorway sections are prone to traffic jams at weekends. People who chose leisure destinations that are closer to home or take the train get more from their leisure time and protect the environment.

Air travel is the form of mobility that causes the greatest impact on the environment. Nevertheless, more and more Swiss people are taking to the skies. The vast majority of flights from Swiss airports – i.e. 78 percent – are to Europe. Thus, a good proportion of them could also be undertaken using other means of transport, e.g. by train or bus. Unlike with other forms of mobility, there are no environmentally-friendlier forms of flying. Flying should simply be avoided, if possible.

Alternatives to flying exist, even for business travel. Virtual networking is already common among the employees of international companies today. Teleconferencing solutions are also available in many offices as standard. Special video-conferencing rooms enable participants located in different time zones to interact as though they are sitting opposite each other physically. This virtual substitution of business trips also increases employee productivity.

If you cannot avoid flying, you should at least compensate for it. Private providers like Atmosfair.de and myclimate offer products which enable passengers to compensate for the CO2 emissions they have generated. The profits are made available for projects that reduce CO2 emissions in other places.

A smart mix is important when it comes to mobility. The people of Switzerland can chose the form of mobility that causes the least impact on the environment – they can travel on foot, by train or virtually.

Last modification 20.10.2015

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