Comparison of life cycle environmental performance of public road transport modes in metropolitan regions

  • Amar Mohan Shinde
  • Anil Kumar DikshitEmail author
  • Rajesh Kumar Singh
Original Paper


A comparative life cycle energy and environmental inventory has been developed for public road transport modes in metropolitan regions in India. The environmental performance of public bus transport (PBT) and intermediate public transport (IPT) modes, viz. taxi and auto-rickshaw, in Mumbai Metropolitan Region has been assessed and compared at off-peak, average and peak levels of vehicle occupancy. Moreover, the environmental performance of vehicles adhering to Bharat Stage (BS) emission norms has been assessed. The inventory captures both vehicle operation (tail-pipe emissions) and non-operation components (e.g. vehicle manufacturing, vehicle maintenance and fuel production). GaBi 6.5 has been used to assess the environmental impact in terms of global warming, acidification, eutrophication, photochemical ozone creation, abiotic depletion potential and primary energy demand. The functional unit of the study was defined as passenger kilometre travelled in 15 years, the service lifetime of the vehicle. The results show that tail-pipe emissions dominate the life cycle environmental impact of PBT (75% of 17.2 g CO2-eq/PKT), taxi (78% of 85 g CO2-eq/PKT) and auto-rickshaw (78% of 78 g CO2-eq/PKT). However, in case of vehicles adhering to BS-VI stringent emission norms, vehicle non-operation components dominate the life cycle environmental impact of public road transport modes. Therefore, vehicle non-operation components should be considered while addressing the environmental performance of public road transport modes. For all three occupancy levels, PBT is environment-friendly compared to IPT modes. However, the break-even point assessment highlights that the bus services should be operated with at least 11 passengers to make its global warming potential equivalent to IPT modes. In case of shared services of the taxi and auto-rickshaw, this equivalency increases to 23 and 29 passengers, respectively. Eventually, this study provides the benchmark that can lead regional transport planners to more informed and prioritized mitigation measures for improving the environmental footprint of public transportation in metropolitan regions in India.

Graphical abstract


Public bus transport Taxi Auto-rickshaw Life cycle assessment Intermediate public transport 



Abiotic depletion potential


Acidification potential


Battery electric bus


Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport


Bharat Stage emission norms


Compound annual growth rate


Compressed natural gas


Comprehensive Transport Study


Eutrophication potential


Greenhouse gas


Global warming potential




Hydrogen fuel cells-powered buses


Internal combustion engine bus


Intermediate public transport


Life cycle assessment


Life cycle inventory


Life cycle impact assessment


Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai


Mumbai Metropolitan Region


Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority


National Environmental Engineering Research Institute


Ozone depletion potential


Overhead equipment


Public bus transport


Primary energy demand


Passenger kilometre travelled


Preventive maintenance schedule and docking


Photochemical ozone creation potential


Vehicle kilometre travelled



Authors sincerely thank the management and the staff of the BEST public bus transport for providing the data needed for carrying out the present research study. The first author would like to acknowledge the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, for providing financial assistance.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amar Mohan Shinde
    • 1
  • Anil Kumar Dikshit
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rajesh Kumar Singh
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE)Indian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia
  2. 2.thinkstep Sustainability Solutions Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of thinkstep AGMumbaiIndia

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