Executive summary
Transportation is one of the main important connections within the human world. Movement from one place to the next has played a very big role in the development of human settlement as well as the growth in technology. However, this technological concept is also developing with major adjustments being put in place for the different modes of transport: road, rail, air, and water among others. Regardless of all the aforementioned, this report tries to look into detail about the developments in the railway transport with one of the major concerns the effect of light rail transport on the usage of vehicles and the effect on the environment.
The second and final research is the influence of light rail transport on the lifestyles and the effects on the physical activities of the people using light rail transport. There has been an increase in the number of people who have continually adopted light rail transport for their travel purposes and this has had an effect on their general lifestyles. Light rail transport is one of the means through which the monotony of personal vehicle transport may be overcome and it plays a major role in changing the daily routine of individuals.
In this research, there is more likely to be positives associated with light rail transport than some of the other means of transport. To begin with, light rail means of transport is likely to lead to a decrease in the fuel consumption by decreasing road transport considering its cheap nature. Secondly, light rail is a mean through which the effects of road transport on the environment may be decreased. A decrease in the number of vehicles using the road means that there is a decrease in the emission of greenhouse gases and consequently a decrease in global warming. Finally, the other expectation is that the usage of light rail transport provides a platform from where the users can work out, albeit unknowingly. All these are some of the research questions that will be answered throughout the research.
Furthermore, in providing a platform from where other research may be based, this report will provide a major stepping stone on the emphasis of light rail transport as the most environmentally friendly and sound technology for use. It may be used alongside other reports in trying to ensure that the sizing, as well as the energy consumption of typical light rail transportation systems, are properly implemented.
Introduction
The road might be the common and most popular means of transportation but it has one of the most devastating effects on the environment (Buehler, 2011). Other means of transport such as air and sea also have effects on the environment but they are not so popular. Popularity is key in the usage of road transport because of the day to day activities. On the other hand, rail transport is also popular and with major modifications, some people have adopted rail transportation.
Steam engines may have been used in the development of rail transportation system but technological advancements have led to a change in the fuel used. Currently, the electrically powered light rail vehicles may be the commonly used form in metropolitan areas (Buehler & Pucher , 2011). The use of electricity is a major breakthrough that reduces the usage of fossil fuels for transportation and more so, reduces their effects on the environment. The electricity that is used is renewable. Increasing the number of people that can be transported at a single instant and reducing the amount of fuel that is used therefore ensures that light rail transport plays a role in sustainable development and growth.
With growing populations and the decrease in the amount of space, it is a means that presents a more sustainable approach to transport and movement (Elizabeth, et al., 2013). Moreover, light rail transport plays one of the starring roles in the fitness of the people around the world. The usage of road transport as the primary means of movement has led to a decrease in the physical activities that human engages and as such has led to various health complications associated with lack of exercise (lee & Moudo, 2004).
All these are some of the factors that have been taken into consideration in the development t of this report. The report provides the necessary statistics and research advocating for the use of light rail transport, However, it is a research that has been developed into various sections. The sections that follow are literature on the use of light rail transport, the objectives and aims of the research, an experimental set up to investigate these claims, the study results, and the conclusions.
Literature Review
This part of the report will focus on three things and these are; the development of the light rail transportation system, the increase in usage of light rail transportation system and the overall effect on the environment as well as health on the individual.
To begin with, it is very important to understand the developments that have occurred in the rail transport in the past. These technological developments have been influenced by the speed of development as well as the increase in population. However, light rail transportation is one of the major classes of rail transport that have been developed over the recent past. Rail transport represents a wide mode of transportation systems with some operating in a manual manner while others operating in a fully controlled environment.
Light rail transport is one of the most accepted modes of rail transport in the metropolitan city since the Second World War (Shiftan & Suhrbier, 2002). Its efficiency, as well as the power consumption coupled with the ability to transport moderate volumes of customers, ensures that it plays a big role in the development of cities. Regardless, the mode is very common for the main lines in cities that are medium in size.
Developments in the sector have led to an increase in the travel speeds as well as the capacity. These light rails can move at a speed of about 31m/hr. while the capacity can be as high as 18000 people per hour (Durand & Garien, 2016). All this coupled with the reliability as well as the efficiency makes it one of the most reliable means of transport in Europe and all over the world.
There are tons of evidence that advocate for the use of light rail transport as compared to other modes. Light rail has a lower operating cost mainly because of the labor requirements. The labor employed in light rail transport is small compared to that of buses. Therefore, the service quality is better for light rail as compared to the former. Secondly, the investments costs associated with light rail are small as compared to some other modes of transport (Cervero & Ewing, 2010). Though this has a huge part in the rail capacity being lower, it ensures that there is effective management. Therefore, light rail is the optimal solution to transportation which meets the criteria of quality of service as well as the speed and economics (Gibbons & Machins, 2005).
The second consideration is the overall effect of light rail transport on the environment. An increase in the adoption of light rail transport for the movement of personnel reduces the usage of road transportation which means that there is a reduction in the use of fuels (Handy, 2005). A reduction in the usage of fuels means that there is a reduction in road emissions.
Studies have indicated that the road is the largest consumer of fuel which translates to the largest producer of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Studies conducted in the United Kingdom have indicated that public road transport consumes about 76% of all transport fuels,18% consumed by air travel while 2% consumed by both the rail and water transport systems (Frank, 2000). It is from these statistics that we understand the implications of road transport on the environment. By using the largest proportion of transport fuels, the road has had the most devastating effect, as compared to other transport means, on the environment. On the other hand, rail transport is among the smallest consumers of fuel increasing the emphasis on light rail transportation.
The two common energy sources for road and rail transport is diesel fuel as well as electricity (Griswold, et al., 2013). These two form the backbone of the energy provider to all the sectors of transport. However, diesel fuel has been used mainly in trains as well as buses while electricity is used in many urban trains (Xu, et al., 2015). Regarding the use of diesel fuel, improvements have been made to reduce the effect on the environment.
Emissions that are produced from the diesel consuming machinery are carbon monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, hydrocarbons and particulate matter (Woodcock, et al., 2009). The highest percentage of carbon monoxide is produced by cars and the road sector. Cars are responsible for producing about 90% of all carbon monoxide emissions (Puchalsky, 2005). Secondly, diesel machinery produces about 50% of all the nitrogen oxide emissions increase the risk of respiratory problems as well as acid rain formation (Shapiro, et al., 2002). Hydrocarbon production is mainly associated with carcinogens which have effects on the general health condition of individuals (Jerram & Vincent, 2006). Finally, particulate matter is mainly produced by a diesel engine and this has some carcinogenic effect on the overall human population.
As indicated by the emissions, the use of diesel engines has one of the most devastating effects on the human health as well as on the environment. On the other hand, light rail does not produce any significant emission but the power stations may produce emissions (Goel & Guttikunda, 2011). There are various power sources that can produce electricity for light rail transport and some of these power sources include nuclear power stations, geothermal power production, fuel power stations, and hydroelectric power stations among others. The rate of emission production varies from one method to another but it is significantly lower as compared to the use of diesel engines.
One of the studies conducted to determine the quantity of emission from transport led to the following findings
 
 

Means of transport Nitrogen oxides Sulfides Carbon monoxides hydrocarbon
The bus 0.8 0.1 1.0 0.1
Rails using diesel 1.0 0.2 0.1 0.1
Rails using electricity 0.4 1.1 0.1 0.002
Tram 0.2 0.01
Cars 2.1 11.0

 
(Messa, 2006)
It is clear from the above table that electric trains, light rails included, produce the least amounts of pollutants. However, carbon dioxide gas has the most severe effects on the environment. The gas is produced in different proportions by the various engines. The production of carbon dioxide is about 2.7kilograms per liter from diesel engines while petrol produces about 2.4 kilograms for every liter (Ogasa, 2008).
The following table provides a smokescreen through which we can easily visualize the damaging effect and the extent that the fuels used can have on the environment and climate change.
(Litman, 2007)
According to the table, light rail transport is among the transport means that have the least amounts of carbon emission considering the number of passengers as well as the mileage.
The third aspect to be considered in this report is the effect of light rail transport on the general welfare of the community and particularly the users. However, the main consideration is the effect on light rail transport on the physical activity as well as the well-being of the individual. Physical activity is mainly brought about by the extra movement to the boarding centers, the booking centers and departing from the train station (Brown, et al., 2015). Incorporating this small routine to the list of activities that one engages in increases involvement in physical activities.
According to some research, a 30-minute workout routine has a number of advantages regarding the health of the individual. Engaging in a 30-minute routine is likely to decrease the risk of having heart-related diseases and is also important in maintaining a healthy body weight (Durand,, et al., 2011). Furthermore, there is a stronger emphasis to get involved in physical activities in order to reduce obesity. In America alone, only 4% of the total population is engaged in a 30-minute daily workout routine (Frank, et al., 2004) . It, therefore, implies that a proper strategy needs to be developed to increase the number of people engaged in physical activities.
Considering that infrastructure and population increase are dependent, there is need to incorporate physical activities into the daily routine of the population. Mass transportation is one of the proposals that many have argued will improve the lifestyle of most people. As a matter of fact, this is the exact opposite of the previous proposals around the world which advocated for private transport rather than the public means.
The light rail transport system is more convenient since it has designated stations from where the commuters can board and more to this, the train’s movement are mapped out and managed through traffic signals. These trains are more convenient than the other types of trains because of the greater flexibility in densely populated areas.
The characteristics of the light rail transport play a major role in engaging the commuter in physical activity. To begin with, the stops are at a considerable distance apart. Increase in this distance influences the commuter to ride more or walk more when he/she wants to board. Secondly, the light rail transport increases the connectedness of a particular city and this has the effect of encouraging low-income earners to travel which means an increase in the physical activity (MacDonald, et al., 2010). Finally, the light rail transport system increases decentralization which in turn increases the chances of car owners to adopt traveling using rail transport.
Research Objective
The research is focused on two hypothesis. The two hypotheses are centered on the implications that the use of light rail transport increases engagement in physical activity, and, embracing light rail transport will likely reduce emissions.
One of the major objectives is to determine the extent to which light rail transport increases the physical activity engagement levels. Secondly, the research is focused on a comparison with other means of public transport on the emission and effect of the environment. These two form the basis of the research.
Therefore, the research is aimed at answering the following questions:

  • Does light rail transport provide a sustainable alternative to diesel public means transport as well as private vehicles?
  • Does light rail transport increase the physical well-being of an individual?

Theoretical content
There are two common types of energy sources that are used to power the different means of transport: fossil fuels as well as electricity (Goel & Guttikunda, 2011). Fossil fuels are among the major air pollutants and produce very high levels of carbon dioxide. On the other hand, electricity has little or no emission. Therefore, an increase in the use of light rail transportation system is likely to reduce the usage of private vehicles which will consequently mean a reduction in the emissions.
Secondly, there is a reduction in the number of people who are engaged in physical activities. Increase in the number of vehicles reduces the number of people that work out and this increases the health complications. Increase in the usage of light rail transport increases the number of people that would be involved in running, walking as well as cycling to the board and even return home.
Experimental setup
There are two setups that are involved in this research. The first being about the emissions while the second is focused on the physical activities. Therefore, there will be two approaches that will be used in answering the two research questions formulated.
The first set up was used to determine the effect of light rail travel on the physical well-being of an individual. The study was modeled on the social-ecological behavioral model. The model defines the interaction between the train and the physical activity of an individual. However, this is on a smaller scope because the main consideration is the platform under which the changes may occur.
The location for the study was a region that was served by a railway line but with a mixed cultural background. Furthermore, there was a proper wealth gap within this population to serve as a smokescreen to the viability of light rail transport to different wealth classes. Regardless the radius should be sufficient enough to indicate the length that people would cover to reach the boarding point.
Sample selection considered the age of the person as well as the physical appearance. The lower limit of the age was 18 years old but the physical nature was not relevant. People of all physiques were required to take part in the study.
Finally, the data were mainly obtained from the journals, diaries as well as reports on individual activities. The use of an accelerometer also provided supplementary data. The accelerometer had its own logbook whereby the individual was supposed to record the time when it was fastened to the body when it was taken off and the actual duration of movement to and from the light rail station.
Considering that it is very difficult to measure the rate of pollution and global warming, the effects of light rail transport on global warming was mainly obtained from literature and research. There is literature that describes the adoption of light rail transport and it is this data that was used to draw the necessary conclusions.
Gantt chart
The Gantt chart below indicates the duration of each task. Furthermore, the screenshot indicates the sequence of activities as well as the duration. As indicated in the screenshot, the 5th of June is the date whereby field visit and excursions have been scheduled.
The research has a timeline of 21 weeks but the timeline specifies that each week there will be a review of the tasks undertaken. The review provides a platform from where the weekly mistakes can be analyzed and proper remedies put in place.
However, the project will be identified as per the milestone. According to the screenshot below, the first three activities mark the first milestone which is project preparation. The following three tasks mark the second milestone which is data collection while the following two activities mark the data processing milestone. Finally, documentation marks the final project milestone.
List of activities and the Gantt chart
Results and findings
Considering the first research question which is centered on physical activity, there was a change in the physical wellness and nature of individuals who regularly use the light rail transportation system. The research has indicated that light rail users have an additional 6 minutes for walking as compared to those who use other means of public transport. The time spent in walking reduces the chances of being obese by about 80%. As with the people who own vehicles, an increase in walking time and usage of light rail transport reduces the stress levels that are associated with driving.
Considering the air quality and the usage of light rail transportation system, there is a decrease in the emission of carbon dioxide by about 99%. As per with hydrocarbons, there is a reduction of 9 pounds per person per year when a light rail transportation system is used. Furthermore, there is a 5 pounds reduction per person per year in the production of nitrogen oxide while carbon monoxide is reduced at a rate of 62 pounds per person per year.
Conclusion
Use of the light rail transportation system reduces the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. As stated in the analysis, a continued use of light rail transport system reduces the emissions by other public means of transport. A reduction in the emissions means that the rate of ozone depletion is lowered and this reduces global warming. Light rail transportation tends to have almost negligible emission rates.
Secondly, an increase in the use of light rail transportation system increases the physical wellness of individuals. Physical activity is mainly because of the movement to and from the stations and this tends to decrease some of the most common physical illnesses such as obesity and blood pressure.

References

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