Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Economic aspects of nontechnical measures to reduce traffic emissions

Germany Icon
Complete with results
Project website
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Deployment planning/Financing/Market roll-out
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Over the last two decades, the pollutant emissions from motorised transport have decreased significantly thanks to technical advances in motor vehicles. However, this does not solve the problem of traffic-related pollution. Air pollution causes cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, damages crop quality, reduces the biodiversity of plants, despite growth-enhancing properties and contributes to global warming (UNECE, 2012). The decisive factor for the quality of life and health, however, is not primarily the total emissions of air pollutants but their concentration in urban areas. Another unresolved problem concerning road traffic is its noise emissions. Against this background, the European Union, nation states, cities and communities are promoting measures to further reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and noise from all modes of transport.


The study “Economic aspects of non-technical measures to reduce traffic emissions” looks at non-technical options to reduce the emissions of motorised road traffic. The focus of the study is on the effect of measures to reduce emissions and the associated consequences for the private sector and the economy as a whole.


The current study examines the economic consequences of alternative mobility concepts from two different perspectives:

  • the user-based or private sector perspective, taking into consideration the environmental costs and
  • the macro-economic perspective, which analyses the macro-economic impacts of the measures under examination.

 Five measures to reduce traffic emissions are examined from the viewpoint of both perspectives. The term “measure” describes transport policy objectives which are to be implemented to reduce traffic-related emissions. The measures cover key mobility indicators such as modal split, distances traveled or fuel consumption. They represent ways of reducing the traffic-related emissions of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and noise. In the economic context, every measure is allocated a specific target value, for example, the distances traveled or the share of different modes of transport in all journeys, passenger- or tonne-kilometers (modal split). Depending on the type of measure, these refer to different regional contexts and address different target variables. The impacts on user costs and time budgets, macro-economic indicators and the external effects of traffic are examined for all measures.

  • Measure M1 describes the effects of increasing the right of way for bicycles and pedestrians in city centers at the expense of car users by 10 percentage points. This means an increase in the modal split share of non-motorised transport by 27 %.
  • Measure M2 examines the economic and ecological effects of increasing the share of local public transport in urban passenger services by 10 percentage points. Compared to the present share of 8%, this means the share is more than doubled compared to a reference scenario assuming constant transport mode shares until 2030.
  • Measure M3 examines the effects of shortening the average distances traveled by car. This assumes that transport participants change destinations by substituting those farther away by closer alternatives.
  • Measure M4 investigates the macro-economic consequences and sustainability effects of more efficient car use.
  • Finally, measure M5 investigates the economic and ecological impacts of increasing the railway share in national freight transport by 10 percentage points. From the railways’ perspective, this would correspond to an increase of almost 80 % compared to a reference scenario until 2030.


Other Programme
Funding Source
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)


The following key conclusions for the effectiveness and economic efficiency of the five chosen measures can be derived from the analyses of the private-sector and macroeconomic effects:


1. The environmental impacts differ considerably when comparing the measures.

2. Long-distance transport measures make the biggest contribution to emission reductions.

3. Public passenger transport still holds high efficiency potentials

4. Greenhouse gas emissions make up the biggest part of environmental costs.

5. The benefits of individual measures at macro-economic level cannot be regarded in isolation.

6. User reactions decisively influence the overall results of transport policy measures.


Besides the benefits of active mobility for the environment, car-independent mobility also triggers other effects on the individual and his/her direct environment. These can be characterised as follows:


7. Active mobility promotes better health and reduces the risk of chronic illness.

8. Active mobility is financially attractive

9. More attention has to be paid to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in towns and cities.

10. The speed of more active forms of mobility and of public transport is a critical factor.

11. In view of the social debate about slowing the pace and improving the quality of life, the strong influence of time costs raises the question of whether the traditional focus of transport policies on the factor of saving time and the assessment methods of traditional transport economics should be reconsidered.

12. Economic and ecological costs and benefits of mobility point in the same direction.

13. Investments to promote more active mobility create broad social benefits.


Switching from cars to alternative mobility forms can have dampening effects on the automobile industry. To what extent there are also negative effects on the wider economy or whether these can be balanced by investments in transport infrastructures and their operation are described as follows based on the results of this study:


14. The level of investments differs fundamentally in the measures examined.

15. Remodeling the transport systems does not necessarily have to be a burden on the state budget.

16. Investments and organisational changes in the transport sector are mutually supportive.

17. There is a positive employment development in almost all measures.

18. Macro-economic productivity remains more or less constant.

19. There is a positive development of the gross domestic product.


Finally, the economic feasibility and the acceptance of behavior-changing measures for a more ecological transport system can be summed up as positive.


20. Sensible packages of measures can significantly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of transport policy.


Findings of the study are published in detail by a final report (German only), which is available online via

Furthermore, a summary in english language is available via


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


Contribute! Submit your project

Do you wish to submit a project or a programme? Head over to the Contribute page, login and follow the process!