HSL promotes sustainable development
Climate change has increased people’s awareness of the environment and their desire to improve the state of the environment. Companies and different actors of society have embraced eco-friendliness as one of their core values. HSL promotes sustainable development by making public transport as attractive an alternative to car use as possible.
One fifth of carbon emissions are from transport
From the point of view of climate change, carbon emissions are the most harmful emissions. Approximately one fifth of carbon emissions are from transport. In the Helsinki metropolitan area, public transport accounts for around 10% of the total transport emissions. Cars produce about 60% of all carbon emissions, and the remaining 30% are from freight transport. In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, in urban environments attention must be paid also to local emissions from transport, such as nitrogen oxides, particles and carbon monoxide. In densely populated areas local emissions affect people’s health and quality of life.
More rail transport, less emissions
HSL reduces public transport emissions by increasing electrically operated transport and gas buses, as well as by fleet development. Especially increasing the share of rail transport helps to control emissions. The public transport system in Helsinki and the metropolitan area is based on heavy rail.
With regard to bus services, the aim is to decrease harmful local emissions and greenhouse gas emissions as well as noise. In the tendering of bus services HSL favors low-emission vehicles.
The share of gas buses on Helsinki region bus services is about 10%. For some time it has not been possible to increase the number of gas buses the most important reason being that buses operated with natural gas cannot enter the Kamppi terminal. Also the fact that natural gas buses are more expensive and need more maintenance than diesel buses has slowed down the introduction of gas buses.
The carbon emissions of natural gas buses are nearly as high as those of diesel buses, whereas the amount of local emissions, especially particles, is significantly lower. Carbon emissions can be reduced by using biogas. According to estimates, the carbon emissions of natural gas buses can be reduced to under one third of the current figures with the help of biogas.
Hybrid buses trialed
HKL (Helsinki City Transport) launched a trial of hybrid buses in spring 2009. HSL continues the trial with different manufacturers. The breaking energy of the hybrid bus is converted into electrical energy, which powers the bus when it accelerates again. Hybrid buses are better than regular buses in terms of emissions, noise levels and energy consumption.
New generation trolleybuses considered
HSL conducted a preliminary study on the feasibility of a trolleybus system in 2008-2009. HSL continues to study the possibilities of a trolleybus system with HKL, Helsinki City Planning Department and the cities of Turku and Tampere. Trolleybuses consume less energy and have lower local emissions and noise level than buses. In comparison to trams, trolleybuses are less vulnerable to disruptions, their noise levels are lower and their initial and operating costs are smaller.
The disadvantaged of a trolleybus system include the overhead wire network required. Modern trolleybuses can, however, run several kilometers without overhead wires. In addition, travelling by trolleybuses is not as smooth as travelling by tram. Trolleybuses can also carry fewer passengers than trams.