Efficient public transport is already heralded as a key component of sustainable 21st century city living, and it’s no coincidence that many of the world’s most public transport-friendly cities – such as Seoul, Zurich, and Singapore – are also some of the most successful at reducing their carbon footprints by getting people out of their cars and onto trains, buses, and trams.
Santiago in Chile has gone one step further. Given the challenges the auto industry are presenting in the form of hybrid and electric cars, global sales of which have grown rapidly in recent years, the city’s principle public transport system, the Metro de Santiago, will from 2018 be powered principally through renewable energy sources. The Metro, which was first opened in 1975, has 103km of tracks and 108 stations, making it the second-longest Metro system in Latin America, after Mexico City’s.
“Passengers who use the Metro will be able to travel in a means of transport that cares for the planet”
The announcement was made by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet after a deal was signed with solar power plant El Pelícano (‘The Pelican’) and the San Juan Wind Farm to provide the Metro with (respectively) 42 per cent and 18 per cent of its annual energy demands. ‘More than two and a half million passengers use the Metro daily,’ declared Bachelet. ‘[They] will not only be able to travel faster and safer; they will also be able to travel in a means of transport that cares for the planet, which reduces our carbon footprint and that makes possible a sustainable future for all.’
The announcement also claimed this would reduce Chile’s carbon emissions by 130,000 tonnes per year, and therefore help the country achieve the INDC it submitted ahead of the Paris Agreement signed at COP21 last year (which was unfortunately ranked ‘inadequate’ by Carbon Action Tracker).