Transportation System Efficiency

Efficient transportation systems enable the movement of people and goods while minimizing time, cost, and energy.

Today, transportation represents 28% of annual energy use in the United States, and on-road vehicles account for more than 82% of all transportation energy use. Energy use may change dramatically as consumer behavior, technological advancements, and the on-demand and ridesharing economy adapt to and influence new mobility services, such as connected and automated vehicles, carsharing, and ride hailing. These transformative changes are redefining the way people choose to travel and have the potential to provide improved mobility options for consumers; however, the impact to transportation energy use is largely uncertain.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficient Mobility Systems (EEMS) program investigates how these transformative technologies and services will affect transportation energy consumption and identifies opportunities to create more efficient, affordable, reliable, accessible, and secure transportation options to enhance mobility options for individuals and businesses.

The mobility energy productivity (MEP) metric is an example of an EEMS initiative that can help decision makers evaluate transportation system efficiency. MEP combines mobility, energy, and affordability components with geospatial analysis, providing both a visual map and numeric metric to help assess the quality of mobility provided to travelers in a given location. The metric can measure current levels of mobility potential at a specific location and then assess how various technological advancements, services (e.g., shared scooters, ride hailing, and automated vehicles), and infrastructure investments (e.g., bike lanes and mixed-use development) may impact the mobility of that location over time.

Through the SMART Mobility Consortium, EEMS also works to understand the energy implications and opportunities of advanced mobility solutions through five pillars of research, including:

  1. Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs): Understanding the energy, technology, and usage implications of connected and autonomous technologies and identifying efficient CAV solutions.
  2. Mobility Decision Science: Identifying the transportation energy impacts of potential travel and lifestyle decisions and understanding the human role in the mobility system.
  3. Multi-Modal Freight: Reducing modality interface barriers for freight movement and understanding the interrelationships between various modes for both long-distance freight transport and last-mile goods delivery.
  4. Urban Science: Evaluating the intersection of transportation networks and the built environment in terms of energy and mobility opportunities.
  5. Advanced Fueling Infrastructure: Understanding the costs, benefits, and requirements for fueling and charging infrastructure to support energy-efficient future mobility systems.

Transportation planners and corporate decision makers can implement strategies to improve fleet and consumer mobility potential by targeting the transportation system in the following ways.

Ridesharing and Carsharing 

Learn how to support rideshare and car share programs to help improve transportation efficiency in your community.

Public Transportation 

Discover ways to encourage and enable your community to increase mobility by using mass transit.

Active Transportation and Micromobility 

Find ways to help people save money and improve their health through active transit, like biking and walking, and micromobility options, such as shared electric scooters and bicycles.

Integrated and Multimodal Transportation 

Explore ways to combine multiple modes of transportation to reduce transportation costs, improve mobility, and improve energy efficiency.

Telework 

Find out how teleworking can help you or your employees reduce congestion and save money.

Intelligent Transportation 

Explore the potential of new technologies like connected and automated vehicles and green routing to improve the energy efficiency and environmental impact of current transportation systems.