Transportation System Efficiency

Efficient transportation systems achieve transportation goals (such as enabling people to get to work or goods to be delivered) while reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

Reducing VMT reduces overall transportation costs, while making the nation’s fleet more resilient and less susceptible to fuel price volatility. VMT reduction strategies—or transportation demand management—can also reduce traffic congestion, enable the use of more efficient vehicles, decrease vehicle emissions, reduce vehicle wear and tear, and save time for drivers.

Today, transportation represents 29% of annual energy use in the United States, and on-road vehicles account for more than 80% of all transportation energy use. Energy use may change dramatically as consumer behavior and the on-demand economy adapt to and influence new mobility services and transportation technologies. These disruptive changes have the potential to provide improved mobility options for consumers, but the impact to transportation energy use is largely uncertain.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficient Mobility Systems program is investigating opportunities to quantify the quality of mobility provided to each traveler at a given location, regardless of whether that traveler possesses their own mode of personal transportation or uses a bus, train, transportation network company (e.g., Uber, Lyft), bike-share, or car-share. Specifically, the mobility energy productivity (MEP) score will quantify energy consumption by fuel type and total trip cost, including factors like transit fares, fuel prices, operational costs, and the frequency with which people engage in certain activities. In addition, the MEP score considers the total number of opportunities accessible from a given location within a certain time frame.

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


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

Mass Transit 

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

Active Transit 

Find ways to help people save money and improve their health through active transit like biking and walking.

Multimodal Transportation 

Explore ways to combine multiple modes of transportation to increase mobility and reduce VMT.


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.