Transportation System Efficiency

Reliable, affordable, and safe transportation connects everyone to the things they need: jobs, goods, healthcare, education, and recreation. 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. However, many factors are reshaping our transportation systems, including a growing population, the rise of new technologies, new employment and business models, the on-demand economy, and a changing climate. Making these shifts equitably and sustainably requires thorough investigation of all the interconnected pieces of our transportation system and assessment of how those pieces can be optimized for energy efficiency and other priorities.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficient Mobility Systems (EEMS) Program in the Vehicle Technologies Office develops innovative tools and capabilities that will affect energy mobility productivity. EEMS also generates findings and provides tools that guide Clean Cities coalitions and their local transportation planners, policy makers, fleet managers, and consumers on how to move people and goods more affordably, efficiently, and equitably. In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our transportation system including increased remote work and overall decreased transit ridership. Research undertaken by Argonne National Laboratory with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) showed that those impacts are likely to remain persistent, increasing congestion, energy consumption, and emissions beyond the pandemic. EEMS models, insights, and tools can help communities develop strategies to tackle these types of challenges and create transportation system efficiencies while increasing access and mobility for residents.

The following sections describe some of the mobility options and factors that affect the movement of people and goods within our transportation system, the energy implications of these options, the interactions of different transportation modes, and the effect of individual travel decisions on mobility systems.

Ridesharing and Carsharing 

Learn how ridesharing and carsharing can impact transportation efficiency in your community.

Public Transportation 

Discover how public transportation can increase mobility.

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.

Freight and Last-Mile Delivery 

Explore how the freight movement landscape has evolved in recent years due to the introduction of new trends in e-commerce, electrification, and the gig economy and on-demand workforce.

Integrating Travel Across Modes 

Explore how multiple modes of transportation can be combined to reduce transportation costs and improve mobility and energy efficiency for the movement of people and goods.

Workforce Mobility 

Learn how commuter benefits packages, telework, and employer-coordinated rideshare can help employees reduce their transportation impacts.

Intelligent Transportation System Technologies 

Understand how connected and automated vehicles, automated mobility districts, on demand transportation, green routing, and traffic signal control can improve energy efficiency and environmental impact of current transportation systems.