Impact of Transit on Human HealthIntroductionTransportation plays a vital rolein promoting economic growth and development of any city. Due to increase inpopulation, because of both natural causes and migration from smaller cities tourban cities, the transportation demand rises significantly. Availability of motorizedvehicles increases household income, increase in commercial as well asindustrial activities, which further adds to transport demand.
Public transportis critical urban infrastructure providing affordable energy efficient andconvenient transportation to city dwellers (Gershon et al., 2013). But transportation is one ofthe major causes of air pollution. Vehicles emit particulate matter and othergases which deteriorates air quality which can cause respiratory problems indensely populated areas. Also, owning a private vehicle results in physicalinactivity in some cases, resulting obesity which is associated with manydiseases. Thus, transit has direct influence on human health. Several studieshad been carried out in past to correlate between transit and public wellbeing.
Transit effect on Air QualityAir pollution is major concern inmany urban cities. There are many sources to air pollution may industrial,commercial and residential. In Toronto, transportation alone is responsible for35% emission of pollutants (Topalovic et al., 2012).
These particles areresponsible for various diseases like Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI), asthma,cardiac illness and cancer. Areas with dense population, more trip generationrate are more vulnerable to air pollution related health conditions. According to Ling et al., (2010) moregreen areas and forest can help in increasing ambient air quality.
Based onfindings of his study, Transit Oriented Development approach in urban areas andencouraging the use of public transport can help reducing the pollutantsemission and green house gases. Use of transit bring about decline in trafficcongestion and facilitates lower emission rates.Light rail transits (LRT) are thebest solution to reduce traffic congestion and reduce air pollutants as itscapacity to accommodate an extensive number of travelers, and increasedaccessibility. Local transit can reduce the total vehicle use by 2-12% where asLRT (as it is energy efficient and reduce dependence on oil) may be able toreduce the total vehicle use by 18-58% (Topalovic et al., 2012).Reduction in Obesity Due to unsustainable land use (sprawlingdevelopment and less of transit-oriented development) such as improper land usebetween commercial and residential places results in higher trip generationthat are mostly carried out on private vehicles (Ling et al.
, 2010). Humantrips carried out on personal vehicles promotes physical inactivity andsedimentary lifestyle, which are associated with obesity, cardiovasculardisease and diabetes (Rojas et al., 2013). Researches have shown that usingtransit can help reduce weight. As a person who use transit walks an average of30 minutes more than person who uses private mode of transportation encouraginghealthier lifestyle and can save the money spend on health care services.
(Topalovicet al., 2012).Rojas et al., (2013) mentioned thatshifting to public transit from car use has health benefits.
And these benefitsare there because of increase in physical activity and reduction in exposure levelof pollutants.Negative ImpactsPeople who use public transit totravel long distances on a regular basis or people using old transit systemsare exposed to noises that are more than allowable community limits. Studieshave shown that excessive exposure to noise can cause negative hearing impact,poor sleep quality, hyper tension, communication disorder and hearing loss. Theuse of hearing protection devices like earbuds or earmuffs are advisable bycommuters, who are looking for frequent and lengthy commuting (Gershon et al., 2013).ConclusionIndividuals who live in areas withhigh quality public transit have the ability to reduce vehicle trip, drive lesscontributing indirectly to lower particulate matter and green house gasesemission. Thus, enhancing quality life with good physical and mental health.
Public transport offers significant health benefits and these benefits shouldbe considered before transportation planning. ReferencesGershon, R. R., Sherman, M. F., Magda, L.
A., Riley, H. E.,McAlexander, T.
P., & Neitzel, R. (2013) Mass transit ridership andself-reported hearing health in an urban population.
Journal of UrbanHealth, Vol. 90, Issue 2, pp. 262-275.
Ling, H. L. O., Ting, K. H.
, Dasimah, O., Jamalunlaili, A.,& Fong, T. S. (2010) Transit oriented neighbourhood for betterenvironmental health.
2010 International Conference on Science and SocialResearch (CSSR 2010), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2010, pp. 516-521.Rojas, R. D., De Nazelle, A., Teixidó, O., & Nieuwenhuijsen,M.
J. (2013) Health impact assessment of increasing public transport andcycling use in Barcelona: a morbidity and burden of disease approach. Preventivemedicine, Vol.
57,Issue5, pp. 573-579.Topalovic, P., Carter, J., Topalovic, M., & Krantzberg,G.
(2012) Light rail transit in Hamilton: Health, environmental and economicimpact analysis. Social Indicators Research, Vol. 108, Issue2, pp. 329-350.