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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Designing Sustainable Cities: Urban Transport Innovations

With a growing recognition of the climate impacts of diesel based urban transport systems, city leaders face increasing pressure to deliver sustainable transportation systems that can benefit both people and the planet. This thesis analyses urban transport projects that cities can implement as part of wider transitional low-carbon energy strategies. Public transport is a means of reducing climate impacts, with electric buses in particular, providing an attractive option due to their flexibility and low infrastructure requirements. The analysis specifically focuses on the nascent technology of wireless (induction) charging electric buses that alleviate many of the previous range anxieties and battery limitations. Focusing initially on Leeds, UK as a case study, the research applies a full lifecycle cost comparison as part of the analysis, to challenge the notion that electric vehicles are financially uncompetitive. The results demonstrate that due to technological innovations, wireless electric buses present a lower cost proposition for a similar level of benefits, relative to other forms of public transport. Multi-criteria decision analysis in the form of analytical hierarchy procedure is also conducted to capture the non-market impacts of such sustainable transport schemes. Assessment criteria are organised across key themes of energy, emissions, cost, accessibility and journey efficiency. The study goes on to explore the potential of other candidate cities looking to implement similar urban transport innovations to establish the expediency of these strategies. Ultimately, this thesis determines a strategic framework relevant to sustainable electric bus transport methods, an area missing from current literature. It is hoped this framework will then allow cities to share examples of actual sustainability leadership and promote proven solutions and opportunities globally. 


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.