The greenest forms of public transportation make use of carbon-free electricity, or vastly reduce emissions per person by packing in the commuters ... photo by CC user hurtubia on flickr

With the consequences of climate change being apparent 15 years into the 21st century, many have made it a priority to reduce their personal carbon footprint. One of the biggest ways to do this is to clean up your commute by swapping out your car for something that uses less/no fossil fuels.

While we all know bikes are the best option, they often aren’t realistic when the weather takes a turn for the worst. On these days, options like trains and buses are the best way forward, and while using your local transport system will work well enough, you might still be wondering: what are the greenest forms of public transportation in the world?

The cities below lay claim to the best designed systems on planet Earth…

photo by CC user Caleb Bond on wikimedia

1) Adelaide, Australia – Solar buses: who needs gas stations when you’ve got the sun?

Buses: ask anyone on the street about their impression of them in relation to the environment, and mentions of them belching clouds of diesel smoke come to mind. While their ability to take cars off the road make even older buses in urban fleets an environmental net positive, efforts to make this essential node in the public transit network as clean as possible has long been an ambition of environmental advocates and civic officials.

The leading edge of this fight can be found in Adelaide, Australia, which is home to the world’s first solar buses. These prototypes are presently being tested for the efficacy in real world situations, but so far, this fully electric fleet has been proven to be a success, as they charge as the central bus garage before hitting the streets, having all the energy they need to conduct their business without the hint of a problem. Another major way to keep vehicles eco-friendly and green is to keep up with regular maintenance like at places like Another way is to make sure quality tires are used and well-maintained like can be found at Tyre-Shopper.

photo by CC user Tim Adams on wikimedia

2) Vancouver, Canada – Skytrain: powered by clean hydroelectricity

While many light rail networks throughout the world have been lauded as a green alternative to cars and buses, their actual contribution to the reduction in greenhouse gases are greatly affected from how the juice that powers them is generated.

In British Columbia, the vast majority of power created comes from its abundant sources of hydroelectricity, making the decision to forgo car use an easy one for environmentally conscious individuals in Canada’s most modern city.

With a network that reaches throughout many of its suburbs as well, use of the Skytrain has increased dramatically with every extension that has been completed, making it a force for CO2 emission reduction in this corner of the nation.

photo by CC user 30998987@N03 on Flickr

3) Curitiba, Brazil: Rapid-transit buses + good urban planning = cleanest air in the country

Much of the world may draw a blank when the city of Curitiba, Brazil is mentioned in casual conversation … unless of course, your friends happen to be infrastructure/civil planning nerds. In the context of green transport, this small Brazilian city stands out as an example to the rest of the world on how to build an effective bus rapid transit (BRT) system, as it has succeeded in getting an 80% usage rate from its population of two million people.

By establishing dedicated lanes that only BRT buses can use, encouraging employers to subsidize their employee’s transport passes, and only permitting high density development along BRT corridors, Curitiba keeps massive amounts of cars off the road that would otherwise foul the air. As such, it often has the best urban air quality in the nation, making this livable city an even more pleasant place to raise a family.