SECTION 1 Questions 1-13
Read the text and answer Questions 1-13
A Society has tended to be shaped by its modes of transport, from the horse and cart to the car and the plane. Now, though, our world and its transport systems are being shaped by the threat from climate change. In the UK, transport alone accounts for around a quarter of greenhouse-gas emissions, so the big question is how we can make it green.
B This challenge has become more pressing since the government released its white paper on energy and climate change in July. With slashing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 now an official target, the spotlight of transport research has shifted from miles per hour on to miles per gallon, says Roger Kemp, professor of engineering at Lancaster University. This shift has been helped by the white paper's emphais on green transport, and boosted by its prediction that an estimated 1.2 million extra green energy jobs will be created by 2020. "Green energy for transportation is a huge marketplace," says Barry Potier from Resourcing Solutions, a recruitment consultancy based in Ruscombe, Berkshire, that specialises in renewable energy.
C To sustain this marketplace, the UK will need a strong base in terms of expertise. Combine this with the fact that there is a real shortfall in people with the technical skills required, says Potier, and those who have the qualifications can have their pick of the jobs. "Energy should be the career of choice for all scientists, technicians and engineers at the moment - it's a no-brainer," adds Kemp.
D So where should you begin? In such a broad industry the options can be overwhelming, so focus on getting a grounding in an applied science or engineering, advises Tristan Smith, a mechanical engineering research assistant at University College London. "Employers are looking for excellent knowledge of first principles, rather than someone who can just 'talk the talk' ". It doesn't necessarily pay to start with the greenest companies either. Large engineering firms, such as Rolls-Royce or BAE Systems, might not be the poster boys of sustainable development at the moment, says Smith, but they do have the funding and graduate training schemes to give you the best start.
E All transport methods will be affected by the government's target, with the Royal Society saying that "radical" changes in how we travel and the way we fuel our vehicles will be needed. So which area should you specialise in? Road transport is ahead of the game, having received some of the biggest investments for green projects. Steven Chu, the US Secretary of Energy, has stated his belief in the "inevitable transition to electricity as the energy for our personal transportation". Even Google is investing in green cars, bankrolling the futuristic Aptera - which not only looks good, but runs off electricity too.
F Yet despite this support there is still a long way to go. "Your electric car is only as green as your electricity supply," says Jeff Hardy, from the UK Energy Research Centre in London. One of the biggest challenges will be to make sure the electricity we use to charge our cars is low-carbon. What's more, we will need a whole new infrastructure to charge them - think exchanging your battery when you stop at a service station rather than filling the tank. This infrastructure just doesn't exist yet. Then there is all the energy needed to run the new system: "Switching 23 million cars to electric, that requires quite a large extra chunk of electricity that we don't currently produce," says Hardy. According to Smith, these challenges are no bad thing. "If we are going to meet any of our C02 reduction targets, there's so much for engineers to get stuck into. For anyone who enjoys a challenge, this is the most exciting time since the industrial revolution."
G While electricity for cars is seen as a winning investment, biofuels are more contentious. A recent study by the European Commission predicts that, of all the renewables, biofuels will offer the most career opportunities in the future. Yet confidence in this energy source is far from universal, as producing biofuel would involve encroaching on agricultural land. Even if you could power all cars with it, no one would be able to eat, argues Kemp. Despite these doubts, there is cash available for research. This year the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council invested £27 million in biofuels by launching the Sustainable Bioenergy Centre, a partnership between academia and industry. There is still hope for biofuels, says Hardy, because there is a lot of interest in what comes next - second and third-generation technologies which move us away from crops as a fuel source and towards using agricultural waste, for instance.
H Using fuel cells to power vehicles is another exciting and hotly debated prospect. "A fuel cell gives us the highest efficiency device for producing electricity that we know of. It produces very low emissions too, so it's efficient and it's clean," says Nigel Brandon, director of the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London. Nevertheless, issues such as refuelling and ensuring the energy comes from renewable sources are proving problematic, as is the fact that fuel cells are still expensive to produce. "We need to work to make those fuel cells cheaper, and to do so we need to develop new materials," says Brandon. All these obstacles stand between fuel-cell cars and the mass market. So is it a career dead end for young scientists? Not according to Brandon. "We absolutely have to address our emissions from the transport sector and there are very few ways we can do it," he says. "For young scientists and engineers in the years ahead there are tremendous opportunities to make a contribution. The challenges are there and fuel cells are part of the solution."
Radical Changes to Public Transport
The fundamentals of public transport, complains Martin Lowson, an academic and entrepreneur, have not changed very much since the era of the stagecoach. Passengers wait at an arranged point for a large vehicle to arrive. It then carries them, along with a crowd of strangers, along a fixed route. The meandering course and frequent stops make the trip far slower than it would be in a private vehicle and the odd-looking person sitting opposite makes it less pleasant.
Dr Lowson's firm, Advanced Transport Systems, however, thinks it knows how to overcome all this-and give public transport its biggest overhaul in three centuries-using a concept known as personal rapid transit, or PRT.
PRT still involves stations, but they would be smaller and more closely spaced than in traditional transit systems. Instead of big trains or buses, passengers would board small, driverless pods, for one to four people, which would travel along narrow tracks or elevated rails. The stations would not lie on the main line, but on bypasses, allowing pods to proceed directly to their final destination without any stops. It is the stuff of science-fiction films: carefree passengers whizzing effortlessly around in gleaming, automated capsules, without any fear of traffic jams, pickpockets or breakdowns.
In theory, such a system could carry as many people as a more conventional light-rail network or bus service, at lower cost. Since the pods would be much smaller and lighter than trains, they could run on flimsier rails, which would be cheaper to construct. Since they are automated, they could travel much closer together than manually driven vehicles and so get lots of people moving quickly. And since the pods operate only on demand, no money would be wasted on under-used or redundant services.
Since the 1950s, visionaries, or dreamers, depending on your point of view, have been touting PRT as the most efficient way to move people around smallish cities and big public spaces such as airports and fairgrounds. In 1972 Richard Nixon insisted that if American ingenuity could transport three men 200,000 miles to the moon, it could also find a better way to transport 200,000 men three miles to work. The answer, he thought, was PRT. To prove it, he pushed through the construction of a demonstration system at the University of West Virginia. French, German and Japanese firms also built prototypes.
But in the end the model project in West Virginia was the only system to get up and running. The cost of construction, originally estimated at $14m, ballooned to $126m. Rising costs and subsiding political support sank all the other projects. In the 1990s, for example, Raytheon, an American military engineering firm, had to scrap a proposed PRT scheme near Chicago when the projected costs topped $30m per kilometre.
Dr Lowson argues that things are different now, thanks to advances in engineering and computing. Almost all the elements needed for a PRT scheme can be bought off the shelf, he argues, and relatively cheaply too. He estimates costs for Advanced Transport Systems' PRT scheme, called ULTra, at just £3m-5m ($6m-10m) per kilometre. That is comparable, he says, to the cost of building a dedicated bus lane. The operating costs are 40% lower than those of a bus service, since there are no drivers. What is more, ULTra, with its narrow rails and compact pods, takes up much less space than a bus lane or train track does.
BAA, the firm that operates Heathrow and several other British airports, is convinced. It has not only ordered a PRT system to carry passengers between Heathrow's new terminal and the surrounding car parks, but has also bought a 25% stake in Advanced Transport Systems. The project, due to start operating next year, will have five stations and carry 250,000 people a year. If it proves a success, BAA might expand the service throughout the airport, to carry as many as 3m people a year. Meanwhile, various other schemes are gaining momentum. Vectus, a division of POSCO, a Korean steelmaker, is building a test track for its PRT system in Sweden. A Dutch firm called 2getthere operates automated PRT-like buses in a suburb of Rotterdam and at Schiphol airport near Amsterdam, although PRT purists dislike them since they run on ordinary roads rather than dedicated tracks. Half a dozen other firms are marketing variants on the same theme.
There are still plenty of sceptics, however. Some argue that it would be dangerous to run pods close enough together, at high enough speeds, to eke enough capacity out of each line. The expense of buying rights of way in busy towns could push up costs. Other critics contend that the tracks will be eyesores, especially if they are elevated. The local politicians who have the final say on most proposals certainly seem to worry that PRT will not live up to its promise. The European Commission has studied four potential schemes, and concluded that hesitant local authorities are the only significant obstacle. As Dr Lowson puts it, "No one ever got fired for proposing a bus system."
SECTION 3 Question 27-40
Women and Transport
A. Several World Bank and United Nations projects illustrate how women in developing countries carry the dominant share of responsibility for transporting goods and supplies needed for domestic agricultural, or other uses that the family unit is dependent on for survival. This responsibility is often referred to as the transport burden. Women clearly carry the primary transport burden, as seen in places such as Africa. Nonetheless, public transportation tends to cater for a journey to and from work. This single purpose and predominately male focus leaves women with poor transportation options, such as inconvenient schedules or prices they cannot afford. This overall failure for transportation services to cater to women has a negative effect on the community as a whole. It reduces women's productivity and capacity to meet their families' needs, and as a result, everyone suffers-economically, physically and socially.
B. Previously, transportation and infrastructure issues were not gender conscious, and were purely viewed in terms of being development issues. However it is now apparent that the arena of gender is vital in the context of recognizing that transport infrastructure and services such as roads and buses do not impact men and women equally. Several case studies and reports clearly demonstrate this. Women have greater and more diverse transportation needs, hence the impact is higher on women. However, despite this fact, in 1997 only 4% of World Bank transport projects addressed women.
C. One joint study by the University of Ghana and the Transport Research Laboratory illustrated that a woman's transportation needs are generally multipurpose in nature, with trips to service providers (schools, health care facilities, food markets, public administration buildings, etc) in various locations throughout the city. The numerous and diverse tasks performed by women makes transportation a key element to their productivity and well being. Another study conducted on the impact of transportation on women in Africa confirmed the numerous reports that the burden of transport rests mainly on women. Focus groups conducted in Ghana showed that women were entirely responsible for transporting water, firewood, and crops from the harvest, amounting to 54% of women's daily travel and transport activities. The report explained that the focus groups "reinforced the customary image of the man returning from the farm carrying only a cutlass or a bundle of sticks ... the women carrying head loads of foodstuff at the same time as carrying her baby".
D. Gender mobility is slowly emerging as a point of concern in some development projects. Many failed economic and social development ventures have directly pinpointed gender and transportation as an imperative and missing link. For instance, it is estimated that on average women spend 5.8 hours a day in transport, excluding any waiting time, whereas men spend an average of 3.2 hours. Report after report from bi-lateral development agencies, international organizations, and local grassroots communities have called for ways to ease women's transport burdens.
E. One of the primary steps to take towards addressing gender concerns in transportation services and infrastructure is the development of new modes for development analysis. The World Bank and other international organizations have moved in that direction by developing gender tool kits that are sector specific. There is also a strong need to outline various policy initiatives to ensure that women benefit from road construction and maintenance. Amongst some of the services that can be changed to address the needs of women, are better tailored route planning, the improvement of walking and bicycle paths, and increased hours outside the normal morning and afternoon commute.
F. Two of the most common recommendations are as such: firstly, to relocate needed facilities (schools, clinics, water supplies) in order to reduce travel time; and secondly, to introduce intermediate means of transportation (IMT), such as bikes or rickshaws. Bike projects in particular have gained popularity over the last decade, many of these having been initiated by World Bank. One such campaign was the introduction of bicycles and bicycle riding skills as part of a literacy campaign (by the National Literacy Mission) in the early 1990s in Pudukkottai region, Tamil Nadu in India. The campaign was used as an example of women's increased mobility, independence and empowerment through a successful intervention: cycling.
G. A study conducted five years later to assess the impact of the campaign revealed that women were able to greatly reduce their time and labor inputs for several difficult and essential tasks regarding household maintenance. However, when similar projects were replicated in different regions they were not as successful. In Lima, Peru, only 2% of bike riders in Lima are women, due to fear of robbery. Many women who were interviewed said that if safety had not been a factor, they would gladly ride bikes. In other countries, cultural restrictions and development agencies concluded that gender mobility was not a priority. Instead, they focused on home-based activities where female mobility was not required.
H. The fact that transportation is still a problem in a fast paced world where technical advancements seem endless, demonstrates the need for equitable distribution and
strategic planning in implementing development projects. A general awareness for gender integration has developed at an encouraging pace over the past decade. But there is still a long way to go in integrating gender into the sectors.
I. Several overall trends in development, such as the movement towards a more multidisciplinary approach towards implementing projects, serves as the silver lining for the future of gender sensitive transportation planning. One encouraging trend is the use of communities of practice during the project implementation phase. These communities of practice hold workshops about the development projects that are being developed, similar to the commercial sectors' focus groups. During these workshops, local communities are able to identify key issues that need to be addressed. These workshops may be effective tools in integrating women's concerns into the design of transportation programs. Already, many women participate in these workshops. Since the workshops are done on an informal basis, there is no need to fill out forms or put requests in writing. As a result, women are comfortable enough to voice their concerns, and in many cases their input is incorporated into the projects.