The Transport System and Society's Metabolism in the UK

This article presents an historic analysis of the United Kingdom transport system over the past 60 years (1937 to 1997). The author uses innovative indicators for the assessment of socioeconomic systems and considers the implications of evaluating environmental load with measures such as material and energy flow accounting. The author begins with a section on the role of transport in industrial societies and describes materials and methods, then present empirical results for the relation of transport, society's metabolism, and economic activity in the UK for the past 60 years. Non-motorized transport and time consumption for mobility are estimated in addition to conventional measures of transport. During the period analyzed, the UK population grew by 20%, while transport of goods and people increased more than threefold; material and energy consumption almost doubled. The transport intensity of domestic material input (DMI) doubled to 300 ton-kilometers (tkm) per ton of DMI while the transport intensity of domestic energy consumption (DEC) doubled to 20 tkm per gigajoule (GJ) of DEC. Thus, while the material and energy intensity of GDP declined significantly, the transport intensity of materials and energy consumption rose. These findings suggest a close link between transport, economic development, and long-term structural transformations. The author comments on one aspect of personal transport: although the average speed of transport has greatly increased, the average number of hours per day devoted to personal transport has not declined. The author calls for a better understanding of these processes in order to identify effective measures to abate the hidden environmental and social costs of transport activity.

  • Authors:
    • Schulz, Niels B
  • Publication Date: 2004-11


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 133-155
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01013477
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 18 2005 8:05AM