The following give some insight how real transit planning is done and shows that health benefits should be calculated into new light rail cost analysis. Alas, for the SkyTrain lobby, with 80% of its ridership first taking buses to the metro, creates more pollution that new LRT replacing buses!
1 1. Health Impact of Airborne Pollutants
Evidence has now emerged which confirms that the long-term effects of particle air pollution are considerably more significant in damaging Public Health than heart disease.
The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants Report published May 2001, considers that the total effect of long-term exposure on life expectancy for the whole population is about 10 times greater than that estimated for the short-term effects of Air Pollution. The Committee emphasized that although long-term health effects were larger than the short-term effects, there were more uncertainties in these calculations. More people die from respiratory disease in the UK than from coronary heart disease or cancer. In fact the UK has one of the highest death rates from respiratory disease in Europe. Death rates are nearly twice the EU average and well above the European average. “A significant number of deaths can now without doubt be attributed to transport; mainly tail-pipe emissions, road, brake & tyre wear related air born pollutants.” British Thoracic Society Report 2001 The relative burden of respiratory illness & death in the UK is increasing as the burden of heart disease decreases. Respiratory diseases are now killing one in four. The health impacts of pollutants are not just only restricted to individuals afflicted by respiratory disease but contribute to a whole range of other illnesses such as heart problems, liver disorder etc.
The benefits of the tram in this arena alone, to the wider community and the nation are tremendous and should be included by Government when calculating the Cost Benefit Ratio(CBR). Currently they are excluded as is clearly demonstrated in the latest Light Rail Guidance Dec 2006 from DfT. A year-on-year reduction of demands on the National Health Service, by reducing the major respiratory demands on beds will reduce in simple terms the cost to the community. A case could be argued for allocating funds from NHS budgets towards tram schemes. This pump priming would free up NHS resources at a local and national level over the cumulative generational lifecycle of the tramway for the overall benefit of the community.
12. Health Consequences of Pollution and Congestion
The health evidence now available when the present Air Quality Strategy Objective for particles was set focused primarily on acute health effects. Medical evidence is now emerging which suggests that the long-term effects of particle air pollution (PM 2.5 to PM 1 0s) are considerably more significant. In simple terms PMs are products of combustion soot etc.
In its report published in May 2001, the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants considers that the total effect of long-term exposure on life expectancy for the whole population is about 10 times greater than that estimated for the short-term effects.
The Committee emphasised that although long-term effects were larger than those in the short-term, there were more uncertainties in these calculations. A significant number of deaths (between 25% – 40% (depending on which government figures are used) can now, without the slightest doubt, be attributed to transport related pollution. The relative burden of respiratory in the UK is increasing as the burden of heart disease decreases.
1 3. Health Impacts – Costs to the Community
It is not just individuals afflicted by respiratory disease who are impacted by this kind of pollution. There is a whole range of other related illnesses such as heart problems, liver disorder that are also caused by this kind of pollution. The rising level of stress (that can be seen every day in road-rage incidents) is contributing to the lowering of the quality of life for everyone. Direct annual health costs to the UK are enormous. UK health consultations in respiratory disease by General Practice (Local doctors) were over 38 million. Three quarters (76%) are consultations with a GP at the practice-base, around one fifth (22%) are with a GP at the patient’s home, the remaining 2% are with a nurse (either at home or at a practice). Overall Inpatient hospital treatment exceeded 740, 000 inpatient cases treated for respiratory disease in National Health Service hospitals in 1999/2000. These represent 9% of all inpatient cases in men and 5% in women. In children aged 0– 14 years there were over 210,000 inpatient cases for respiratory disease. Indeed, 12% of all NHS hospital admissions are in this age group in 1 999/2000 Around two thirds (67%) of respiratory inpatients are emergency admissions and one-tenth (9%) day cases. In 1999, drug treatment in England alone comprised around 49 million prescriptions dispensed for the prevention and treatment of respiratory disease. Just under half of these prescriptions were for bronchodilators used in the treatment of asthma. The volume of respiratory prescription has increased in recent years. Between 1994 and 1998 the prescription rate from GP’s rose by 13%. Is it a coincidence that this was a similar figure to the rise in car usage? In 1999/2000, there were over 10,500 operations for respiratory disease which cost the UK National Health Service £2,576 million made up as follows Health impacts of traffic and reduction due to light rail. This paper attempts to calculate the improvements in health which result from traffic reductions caused by a modal switch to light rail.
I have used the input data on health effects from “Liveable Cities: The role of tramways and light rail” (Harkins, 2007). Source: British Thoracic society Report 1998
Transport data are from Department for Transport sources. All figures are annual – not all from the same year but year-on-year variations are not expected to be large.
Total deaths from respiratory disease: 153,000
Costs to the nation:
NHS Costs £2576 m
Mortality costs £1644 m
Lost production £3194 m
Lost working days £2239 m
TOTAL £9653 m
Harkins (op. cit.) says that between 25 and 40 per cent of deaths (depending on which government figures are used) can be attributed to transport-related pollution. For the purposes of this paper we take 30 per cent as being a mid-range figure. Therefore the number of fatalities and costs associated with transport-related pollution are therefore 45900 deaths and £2896 m per annum.
Total road vehicle-km in 2006 was as follows (Source: Transport Statistics GB 2007):
Cars and taxis 402.4 B veh-km
Motor cycles 5.2 B veh-km
Buses and coaches 5.4 B veh-km
Light Vans 64.3 B veh-km
HGV 29.1 B veh-km
ALL MOTOR VEHICLES 506.4 B veh-km
Death rates and health costs per vehicle-km
Death rate per vehicle-km = 45900 deaths/402.4 B veh-km = 0.114 deaths per Mveh-km.
Health cost per vehicle-km = £2896 m /402.4 B veh-km = £ 7197 per Mveh-km.
(This assumes it’s all due to cars, but since cars are 80% of traffic this isn’t too drastic)
Light rail data
Total light rail traffic in 2007-08: (Source: Public Transport Statistics
Bulletin GB 2008, Table D. Includes 9 systems):
Passenger boardings 201 M pass-jnys
Passenger-kilometres 1184.5 M pass-km
Modal switch: Estimates of the modal switch from cars due to light rail vary in the region of 20 to 25 per cent -that is, 20 to 25 per cent of the passengers on the light rail system formerly travelled by car. We shall take 25 per cent for these calculations, so the number of passenger-km diverted from car is 25% x 1184.5 = 296 M pass-km diverted from car.
Hence: Reduction in deaths due to modal switch = 0.114 x 296 = 33.74 deaths per year.
Reduction in health costs due to modal switch = £7197 x 296 = £2.1 m per year.
Impact on Road Traffic Accidents, Accident and Casualty data Number of casualties 2006: (Source: Transport Statistics GB 2007):
Seriously injured 29000
Slightly injured 227000
Total traffic (all types, see above) 511 B veh-km Casualty rates
Hence casualty rates:
0.62 per 100M veh-km
6.3 per 100M veh-km
All casualties 51
per 100M veh-km
Hence the following reductions in casualties due to Modal Switch: (reduction in passenger-km = 296 million per annum as above)
Fatalities = 0.62 x 296/100 = 1.8 per year
Seriously injured = 5.68 x 296/100 = 16.8 per year
Slightly injured = 131.5 per year
All severities 150 per year
Costs of Accidents, We apply to these casualty reductions the following costs per casualty obtained from COBA section 3.1 (2002 £) to obtain:
Fatalities: £1,249,890 x 1.8 = £2.25 million/a
Serious injuries: £140,450 x 16.8 = £2.36 million/a
Slight injuries: £10,830 x 131.5 = £1.42 million/a
Total cost of casualties saved = £6.03 million/a
Total cost savings
Adding the savings in health costs (£2.1 m/a) and accidents (£6.0 m/a) gives a total saving of £8.1 million per annum. Amortising £8.1 m/a over 25 years (taken as the life of a light rail system) at 5 per cent gives: Net Present Value of health and accident savings = £ 114 million. THUS THE NPV OF SAVINGS IN HEALTH AND ACCIDENT COSTS ON THE NINE CURRENT LIGHT RAIL SYSTEMS AMOUNTS TO £144 MILLION.
The NPV of savings in health and accident costs on a proposed new system carrying 20 million passengers a year would be one-tenth of this, say £14 million, and this should be counted in the benefits of the new system. LRTA Development Group, 07 March 2009.