Impact of Public Transport Strikes on Traffic and Pollution in the City of Barcelona

Authors: Lyna González, Jordi Perdiguero and Àlex Sanz

Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Vol. 98, September, 2021

Many Spanish cities’ air contains excessive levels of pollutants caused by traffic. These pollutants are associated with high concentrations of vehicles in urban and surrounding areas, such as Madrid and Barcelona. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 96.8% of Spain's population breathe polluted air. This paper provides empirical evidence on the effect of public transport strikes on Barcelona's air quality through an econometric analysis. The period analyzed included 147 days of some kind of public transport strike: bus (57), metro (21), trains (71), and tram (4); and also four general strikes. The estimates show that public transport strikes increases the concentration level of SO2, CO, PM10, and NOX throughout the city, especially in the case of metro and RENFE trains. These results also allow us to understand how commuters substitute transport modes and to propose specific policies to increase public transport use.