Service accessibility and urban transportation choices are crucial in cities' endeavours for securing social equality and environmental sustainability. They are particularly relevant when the public service network is to be rationalized. In this paper we provide a practical example of comparing the impacts of current varying service allocation strategies on travel behaviour and the resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. We take libraries as a local public service to examine the CO2 emissions resulting from residents' library trips in the capital region of Finland. Our analyses are based on data on library use (library loan database, N = 420,000), accessibility (comparable models of travel-time by car, public transportation and non-motorized transport) and customer transport choices (survey, n = 584). Our results show that (1) 52% of library customers use a library that is accessible from their home with minimum CO2 emissions (the “climate-optimal” facility provider), (2) the remaining 48% that choose a non-optimal facility provider produce nearly 90% of the total CO2-emissions related to library customer flows and (3) the service allocation strategies of the different municipalities lead to markedly different CO2-emission patterns resulting from service usage. To conclude, sustainability measures (in our case the CO2 burden) provide useful information on the impact of a service network structure which may be used alongside economic rationales.
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