For a century, for billions of urban people worldwide, getting around has meant boarding a bus powered by diesel or an auto rickshaw that runs on gasoline, or among the affluent, a car.
Today, a quiet transformation is underway. Berlin, Bogotá, Colombia, and several other cities are taking creative steps to cut gas and diesel from their public transit systems. They are doing so despite striking differences in geography, politics and economics that complicate the transformation.
Berlin is reviving electric tram lines that were ripped out when the Berlin Wall went up. Bogotá is building cable cars that cut through the clouds to connect working-class communities perched on faraway hills. Bergen, a city by the fjords in western Norway, is moving its public ferries away from diesel toward batteries — a remarkable shift in a petrostate that has for decades enriched itself from the sale of oil and gas and that now wants to be a leader in marine vessels for the…