Dominion Energy in Virginia is in the midst of buying electric buses for schools across Virginia. When not transporting kids to and from school, the buses will serve as batteries to feed power back into the electrical grid. Using buses for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) power benefits Dominion Energy because it helps smooth out demand on other power sources. Schools get new, clean buses that do not require diesel fuel for free, saving money and cutting emissions around the schools.
The mission of many state DOTs has evolved beyond the traditional “highway department” to include protecting the quality of life of the people of a given state, and the integration of all travel modes to safely move people and goods. Resilience has come to mean more than the quick and cost-effective restoration of roads after a disaster. Acknowledging this, a new paper in Transportation Research Part D focuses on resilience in theory and practice, and explores a framework for the discussion of resilience within state DOTs and the development of resilience strategies.
As transportation planners and environmental researchers look at climate policies, a smooth and equitable transition to a low-carbon global economy is an essential component. In the passenger vehicle sector, how will this process be affected by oil demand and EV adoption trends? A new report examines a number of EV penetration forecasts and summarizes the 2019 trends and their changes since 2018. The report focuses on passenger vehicles, which account for about 23 percent of oil demand. While other segments of the transportation sector—trucks, and aviation and shipping—account for about 29 percent of the oil demand, electrifying cars may be easier, according to the author.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation, along with a list of partners, has developed a planning tool to identify and prioritize parts of the transportation network most at risk of flooding, fluvial erosion, landslides, or other natural disasters. The need for a forward-looking approach to avoid or protect against roadway destruction, and keep people connected to needed resources, was illustrated in 2011 by the effects of Tropical Storm Irene. The Transportation Resilience Planning Tool was exhibited in a presentation at the 2019 SSTI State DOT Community of Practice meeting in Denver.
Electric vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce emissions and the climate impact of transportation. But the global increase in SUV sales—led by but not exclusive to the U.S.—is more than neutralizing these reductions. That is the message from an analysis of the World Energy Outlook 2019, due out on November 13th.
Two states that are changing how transportation investments are prioritized were featured recently on an SSTI webinar. Virginia just funded a third round of projects under its Smart Scale program, while Hawaii piloted its own SmartTRAC program with help from SSTI and Smart Growth America. SSTI will soon be launching a new project to learn from these past experiences and guide future programs, and we invite interested agencies to reach out.
The necessary transition away from burning fossil fuels for transportation could be quite resource intensive. So say leading UK scientists in a recent letter in response to a recommended target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The letter lays out the difficulty of producing enough raw materials, and energy, to fulfill the needs of this transition, using known technologies.
Two recent studies suggest that California’s change in assessing the impact of development—from level of service (LOS) to vehicle miles traveled (VMT)—can reduce costs for developers and streamline the review of projects. Under the new guidelines, both studies to determine transportation impacts and any mitigation measures after review are less costly than the previous requirements. This has been confirmed not just by academic studies, but also by the City of Pasadena in a paper by recently-retired Director of Transportation, Fred Dock.
There is a lot we still don’t know about how climate change will affect transportation networks and how to make infrastructure more resilient, but new research sheds some light on these questions. A model developed to study the impacts of floods on road networks indicates that even small, localized increases in rainfall could cause widespread disruptions and road outages.
Transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations often wrestle with how to properly value transportation investments, especially when it comes to things that can’t be measured in terms of vehicle delay, such as multimodal access and environmental justice. Some of these challenges are tackled in a new issue of Research in Transportation and Business Management, edited in part by SSTI. Those familiar with SSTI’s recent work in the development and implementation of accessibility metrics may be interested in a paper describing a new measure of non-work accessibility.