To meet clean energy goals, everyone will need better transportation options

The proposed Green New Deal, like many local green energy and climate action plans across the country, aspires to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. SSTI has crunched the numbers in several cases, including for Hawaii’s Transcending Oil report, and found that ignoring the amount that people drive means even the most ambitious energy plans could fall well below their targets. But that also means focusing on those who drive the most—typically in far-flung suburbs with limited transportation options—and finding creative ways for them to reduce their impacts.

To meet clean energy goals, everyone will need better transportation options

The proposed Green New Deal, like many local green energy and climate action plans across the country, aspires to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. SSTI has crunched the numbers in several cases, including for Hawaii’s Transcending Oil report, and found that ignoring the amount that people drive means even the most ambitious energy plans could fall well below their targets. But that also means focusing on those who drive the most—typically in far-flung suburbs with limited transportation options—and finding creative ways for them to reduce their impacts.

Estimating policy effects on reduced vehicle travel in Hawaii (SSTI, 2019)

Transcending Oil, released in April 2018, describes Hawaii’s path toward meeting its ambitious clean energy goals by 2045. The report was commissioned by Elemental Excelerator and prepared independently by Rhodium Group and Smart Growth America. It focuses mainly on transitioning the electrical grid to renewable energy while moving large numbers of vehicles to electric power but also points to the importance of managing overall travel demand through transportation policies and investments. This technical guide describes the methods and findings behind Transcending Oil’s travel demand forecasts, developed by SSTI and Smart Growth America.

Modernizing Mitigation: A Demand-Centered Approach (SSTI, September 2018)

This report proposes a new approach to assessing and responding to land use-driven transportation impacts, called “modern mitigation.” Instead of relying on auto capacity improvements as a first resort, this approach builds on practice around transportation demand management (TDM) to make traffic reduction the priority. Based on programs dating to the 1990s in several cities, a modern mitigation program requires certain new land uses to achieve TDM credits.

SSTI CEO Community of Practice meets in Boston

CEOs and other senior officials from 16 state DOTs, as well as the Massachusetts Commission on the Future of Transportation, gathered in late July for SSTI’s annual Community of Practice meeting. While the conversation was free-flowing without any formal motions or votes, and so is not readily summarized, readers may enjoy seeing the briefing materials that formed the basis for the discussion.

New research reinforces the importance of the built environment to cycling mode share

A recently published study from Montreal sheds new light on the importance of the built environment in influencing bicycle commuting and the resulting impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers also estimated the effect of bicycle infrastructure accessibility on cycling mode share. They estimated the effect of the new bicycle infrastructure as yielding a 1.7 percent reduction in transportation GHG emissions, roughly equivalent to the estimated effects of replacing the city’s buses with hybrid models and electrifying the city’s commuter trains.

Intersections of equity in transportation

Concern over equity in our transportation system was on display at three major conferences the last week in October. PolicyLink’s Equity Summit took on the transportation equity conversation directly. SSTI attended this conference as part of its ongoing work developing a tool to assess equity in transportation investments. Both RailVolution and the NACTO Designing Cities 2015 conference also occurred over the same week as the Equity Summit, and both meetings notably held meaningful sessions that discussed equity in the transportation system.

Virginia adopts multimodal, competitive project scoring process

Last year Virginia enacted legislation to select state-supported transportation projects through a multimodal, competitive process. The law prescribed five areas to be considered in the scoring, along with project cost: congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety, environmental quality and land use. The relative weights of those elements, and details of how to assess project benefits in those categories, were left to the rulemaking process, which concluded June 17.

The Innovative DOT: A Handbook of Policy and Practice (SSTI & SGA, 2012)

State officials across the country are facing the same challenges. Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking while transportation demands grow. Most state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have ambitious goals: improve safety, reduce congestion, enhance economic opportunity, improve reliability, preserve system assets, accelerate project delivery, and help to create healthier, more livable neighborhoods, just to name a few.
The handbook provides 31 recommendations transportation officials can use as they position their agencies for success in the new economy. The handbook documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied.

The Colorado Energy Smart Transportation Initiative: A Framework for Considering Energy in Transportation (SSTI and Colorado DOT, 2012)

The mission of Colorado’s Energy Smart Transportation Initiative was to develop a framework for considering energy efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in transportation decision-making. With SSTI assistance, a collaborative team composed of federal and state agencies, MPOs, and rural planning partners came together to leverage resources and promote efficiency and effectiveness among agencies by exploring ways to develop “energy smart transportation” strategies. This report includes strategies developed to incorporate energy efficiency and GHG emissions in transportation planning, increase energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions from transportation, advance environmentally friendly alternative vehicle and fuel technologies, and increase efficiency through truck fleet enhancements, improved traveler information, and other methods.