Yet more evidence: “If you build it they will drive”

There’s new evidence, from academia and a prominent real-world case, that ever-expanding highway capacity is a futile strategy for reducing congestion. Crosstown, a data-analysis project at the University of Southern California, looked at vehicle speeds on the 405 over five years, capturing the last year before the new lanes opened and the period since. One example does not confirm the Fundamental Law of Road Congestion, but the 405 case is consistent with that theory, as is a new comprehensive study of induced demand, by Kent Hymel of Cal State Northridge.

Researchers re-evaluate how we value transportation

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.

A tool to estimate the added VMT from highway expansions

Since passage of S.B. 743 in 2013, California agencies have wrestled with questions around the added travel and emissions resulting from land use and transportation projects. On the land use side, see SSTI’s recent webinars about land-use review reforms in San Jose and Pasadena. On the transportation side, the National Center for Sustainable Transportation has developed an induced travel demand calculator designed to calculate the percentage of additional annual VMT when highways are widened.

A tool to estimate the added VMT from highway expansions

Since passage of S.B. 743 in 2013, California agencies have wrestled with questions around the added travel and emissions resulting from land use and transportation projects. On the land use side, see SSTI’s recent webinars about land-use review reforms in San Jose and Pasadena. On the transportation side, the National Center for Sustainable Transportation has developed an induced travel demand calculator designed to calculate the percentage of additional annual VMT when highways are widened.

COMMUTE bill would boost accessibility metrics

A new bipartisan bill in Congress would provide funding for DOTs and MPOs to apply innovative accessibility metrics to decision-making. It would require U.S. DOT to provide data and support for five state DOTs and 10 MPOs to measure access to destinations by various modes. Whether the bill passes or not, the field is likely to continue looking at accessibility as an important metric, and SSTI has been at the forefront of the effort to apply accessibility to transportation and land use decisions.

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.

Accessibility analysis highlights transit deficiencies in New Orleans

The average transit user in New Orleans can access only a fraction of the opportunities that drivers can, according to a local advocacy group, and recent transit investments aren’t helping much. The group, Ride New Orleans, just released its annual State of Transit 2018 report, which includes an analysis of the number of jobs accessible by car and by transit within 30 minutes. They found that the average transit user can only reach 12 percent of the region’s jobs within 30 minutes, compared to 89 percent for drivers.