MPOs making little progress on climate

The bad news: With some exceptions, MPOs appear to be devoting relatively little attention to their role in climate mitigation―reduction of VMT. The somewhat better news: where they are paying attention, MPOs seem to generally be living up to their commitments in their project programming.

Post-COVID calls for “Responsible Transport”

A recent think piece published in the journal of Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives makes a very compelling case for rethinking our current “smart”, “innovative”, and “intelligent” transportation policies. Through their idea of “responsible transport”, the authors want policy makers to move away from the top-down planning approach to a more individual-centric planning attitude, where they want the end user to know the exact impact of their transportation choices before making a mobility decision.

Minneapolis transportation plan addresses climate, pandemic

The City of Minneapolis has released a draft of its Transportation Action Plan (TAP), as a companion to its 2040 Comprehensive Plan. In the latest ITE Journal, Transportation Planning Manager Kathleen Mayell outlines details of the plan, which sets out to respond to the declared climate emergency by prioritizing low-carbon means of transportation, while focusing on additional city goals.

“Dear diary, I took the bus today!” – Cost-efficient travel behavior influencers

“Soft” transportation policy measures can influence a significant reduction in personal car use, according to a new research. Six psychological variables that can affect travel behavior: attitudes; emotions; habits;  social, cultural, and moral norms; knowledge and awareness ; and capability and self-efficacy. The results show that interventions that focus on social, cultural, and moral norms have the most significant effect on travel behavior.

Is bigger better?

New analysis of FARS data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety points to crashes being more survivable for drivers of large SUVs than for drivers of smaller cars. While driver death is one measure of safety, there are a number of other criteria that offer a richer story of SUV safety, such as their contribution to emissions and increased dangers to those not inside the vehicle.

Major American automakers eying SUVs over electric vehicles

Transitioning to electric power has been a major focus of state and local agencies trying to meet ambitious emissions reduction goals. That involves rolling out more charging stations, bolstering the grid, and offering incentives for drivers to go electric; but consumers will also need plenty of cars to choose from. American-made options, however, are going to be limited.

Electric school buses test V2G technology

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.

Framing resilience for state DOTs

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.

Forecasters guarded about EV share of VMT

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.

Planning for resilience in Vermont

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.