As with many organizations, the COVID pandemic prompted state transportation agencies across the country to embrace greater flexibility in where, when, and how employees work. For large organizations with diverse staff—from road maintenance crews to administrative support—the transition presents many challenges. A new NCHRP report outlines how several agencies have approached those challenges and offers guidance for those still trying to find their way.
In the United States, the design of our transportation infrastructure to prioritize driving and parking produces a number of negative public health outcomes, including air pollution, deadly crashes, and increased social isolation. A new study highlights another issue: health care services are more difficult to access for those who do not own a vehicle and have limited access to public transportation.
Accessibility analysis, measuring the ease with which people can reach destinations, could shift the paradigm in the fields of land use and transportation planning. Where traffic speeds once reigned supreme, momentum is building behind the adoption of a more comprehensive metric. While uptake has thus far been somewhat diffuse among cities, metropolitan planning organizations, and states, those who have the capacity and resources to implement accessibility analysis find it a powerful tool for leveling the playing field between modes, focusing on the movement of people over vehicles, and centering the needs of under-resourced communities.
The interstate highway system is arguably the largest and most impactful project in American history—not just in terms of its cost and the way it connected businesses and cities across the country, but also because of the devastating impact it had on people of color and low-income communities in central cities. All levels of government played a role in pushing interstates through cities. Now it is everyone’s responsibility to confront the long-term consequences. The federal Reconnecting Communities program marks an important turning point in addressing these impacts, but also represents the beginning of a decades-long process to address and correct past damages.
Fare-free transit has made headlines recently as more agencies propose bold plans to cut costs for riders. The latest ambitious proposal comes from Washington, D.C., which will eliminate fares on all bus rides in the city starting July 1 while also expanding 24-hour service. This is especially beneficial for low-income riders, although transit advocates often worry that eliminating fare revenues could force agencies to cut service or prevent them from making necessary improvements. These concerns raise important questions. How are these programs being paid for, and what are the prospects that they will be sustainable?
The Biden administration’s newly released National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization represents an historic mission alignment among federal agencies to meet an economy-wide goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050. The U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, have developed this joint strategy to guide the decarbonization of the transportation sector—the largest GHG contributor, currently generating roughly one-third of U.S. emissions.
High-income travelers pay the bulk of congestion pricing fees, according to a new UK study. Others tend to change their travel behavior and would benefit from better travel options.
Walking in the U.S. comes with a combination of safety risks and health benefits. That tradeoff has a lot to do with where you live and what demographic group you fall in, according to several new studies. Overall, the most disadvantaged groups—people of color and those in lower income brackets—often face the greatest risks while getting the fewest benefits.
In rural places, where population density is often as low as it gets, fixed-route public transit generally has few advocates. But there is unmet demand for transit in rural America, suggests new research presented in the Journal of Rural Studies. In rural areas where populations are growing and densifying, transit can help reduce segregation and ease the economic plight of the most vulnerable.
More and more people are recognizing the costs associated with driving, and that driving less opens space for alternatives and makes us healthier. Now new research adds one more tick to the human health costs column: particulates from transportation cause cancer.