More evidence that TNCs are clogging downtown streets (and what NYC is doing about it)

In August, Uber and Lyft jointly released an analysis conducted by Fehr & Peers examining how their vehicles are contributing to VMT in six major cities: Boston, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. The study found that Uber and Lyft vehicles account for just 1-3 percent of total VMT in the metro regions. However, they are contributing a significantly larger share in the core counties of several of these regions.

Transit-oriented development, VMT, and induced gentrification

Many cities are pursuing transit-oriented development as a strategy to decrease regional vehicle miles traveled. But as TOD has become popular with higher-income residents, low-income residents can be pushed out, complicating that goal. A recent study in California looked at travel patterns of both the new residents of transit-oriented neighborhoods, as well as the households displaced due to gentrification.

UK scientists warn of resource costs in transitioning to net-zero emissions by 2050

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.

Shifting from LOS to VMT would save time, money, and better support local goals

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.

VMT moderates after recession-driven swings

U.S. vehicle-miles traveled, which had declined during the recession and then spiked, returned to a more normal level in 2018. According to FHWA’s Travel Monitoring Trends data, total VMT grew by 0.4 percent in 2018. That rate was slower than population growth, resulting in a slight decline in VMT per capita.

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.

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.

Tolling strategies may mitigate the impact of AVs on VMT and congestion

The anticipated shift to autonomous vehicles raises several concerns, among them are whether AVs will increase total vehicle miles traveled, exacerbate congestion, or replace the use of transit and active modes. A new study focused on Austin, TX, models the effects that two adoption scenarios may have, comparing the results to current conditions. The experiment shows a jump in VMT, increased congestion, and a shift away from public transportation. The authors then mitigate the scenarios by applying four tolling schemes, and examine the results.

Tolling strategies may mitigate the impact of AVs on VMT and congestion

The anticipated shift to autonomous vehicles raises several concerns, among them are whether AVs will increase total vehicle miles traveled, exacerbate congestion, or replace the use of transit and active modes. A new study focused on Austin, TX, models the effects that two adoption scenarios may have, comparing the results to current conditions. The experiment shows a jump in VMT, increased congestion, and a shift away from public transportation. The authors then mitigate the scenarios by applying four tolling schemes, and examine the results.