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Improving Transportation Choices

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Transportation systems that provide Californians with a range of options for how to get around can provide enormous benefits to communities and to the entire state. This section includes research about the economic, health, climate, and community benefits of various transportation alternatives and information on advocating for transportation policies that reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.



Quick Fact:

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) estimates that with a reasonably ambitious approach to SB 375, its residents would save 1.7 million hours that would otherwise be spent in traffic. That translates into $7.7 billion in annual cost savings. (SCAG staff memo – SB 375 Final Draft Regional Targets, September 2, 2010)

Model Policies for Improving Transportation Choices

TransForm’s 2009 RTP Platform: Fighting Climate Change and Winning a Better Bay Area
TransForm worked with a coalition of allies to develop this policy platform, which includes ten detailed recommendations for the Bay Area’s Regional Transportation Plan update in 2009. While the document is specific to the Bay Area, this policy platform is a great resource for any group working on an RTP update
Download the platform


Publications and Tools

Regional Transportation Plan Guidelines
From the California Transportation Commission
These guidelines, updated in 2010 to reflect changes brought about by SB 375, provide great detail on the process of developing a Regional Transportation Plan and accompanying Sustainable Communities Strategy.
Download the RTP Guidelines

Transportation and the New Generation
U.S. Public Interest Research Group – April 2012
From World War II until just a few years ago, the number of miles driven annually on America’s roads steadily increased. Then, at the turn of the century, something changed: Americans began driving less. By 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004. The trend away from driving has been led by young people. From 2001 and 2009, the average annual number of vehicle-miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita – a drop of 23 percent.
Link to report

Beyond the Tracks: The potential of high-speed rail to reshape California’s Growth
By SPUR – January 2011
High-speed rail has the potential to offer Californians far more than the opportunity to travel quickly around the state. Throughout the world, high-speed rail systems have had profound and transformational impacts on cities, metropolitan areas and broader megaregions. This paper explores what it will take to generate a land-use planning and development response to the high-speed rail investment at both a statewide level and in the 25 communities that will receive stations
Link to report’s website

Do Roads Pay For Themselves? Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding
U.S. Public Interest Research Group – January 2011
Highway advocates often claim that roads “pay for themselves,” with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering – or nearly covering – the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong. Highways do not – and, except for brief periods in our nation’s history, never have – paid for themselves through the taxes that highway advocates label “user fees.”
Download the report

Smart Transportation Emission Reduction Strategies
By Todd Litman , Victoria Transport Policy Institute – January 2011
Imagine two neighbors with different transportation profiles. One walks, bikes and rides public transit for most local travel, but drives a fuel inefficient sport utility vehicle 4,500 annual miles for out-of-town trips, consuming 300 gallons of fuel and producing three tons of CO2. Another drives a fuel efficient hybrid 100 daily miles, consuming 600 gallons of fuel and producing six tons of CO2 annually. Which travel pattern is best overall?
Download the report

Transit Savings Report
By the American Public Transit Association – December 2010
This report calculates the average annual and monthly savings for public transit users. The report is updated monthly by the APTA, and as of December 2010, the annual savings is estimated to be $9,581 for each individual of a 2-person household.
Link to Transit Savings Report website

Driven Apart: How Sprawl is Lengthening our Commutes and why Misleading Mobility Measures are Making Things Worse
By Joseph Cortright, CEOs for Cities – September 2010
This report unveils the real reason Americans spend so much time in traffic and offers a dramatic critique of the 25 year old industry standard created by the Texas Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Report (UMR) – often used to justify billions of dollars in expenditures to build new roads and highways.
Link to report

Sustainability and Livability: Summary of Definitions, Goals, Objectives and Performance Indicators
By Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute – July 2010
This short report summarizes basic definitions and concepts for sustainable and livable transportation planning.
Download the report

The Effect of Gasoline Prices on Household Location
By The Federal Reserve Board, Raven Molloy and Hui Shan – June 2010
Gasoline prices influence where households decide to locate by changing the cost of commuting. This report finds that the substantial increase in gas prices since 2003 may have reduced demand for housing in areas far from employment centers.
Link to report abstract
Download the full report

Public Transportation’s Role in Responding to Climate Change
By the US DOT, Federal Transit Administration – January 2010
This paper details the role public transportation has in responding to the challenge of climate change. It collects and analyzes data from across the country on public transportation fuel use, vehicles deployed, rides taken, and other key metrics, drawn from the National Transit Database at the Federal Transit Administration.
Download the report

Public Transportation: Moving America Forward
By American Public Transportation Association – 2010
This report outlines the ways in which public transportation benefits all American, whether they use it or not. Public transportation gets people to the places that are important to them — to jobs, to medical appointments, to educational opportunities, and more. Public transportation is crucial to the economy. It creates and retains jobs. It revitalizes business districts and lets employers tap into a larger workforce. It stimulates commerce. And it increases property values.
Download the report

Moving Cooler: An Analysis of Transportation Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
By Cambridge Systematics, Inc. (Published by the Urban Land Institute) – July 2009
This study provides an objective and scientific analysis of the effectiveness and cost of almost 50 scalable transportation strategies, both alone and combined, to reduce GHG emissions.
Link to Key Findings
Purchase the complete report

Cost-Effective GHG Reductions through Smart Growth & Improved Transportation Choices: An economic case for strategic investment of cap-and-trade revenues
By Steve Winkelman, Allison Bishins, and Chuck Kooshian – Center for Clean Air Policy – June 2009
This CCAP study concludes that comprehensive application of smart growth best practices and improved transportation choices could significantly reduce transportation emissions at a cost savings to society.
Download the study
Download the Executive Summary

CO2 Reductions Attributable to Smart Growth in California
By Reid Ewing, University of Maryland and Arthur C. Nelson, University of Utah – September 2008
Download report


Links for More Info

Move LA
Move San Diego
Transportation for America

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