The Need to Elevate VMT Reduction Strategies; Recap of the October Mobile Source Strategy Hearing

On October 28th, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) conducted a public hearing to consider approval of the Mobile Source Strategy. For those who don’t know, the Mobile Source Strategy is an integrated scenario planning effort that identifies strategies to reduce emissions from mobile sources to meet climate and equity goals.

We see the Mobile Source Strategy as an opportunity to advocate for the importance of vehicle miles traveled reduction to the entire board. This blog is a recap of that meeting and ClimatePlan’s comments. This blog also provides next steps as the mobile source strategy has been sent to the legislature. The short of it is, the ClimatePlan network can step up to advocate for reducing vehicle miles traveled, especially in ways that provide access to resources and reduce air pollution for environmental justice communities.

Meeting Recap 

CARB staff provided an overview of the goals and targets that the mobile source strategy will address.

They also MSS_technology_strategies_image.pngsummarized the changes they made and reviewed the potential implementation measures in response to the MSS. To the right, is the overview of the strategies in the presentation. In the call to action section below, there will be suggested implementation strategies.

There were three themes of the meeting, but vehicle miles traveled reduction was not as prominent as it should have been:

  1. How the state should immediately remove diesel trucks, including using life cycle analysis and the technology-mix low NOx trucks, dairy digesters, and biogas.
  2. The mobile source strategy needs to be aligned with current CARB staff proposed regulations. 
  3. The mobile source strategy should be bolder.

There were only a few comments on the importance of reducing vehicle miles traveled from the public (including ClimatePlan) and the board. Overwhelmingly, one of the main themes from the meeting is how to immediately reduce emissions; and how to do so equitably. From this, it is apparent that there needs to be more advocacy of vehicle miles traveled reduction: its immediate emissions reductions, how it can provide long-term benefits, and how it can be done equitably. One of the ways to do this is to highlight specific strategies to reduce vehicle miles traveled. Before the board meeting, ClimatePlan wrote a comment letter that does this.

ClimatePlan’s letter to the California Air Resources Board

The letter supports the strategies within the MSS that would reduce vehicle miles traveled. (Linked here is the mobile source strategy, the VMT section is page 109 or pg 105 on the PDF). The letter also urges CARB staff to implement the recommendations that equitably invest in transportation needs, support the implementation of the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI), and provide technical guidance for SB 375. Equitable investments in transportation is one of the strategies that will bring immediate reduction benefits for environmental justice communities. Although they provide benefits later, we can highlight how providing technical assistance in SB 375 and supporting CAPTI implementation is needed to reach the state’s climate goals. These goals are essential because there needs to be a fundamental shift away from driving and the use of cars to meet our climate and equity goals.

Call to action

It is vital to build off the letter to advocate for reducing vehicle miles traveled. It is especially necessary to highlight ways that VMT reduction provides long-term and short-term benefits.


Next steps would be to look towards the Scoping Plan and State Implementation Plan. The Scoping Plan tracks the state’s progress to meeting the state’s climate goals. (For more information, read our previous blog). CARB staff intend to have a workshop on the transportation sector very soon.

  • The link to the Scoping Plan workshop page is here for convenience. 

The State Implementation Plan is how CARB will implement clean air reductions. As seen above, vehicle miles traveled reduction strategies are not included in the new measures. However, they mentioned that in the public comment they received, there was a need to enhance transportation choices as a way to reduce VMT. We have to continue to advocate for this strategy and others for the state SIP. Below is an overview of the timeline. CARB conducted the second workshop in October, but will be releasing a draft in the winter. 



*Credit to CARB staff for presentation slide images.

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