By Owen Eagan,
Senior Vice President, Transporation, The Saint Consulting
A new report published by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) has found that transportation efficiencies can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase savings for consumers. The report, entitled Moving Cooler, was commissioned by a diverse group of stakeholders representing transportation experts, industry, federal agencies, and environmental organizations and other NGOs (see http://movingcooler.info).
The study analyzed almost 50 scalable transportation strategies, from transit alternatives to more efficient driving. Implementing bundles of these transportation strategies could reduce GHG emissions by up to 24% below baseline levels in 2050 and provide consumers with an estimated average savings in direct vehicle costs of up to $112 billion annually over a 40-year timeframe. Among the strategies that contribute most to GHG reductions were land use and smart growth strategies that reduce travel distances, and multimodal strategies that expand travel options.
This report is significant because it provides persuasive information from credible sources and contributes to the debate about the merits of transportation efficiencies. However, if part of the solution involves land use, smart growth and multimodal strategies, the challenge now becomes, “How do we get that message out and ensure that these strategies are adopted?” Because all land use decisions are political, the best way of getting that message out is to educate residents about the benefits of these projects and turning that support into political action.
In order to do that, real estate developers and transportation efficiency advocates need to reach out to key stakeholders using traditional political campaign methods. What this means is meeting with residents and engaging them one-on-one to create a dialogue on transportation issues. Only then can developers and advocates effectively educate residents and address any concerns they might have. Our experience shows that these efforts are greatly appreciated by residents as it gives them a voice in the process and develops trust among stakeholders. In fact, there is no better means of building support for any type of real estate development project.
Following is a broader list of transportation efficiency benefits for communities to consider, including the recent findings of the ULI report:
1. Protects the Environment
Twenty-eight percent of all GHG emissions in the U.S. come from transportation sources. Efficiencies in transportation planning could reduce these emissions by up to 24% by 2050 (see http://movingcooler.info).
2. Saves Money
Transportation policies could provide consumers with an estimated average savings in direct vehicle costs of up to $112 billion a year over a 40-year period (see http://movingcooler.info).
3. Saves Time
The average driver spends 36.1 hours per year stuck in traffic (see http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/media_information/press_release.stm).
4. Increases Productivity
Traffic congestion causes an annual loss of $40 billion to U.S. business http://www.apta.com/research/info/online/ben_overview.cfm).
5. Stimulates Economic Development
Every public dollar invested in transit returns up to $6 in benefits for communities (see http://www.apta.com/research/info/online/ben_overview.cfm).
6. Generates Higher Tax Revenues
With a 6-to-1 net return on investment, public transportation generates higher tax revenues for cities and towns (see http://www.apta.com/research/info/online/ben_overview.cfm).
7. Creates and Sustains Jobs
Every $1 billion invested in public transportation infrastructure supports approximately 47,500 jobs (see http://www.apta.com/research/info/online/ben_overview.cfm).
8. Enhances Mobility for Seniors
One in four seniors in the 75-plus age group does not drive. Meeting the transportation needs of seniors is a major community objective and national goal (see http://www.apta.com/research/info/online/ben_overview.cfm).
9. Reduces Dependence on Foreign Oil
Transportation policies could translate into a savings of at least 110 million barrels of oil a year. At maximum levels of deployment, these savings could yield as much as 660 million barrels per year (see http://movingcooler.info).
10. Promotes Smart Growth
Changes in land use and transportation options such as transit-oriented development can have significant positive impacts on the environment (see http://movingcooler.info).
Owen Eagan is senior vice president for transportation for The Saint Consulting Group, email email@example.com and phone 781-831-2494