Transportation investments and policy solutions must work towards reducing pollution and providing affordable and accessible mobility options for our communities—these solutions should include public transit, move toward transportation electrification for people and goods, and be based on resilient infrastructure.
Specific Policy Proposals:
Climate policies and funding in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill: Fight to keep critical policies and funding to support climate in the final Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill. Decarbonizing the transportation sector is a critical step to meeting the IPCC goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and increased resiliency will be needed to support community mobility and connectivity. Congress should include key climate provisions such as a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions performance measure; connectivity performance measure for transportation access; $8.35 billion through 2025, for a new apportionment program to support carbon pollution reduction; $6.25 billion through 2025, for a new apportionment program to support resilience and make it a core part of the Federal-aid highway program; and $250 million per year through 2025 for Community Climate Innovation Grants.
Increase funding for the Mass Transit Account within the Highway Trust Fund and Capital Investment Grants (CIG). Both public transit riders and operators have been deeply affected by the public health and economic crises stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Riders, often essential workers, who do not own vehicles and rely on public transit as their only way to get around are dealing with reduced access and unsanitary conditions. Public transit operators are on the front line providing necessary service and falling sick more frequently than those who can stay home. Congress should provide at least $20 billion in emergency funding through 2021 for operations and $150 billion in long term funding through reauthorization across the Mass Transit Account, Transit Capital Investment Grants (enough to fully fund existing projects in the pipeline), and intercity and commuter rail. All new funds, especially general fund transfers, to the Highway Trust Fund should be split 50-50 between the highway account and the public transit account.
Increase Funding for Low and No Emissions Bus Fleets. The EV market in general is facing an unprecedented fall off in demand due to the economic crisis precipitated by the pandemic. Grants to purchase electric buses would reduce public transit agencies' operating and maintenance costs, providing both a short-term stimulus for bus manufacturing and charging infrastructure installation and long-term cost reductions that will make public transit agencies more viable in the face of expected long-term reductions in ridership. Low-income residents and communities of color disproportionately rely on public transit buses and live in neighborhoods where exhaust worsens public health. An electric transit bus will emit about 47 kg less of NOx and 78 fewer metric tons less of GHG per year compared to a diesel bus. Additionally, an electric transit bus can achieve the equivalent of 25 mpg, as compared to 5 mpg for a conventional diesel hybrid bus, which can save up to $50,000 annually in fuel and maintenance costs. If Congress provides $7.5 billion, it would be enough to replace 10,000 public transit buses and build associated charging infrastructure.
Triple Funding for Clean Cities Program, and Focus on Expanding Electric School Buses, Port Electrification, and EV Charging Infrastructure. Local government tax revenues have been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis. Grants and loans to local public transit agencies and school boards help provide communities with electric school buses, and electrifying ports is another important way to reduce pollution from the transportation sector. Congress must similarly reauthorize Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding at $500 million dollars per year.
Invest in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvements. In the midst of the current COVID-19 crisis, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) are at historic lows, but as the economy reopens, and even when it is safe to return to public transit, there will likely be a bias for single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) driving. Single driver trips account for the majority of pollution from the transportation sector, and will skyrocket if we do not invest heavily in GHG reducing infrastructure, which is supported by the Congestion Mitigation and air Quality (CMAQ) program. CMAQ has wide eligibility and can be used to support most low-carbon transportation modes including: public transit, active transportation, electrification, and port and freight pollution mitigation. We are calling on Congress to provide $50 billion in funding for these improvements over five years.
Increase funding for the Surface Transportation Block Grant, Transportation Alternatives Program (STBG/TAP). In an era of social distancing, more people are using active transportation to get to essential jobs, run errands or just get some exercise. Modern cities in the United States were not built for human scale transportation, but for cars. Numerous communities have retrofitted their streets to accommodate higher levels of biking and walking by implementing slow streets, widening sidewalks, and installing pop up bike lane networks. Some communities are interested in making these changes permanent, and increasing the safety of their existing walking and biking infrastructure. As public transit returns, increasing biking and walking infrastructure will provide much needed first and last mile connections to high frequency transit networks. Congress should increase funding for STBG/TAP to $1.7 billion over five years through the next surface transportation reauthorization, and amend the program to remove transferability to other highway programs except CMAQ, and increase the federal share for projects to 90 percent during COVID recovery.
Increase EV Infrastructure Funding. The EV market is slowing in the face of COVID-19 and a likely global recession, threatening the entire sector at a time it needs to be gaining speed. Installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure and hydrogen fueling infrastructure along designated alternative fuel corridors, will support the EV market during this critical time. Congress should provide at least $350 million per year to fund EV infrastructure.
LINKS TO RESOURCES
Clean Energy Jobs Report:
Harvard Pollution + COVID study: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.05.20054502v2.full.pdf
What amount of funding is needed:
Estimate Number of Jobs
How would the program strengthen the community?
Air pollution for cars and trucks not evenly shared
Description of public health outcomes low /no emission bus program:
Clean cities program for school buses:
Existing materials in enviro community
low/no emission bus program:
Other existing materials: