» The FAST Act is passed by the House and Senate, profoundly dismissing the claim that transportation is to be funded with user fees. Yet it reinforces decades-old policy about how money is to be spent and does nothing for the climate.
It’s a big achievement. At least, that’s what members of the U.S. House and Senate are telling themselves this week, now that they’ve passed a major long-term transportation reauthorization bill with overwhelming majorities from both sides of the aisle. President Obama will sign the bill in the coming days.
This legislation reinforces the trend that has been developing over the past seven years: Transportation funding at the federal level no longer has to be derived from user fees.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (“FAST”) will not fix America’s surface transportation, but it will provide $305 billion in spending over the next five years for our highway, transit, and railroad networks,
Continue reading A new federal transportation bill rejects the long-standing consensus on revenue but preserves the policy status quo »
» Does the $25,000 fully electric Nissan Leaf muddle environmental arguments in favor of transit?
Nissan’s new Leaf, expected to reach American shores this December, represents nothing less than a revolution in thinking about automobile propulsion: it is the first modern, reasonably priced, four-door car powered completely by electricity. It is the opening slide in what is likely to be an avalanche of such vehicles coming to market over the next decade — Chevrolet’s electric-for-40-miles Volt is arriving later this fall as well at a higher price point. The significance of their collective potential environmental benefits cannot be dismissed.
The immediate consequences of the replacement of at least a segment of the American vehicle fleet with electric cars will be positive: an immediate elimination of local point-source pollution, lessened street noise in the urban environment, and of course a reduction in the consumption of fossil
Continue reading Who’s Afraid of the Electric Car? »
» Transit’s environmental credibility depends on a switch away from carbon-based fuels — And a renewed sense that well-designed public transportation produces density.
Straight to the point: There are a panoply of choices to be made when investing in public transportation, but there is never an excuse for minimizing the negative environmental effects of a transit vehicle.
Some American public transportation agencies run bus fleets that consume on average a gasoline-equivalent 25 miles per gallon. This means — and this must be interpreted literally — that there are plenty of cars that, when driven from one point to another, are less carbon-intensive even with only one passenger than buses running the same route.
This fact is a disappointing one for transit advocates who would promote the idea that transit is, on face value, always more ecologically conscious than private transportation. It is a letdown to discover that the simple formula — more people
Continue reading Improving Environmental Efficiencies in Transit »