» 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.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]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.[/pullquote]
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
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 »