This week’s post is by Edward Burgess, coauthor of Environmental Defense Fund’s new report Reinventing Transit.
Last week, Congressman James Oberstar, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was slated to speak at the launch of EDF’s new report Reinventing Transit — but he got stuck in traffic! The irony was not lost on one commenter in the StarTribune.com blog who noted, “You couldn’t ask for a better footnote to the report.”
Watch our report video showing how people across the country are getting on board these innovative transit systems.
Editor’s note: Yep, that video’s changed places. Our embedding system is acting up, so here’s the video on YouTube.
Oberstar’s absence was a clear illustration of how traffic congestion is sapping time and productivity across the country. Cars stuck in traffic don’t just waste time, but they also waste fuel. This has consequences for the environment in terms of health and global warming. In fact, about a quarter of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and trucks (see graph of breakdown of transportation sector).
The good news is that communities around the country are developing a new generation of more efficient, more affordable travel options that give people the opportunity to leave their car at home, thereby reducing both traffic congestion and global warming pollution.
Using modern approaches with new technology and infrastructure, transit can be tailored to its surroundings. Even in suburbs like Virginia’s Prince William County, and California’s San Joaquin valley, services such as flex-bus routes and van pools can be used serve more dispersed communities.
For our report, EDF picked examples that we thought captured the breadth and variety of modern transit in America — a snapshot of communities designing successful, creative solutions to match their needs. These examples demonstrate the faster, more reliable transit service possible today, as well as the emerging industries they support in manufacturing, construction and operation (see Portland streetcar manufacturing). These systems are also increasingly popular, showing large ridership increases in recent years. For example, Eugene, Oregon’s new EmX Bus line has already surpassed its 2020 ridership projections.
In addition to the report, EDF has created a new Reinventing Transit blog to continue the discussion and add new projects as time goes on.