CSG Comments: TPB June Meeting Comment

June 21, 2023

Hon. Reuben Collins
National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board
Washington, DC

Re: June agenda – Transportation climate resilience needs, GHG strategies study

Dear TPB Chair Collins and Board members, 

Climate change is here. Two weeks ago, we suffered through Code Purple air quality from increasing wildfires. The health of your constituents is at stake.

Transportation is our region’s number one source of greenhouse gas emissions, and you can do something about this. We need to act more urgently. We also need to act differently. We can’t afford a status quo transportation plan. 

Today there are two relevant and promising agenda items that I call to your attention:

#9 Military Installation Resilience Review 

While this is just for Northern Virginia military bases, it shows the enormous magnitude of climate resilience needs that our region as whole will face. The three bases require 129 action strategies, many needed for transportation. We are glad that TPB is analyzing this in its Resilience Phase II study. It’s really important that the TPB resilience study inform the financial plan for Visualize 2050. When I spoke with TPB staff recently, they weren’t sure how the Resilience Study would be coordinated with Visualize 2050.  TPB member agencies need to understand how to prioritize their spending, especially if they’re required to do zero-based budgeting and have a goal to be “climate ready” by 2030. 

#10 UPWP projects update, Further study on implementation considerations for identified greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategies

A year ago, TPB board members committed to slash emissions from cars and trucks by 2030 and voted to pursue 14 strategies. But beyond electric vehicles, TPB did not take any action to do more. Finally, a year later, TPB staff are moving these strategies forward, but with only a few years before 2030, this region needs to move faster. 

We ask that the TPB prioritize studying those strategies that member agencies have control over and that require regional coordination: parking cashout programs for workers, increasing housing production near transit and walkable activity centers, faster buses, accelerating and scaling up better walk and bike access to transit, and equitable road pricing. These strategies provide a range of benefits – safety, affordability, equity, health – and they are among the most cost effective emissions-reduction strategies when you consider those additional benefits. 

Transit Fiscal Cliff

Not on your agenda today, but critical for you to address is the transit fiscal cliff affecting all of our agencies but especially WMATA which faces a $750 million operating shortfall in FY25, rising to $1 billion in 2035. You must address this, because the alternative of draconian service cuts would end Metro’s role as an effective transportation mode, leading to more driving, traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced economic output. Just like budgeting for resilience in Visualize 2050, you need to budget for the transit fiscal cliff in Visualize 2050, to operate the transit we’ve already built and provide frequent, reliable service.

We need TPB’s leadership in this critical time.

Thank you, 

Bill Pugh, AICP CTP
Senior Policy Fellow