CSG Comments to TPB on Climate Action

October 21, 2020 

Hon. Kelly Russell  

Chair, National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board 

President Pro Tem, Frederick Board of Aldermen 

Re: Comments on need TPB climate action steps, travel survey, and transit-oriented centers  Dear Chair Russell, 

We are deeply concerned that TPB staff are not committing to VMT-reduction strategies in their input to  the update of the COG climate plan. We have submitted comments to the CEEPC that apply equally to  our input to the TPB Visualize2045 update. 

TPB’s climate approach, as outlined in the October 15 memo by director Srikanth, is to focus on fuel  efficient car standards, vehicle electrification, and the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI). Of the  “bold, system-wide actions” the memo says are needed, there is no mention of regional strategies to  reduce VMT. As detailed in the Driving Down Emissions report by SGA, EVs are not enough, and land use,  urban design, and transit are essential for reducing VMT and transportation emissions, meeting our  climate targets, and achieving equity, public health, and livability. 

COG is setting a very ambitious goal for electrification in its draft climate plan, assuming that 34% of  light passenger vehicles on the road in 2030 will be electric. California’s analyses show that even with  significant adoption of EVs, rising VMT will cause rising emissions. Therefore, the CEAP and TPB need  additional bold actions:  

1. Set even stronger targets for housing and job growth in High-Capacity Transit (HCT) station  areas by prioritizing close-in, walkable, mixed-use Activity Centers with high-frequency transit,  and addressing the E-W economic and racial divide. 

2. Make affordable housing in TOD locations a key part of the land use strategy, with specific goals  and strategies. 

3. Set clear targets to significantly reduce total and per capita VMT below the 2030 and 2050  baselines and increase non-auto mode shares well above baselines.  

4. Include strategies to price existing lanes in congested travel markets rather than adding more  HOT lanes and price parking across the region. 

Your Travel Survey highlights the benefits of transit-oriented communities. The Core and Activity  Centers have very high commute walk, bike, transit mode share, and very good non-commute mode  shares. But major suburbs still have far to go on TOD, and recent road expansions are not helping. 

We commend your Transit-Oriented Communities initiative, but urge you to place overwhelming priority  in Visualize 2045 on transit, local street networks, and bike/pedestrian infrastructure, while slashing  new highway capacity. We have just one decade to act on the climate crisis. 

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director