Letter: Recommendations for TPB greenhouse gas reduction strategy implementation study

To: Erin Morrow, TPB 
CC: Amy Garbarini, TPB Technical Committee chair; Mark Moran and Dusan Vuksan, TPB; Michael Grant, ICF
From: Bill Pugh, AICP CTP 

CSG is glad to see this study is finally proceeding and its consideration of additional promising strategies. Here we offer our recommendations on strategies for TPB and its consultant to consider:

ICF and TPB staff’s recommended list of 5 additional strategies for assessment 

The five proposed strategies will provide useful information. Here are recommendations to consider with some of these:

  • Implement employer-based parking cash-out program requirements – In addition to employer-based requirements, especially given the rise of teleworking/hybrid schedules, the study must also assess the impact of unbundling residential off-street parking from housing. rent, purchase price, and association fees. The two strategies are especially effective when implemented hand-in-hand. This could also be studied as part of “Adjust parking requirements and urban design guidelines.”
  • Reduce VMT associated with school-based trips – assess benefits from reduced idling and congestion associated with school drop off/pick up and the health benefits of active transportation, fiscal and environmental (stormwater, heat island, land consumption) benefits of reduced off-street parking and driveway areas, financial benefits for college and university students in particular.  
  • Incentivize e-bike adoption – include an assessment of how significant enhancement of on- and off-street bicycling facilities increases utilization, as some cities have experienced.

ICF menu of potential additional strategies for study

While most of these are worthwhile, CSG in particular supports studying:

  • Support Convert fixed transportation fees into mileage-based fees – FHWA has ​great work on some strategies in this area, recently presented at TransportationCamp DC and TRB under “State-Level Transportation Repricing for Carbon Reduction and Equity Toolkit” and “Parking Strategies Complementary to Road Usage Charges.”
  • Adjust parking requirements and urban design guidelines – this could include unbundling of residential parking from rents, etc.
  • Expand the rail system – This would only provide a useful analysis if assessed with the transit-oriented land use (shifting growth in housing and jobs to HCTs and RACs) and a major reduction in the highway and arterial capacity expansion and interchange projects in Visualize 2045as. TPB has assessed an all-of-the-above scenario before, and, in addition to being wildly expensive, it also didn’t perform that well.  

One strategy that does not appear to be promising for GHG reduction in a relevant timeframe and we don’t recommend study: 

  • Promote the deployment of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) – numerous studies have shown that these may drastically increase VMT, and a recent MIT study shows the energy needs for data processing could be astronomical.

Strategies that do not need study at this time

We recommend shifting study resources from these strategies (not longer being considered in the region’s current policy environment) to enable study of other more promising ones:

  • Make all public rail transportation in the region fare-free by 2030
  • Convert a higher proportion of daily work trips to telework by 2030 and beyond
  • Make all public bus transportation in the region fare-free by 2030
    • While working very well in some local systems such as DASH and may have promise in some others, this also requires network redesign and service restructuring for effectiveness. 
    • At the regional level, a higher-priority would be implementation of the Metrobus Better Bus initiative.

Other strategies to consider

Please consider these other strategies:

  • Scaled up IncenTrip App (CommuterCash) type traveler incentive program – should study the impact of significantly scaled up participation given effective marketing and incentives.
  • HOTTER lanes – High Occupancy Transit and Tolls on Existing Right-of-Way – concept that has also already been modeled here in the DC region. 
  • 10-min. video presentation on its application to I-270 at the TRB annual meeting
  • Journal of the American Planning Association article “A Sustainable and Equitable Approach to Financing Multimodal Transportation Alternatives in Metropolitan Areas” 
  • Michael Replogle at ITDP (michael.replogle@itdp.org) can provide more information. 
  • Incentives for foregoing vehicle ownership – Various places in Europe, such as Brussels, have implemented or are studying incentives for residents who give up a private vehicle. This may be tied to other benefits (free or discounted transit passes). 

Importance of Lifecycle GHG emissions

The analysis should be sure to examine the lifecycle emissions reductions benefits (e.g., vehicle manufacturing) as well as strictly operating emissions.