December 14, 2021
Chair Charles Allen
Transportation Planning Board
777 North Capital Street
Washington, DC 20002
Re: TPB Climate and Transportation Study Findings
Dear Chair Allen and members of the TPB:
The findings from your climate and transportation study are clear:
- The region can achieve necessary levels of greenhouse gas reductions under its adopted 2030 climate plan.
- We cannot depend solely on electric vehicle adoption and a cleaner grid.
- The region must reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled by 15 to 20% by 2030.
- This can be done through a feasible and comprehensive approach of transit-oriented and walkable land use, meeting our housing goals, expansion of transit service and improved access to transit, and pricing tools.
- These solutions provide many additional benefits to the region’s equity, safety and livability.
- You must begin acting now in order to meet critical 2030 goals.
Further explanation of these points:
To meet COG’s adopted climate plan and achieve its minimum level of GHG reductions from cars and trucks:
- Focus on 2030 targets. Cumulative greenhouse gas emissions matter, and short-term targets are essential. Kicking the can down the road to 2050 will result in disaster.
- Region must reduce per capita VMT by 15-20% by 2030, even with ambitious EV adoption and a clean electric grid
- Only the COMBO.2, 3, 4 strategies sufficiently reduce emissions.
- VT.2 scenario, while perhaps desirable, is not realistic – it would depend on the DC region surpassing California in electric vehicle adoption.
- This means that the region must begin implementing mode shift MS.1 and MS.2 or similar strategies in the next few years.
- These strategies include: enhanced transit, ped/bike, transit-oriented development, regional housing targets, TDM, and road usage fees/congestion pricing on existing lanes.
- MS.1 and MS.2 strategies improve travel for everyone, more effectively than highway expansion. Many if not all of the expensive proposed highway expansion projects are not only unnecessary and wasteful (especially given the necessary changes in travel demand and mode share) and these projects would also undermine the region’s climate efforts.
- Local governments and regional bodies must lead the way now. The region can’t depend on Richmond or Annapolis to implement its 2030 climate plan given the stated policy priorities of the governors.
- TPB’s work plan for the coming year must develop actionable strategies – The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), currently being drafted by staff, must quickly take these findings and turn them into actionable proposals that TPB Board members can adopt and include in the next Visualize 2045 update due to be completed by 2024.
- Current Visualize 2045 update must set performance targets for reducing VMT and GHGs. This means not just tracking performance measures as in past plans but also setting targets for needed outcomes consistent with the climate study findings:
- 15-20% reduction in per capita VMT by 2030 relative to 2018
- 32-50% GHG emissions reductions by 2030 relative to 2005
We have a responsibility to act.
Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director
Bill Pugh, Senior Policy Fellow
*Terms: VT = vehicle technology; MS = Mode shift; TSMO = Transportation Systems Management & Operations