Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

Cool the planet with transit

Three Best Practices documents examine the potential of transit to shrink our carbon footprint

hifting from a highway-centered federal transportation focus to one centered around transit is explored in a U.S.PIRG document. The specific greenhouse gas savings from using transit is explored in another document. Finally, the national numbers behind greenhouse gases are explored in a FTA presentation.

A Better Way to Go: Meeting America’s 21st Century Transportation Challenges with Modern Public Transit (2008)

This report by Phineas Baxandall for U.S. PIRG details why the time has come for a shift in America’s transportation priorities away from further investments in expanded highway infrastructure and toward investments in clean, efficient modes of transportation, with transit at the core.

The goal is to encourage creation of a vision of transit as a national priority, to draft a roadmap for future transit expansion and to identify the resources it will take to make that vision a reality.

The report calls for a national agenda that includes expansion of rapid transit networks in all major cities as well as in small and medium sized cities, linking cities via rail and setting goals and holding transportation agencies accountable.

"Rail, bus and other forms of transit benefit the American people in many ways — reducing our impact on the global climate, saving oil, curbing congestion and improving mobility and the quality of life in our communities," the report concludes.

Best Practices, climate, ligh trail, transit Portland Streetcar Economic Impacts – First Phase Carbon Footprint Benefits Modeling (2007)

This report by Eric Hovee, E. D. Hovee & Company, establishes a methodology with which carbon footprint savings can be illustrated for development-oriented transit on a district- or corridor-wide planning basis as well as for individual building or development projects.

Hovee's report distinguishes carbon emissions associated with transportation and development. An illustrative example from this initial modeling process indicates potential for a 41 percent overall savings in carbon footprint with high density urban development compared to a suburban alternative. This reflects a 55 percent savings in transportation and 31 percent in development footprint.

Transit and Reducing Greenhouse Gases: A Look at the Numbers (2008)

Tina Hodges, Program Analyst, Office of Budget and Policy with the Federal Transit Administration, gave this presentation at the Rail~Volution conference on Oct. 29, 2008.

Among other findings, the presentation explains that transit's land use effects have about twice as large an impact on reducing GHGs than mode shift. By facilitating compact land use, transit reduces driving trip distances and supports walking and biking. Combining transit and supportive land use policies offers synergies that increase each strategy’s impact.