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C O M M I T T E E F I N D I N G S A N D R E C O M M E N D AT I O N S 3 related sources of noise include engines, vehicle contact VISION OF A SUSTAINABLE with pavement and other surfaces, horns, construction, TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM brakes, and airplane takeoff and landing, to name a few. Loud noise and continuous noise are harmful to human What would a sustainable transportation system look health. The impacts include behavioral disorders, heart like? Outlining the basic components of such a system is disease, and hearing loss. Noise also disturbs wildlife. an important step in progressing toward sustainability, Studies of the breeding and habitat of birds have found even if the resulting vision is not entirely clear. that higher volumes of traffic affect the nesting patterns At the most basic level, a sustainable transportation of birds. Noise harms human health and wildlife and system is one that meets the transportation and other can damage the quality of life. needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In considering the needs of future generations, however, the benefits of the Low Mobility present transportation system should not be excessively inhibited or used as the justification for precluding future A reasonable level of mobility is an essential character- choices. Transportation planners and providers must istic of a sustainable transportation system. Mobility is continuously struggle with the trade-offs between the necessary for the nation's economy and for social and economic and societal benefits of transportation and the cultural interaction. Transportation must be available associated unsustainable environmental, safety, health, to all members of the community, including vulnerable ecosystem, and equity impacts. groups such as persons with low income, children, the A sustainable transportation system requires a cul- elderly, and the disabled. ture that not only sees sustainability as desirable but also accepts the inclusion of sustainability concepts in the transportation planning process and supports the Ecosystem Damage tough decisions necessary to make sustainability a pri- ority. The public and policy makers in this culture will Transportation activities can harm biological resources. understand and consider potential solutions, such as The effects can range from the death of individual animals integrated land use and transportation and innovative to the loss of critical habitat. Some impacts are localized, public transportation (for example, bus rapid transit such as animals killed along highways, disruption of and car sharing). migration patterns, runoff that pollutes rivers and streams, This cultural acceptance will be supported by the oil tanker spills, and plants affected by emissions. Other provision of adequate and reliable transportation fund- impacts are more profound, such as fragmentation and ing consistent with fiscal constraints. Legislators and loss of species and long-term damage to ecosystems. policy makers will recognize that a sustainable funding Improvements have been made with regard to the effects source is needed to meet current mobility needs while of transportation on ecosystems. For example, mitigation addressing the unsustainable effects of transportation. requirements for highways and other paved surfaces at In addition, transportation providers must be able to airports, seaports, and maintenance garages have greatly ensure that investments in transportation facilities have reduced runoff impacts. The Endangered Species Act has adequate operations and maintenance funding. provided significant protections. As population and travel A sustainable transportation system will have account- volume increase, a continuous effort must be made to ability in the planning process. Performance measure- maintain and improve on areas of success. ment and feedback loops will enable planners to learn from past experiences and understand fully the ramifica- tions of decisions on the components of sustainability. Lack of Equity Continuous improvement enabled through flexibility and innovation will be a key element of sustainable trans- Intergenerational and social equity are the overarching portation as travel patterns, vehicle and fuel technologies, aims of a sustainable transportation system. In reducing land use patterns, population densities, and individual the unsustainable impacts of transportation, as dis- travel choices change. cussed elsewhere in this section, progress toward an equitable transportation system would be made. The challenges to achieving a sustainable transporta- STATE OF THE PRACTICE tion system identified above provide a baseline for an action agenda that can lead to a sustainable transporta- On the basis of the ideas and issues addressed at the tion system. Properly planned transportation systems conference (and summarized elsewhere in these pro- can play a central role in promoting sustainability. ceedings), the committee developed a set of observa-