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48 I N T E G R AT I N G S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y I N T O T H E T R A N S P O RTAT I O N P L A N N I N G P R O C E S S KEY QUESTIONS DETERMINING THE FUTURE transportation has resulted primarily from technologi- OF SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION cal change. Dramatic reductions in tailpipe emissions per mile of driving have led to equally dramatic Indicators of Sustainability improvements in air quality in some of our most pol- luted metropolitan areas even as the number of trips A prerequisite to progress toward sustainable mobility and vehicle miles of travel have grown substantially. is the development of a set of quantitative indicators by Fleet fuel economy has improved as well, though per- which to measure progress over time. American society haps less dramatically, and improvement has been slow- already uses a wide variety of quantitative indicators of ing in recent years. These technological changes, of our well-being, and policy makers have become accus- course, are not independent of political decision mak- tomed to responding to notable shifts in indicators over ing. They are the result of regulation, mostly by the fed- time. The best examples of indicators on which we rely eral government but in some cases also by states, in policy making undoubtedly are economic indicators. particularly states like California, which have had Such variables as unemployment rate, consumer price severe environmental problems to address. Most believe index, housing starts, and numerous others are used reg- that changes in vehicle technology and fuels have been ularly to measure current conditions and changes in more influential than changes induced by regional trans- conditions over time. Interpretations of patterns among portation planning or changes in individual and house- these indices differ, of course, and such differences are hold behavior. It follows that government regulations the basis of policy debates. Indeed, the differences in affecting technology have been far more influential and interpretation and the differences in policy recommen- effective than government planning requirements or ini- dations suggested by the indicators are what make them tiatives to change travel or residential location behavior. most valuable. Indicators must be carefully chosen on Should we, as a group, conclude that past patterns are a the basis of their long-term policy relevance, inter- good predictor of the future, and therefore that the most pretability, and implications for the collection of rele- promising approach to sustainability is through techno- vant and accurate information. If useful sustainability logical change? Or should we conclude that the attain- and mobility indicators can be developed, they might ment of sustainability requires a dramatic escalation of eventually be used to test and model the likely impacts change and that technology alone will be unable to of different policies on indicator values and thereby to move us onto a path toward a sustainable transporta- interpret their impacts on sustainability. In the work- tion system? shops we might agree that sustainability indicators are Some will attempt to set limits on the role of techno- necessary to the development of policies that promote logical change in approaching sustainability on the basis sustainable mobility and that we might then concentrate of moral judgments and positions that are strongly held on the nature and content of appropriate indicators. for ideological reasons. I believe that technology will play The matrix introduced earlier makes it clear that a major role in sustainability policy because we are able some dimensions of sustainability, like GHGs, are most to identify changes in technology that will improve mobil- relevant because of their effects at the global scale. Oth- ity and enhance the quality of life while reducing the foot- ers, like noise, can really only be measured and con- print left by human activity on the natural environment. trolled effectively at the local scale. It would be helpful As long as this is the case, technology should and will for our workshops to recommend indicators that oper- play a central role in the pursuit of sustainability. ate at different levels and to discuss the sources of data But there are limits to our ability to rely on techno- that might be used to operationalize them. In the short logical change. We must note that some of the potential term, given the current state of evolution of transporta- benefits of improved engine efficiency and better fuel tion policy, the most important indicators of sustain- economy have been lost because manufacturers have ability are those that could be operationalized at the produced and consumers have opted to buy vehicles that state and national levels. Those indicators would deal have grown larger and that include many energy-con- with levels of mobility, energy and resource consump- suming options. The benefits of improved technology tion in transportation, and the production of GHGs and have, to some extent, been converted into larger, faster, other waste streams. and more luxurious vehicles rather than into vehicles having more modest performance features and dramat- ically improved fuel efficiency. Many American manu- Technological Changes facturers, instead of focusing on smaller cars that are dramatically more fuel efficient, are promoting their Most observers of transportation planning and policy forthcoming entries into the market for hybrid vehicles agree that most of the progress made in the past 40 years as bigger and more luxurious cars that get the same fuel toward lessening the environmental damage done by economy as smaller cars.
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W H AT A R E T H E C H A L L E N G E S T O C R E AT I N G S U S TA I N A B L E T R A N S P O RTAT I O N ? 49 Regulation Versus Market Forces choices through the Employee Commute Options Pro- gram and, for example, attempted to "cash out" free One of the ongoing debates in American policy making parking. While these initiatives have often been techni- is whether market forces are sufficient to bring about cally successful at a limited scale in improving vehicle technological and behavioral changes needed to achieve occupancies and shifting commuters in measurable environmentally responsible mobility and eventually to numbers to public transit or carpools, corporate and approach sustainability. Clearly, for example, as supplies political objections to such programs have caused them of energy become more limited prices will shift, and this to be viewed widely as less than successful, and in most will induce changes in consumption patterns and tech- cases eventually they have been abandoned. Should we, nologies. Key questions concern whether market forces as a group, conclude that the attainment of sustainable will be sufficient or whether they need to be coupled with mobility in the future requires more vigorous and direct federal and state regulations. In the past, the corporate regulation of travel decisions at the household and indi- average fuel economy regulations that were part of the vidual level, or should we conclude that such an Energy Policy and Conservation Act and the tailpipe approach is likely to be politically unacceptable in the emissions standards and National Ambient Air Quality United States for some time to come? It is my expecta- Standards required by the Clean Air Act Amendments tion that for the foreseeable future it will prove more have been controversial because they have attempted to appropriate and more feasible for political reasons to force technological change. The California Air Resources regulate vehicles, fuels, and emissions than to regulate Board, for example, last month introduced draft regula- personal or household choice making. tions in compliance with the state's S.B. 1493 that would Still, we need to learn to be more clever and subtle in require a reduction in vehicle carbon dioxide emissions our use of regulation to achieve intended social pur- starting in 2009 and amounting to a 30 percent reduc- poses. Jonathan Levine's research, for example, shows tion in new vehicles by 2015. The New York Times that more conservative Americans often assert that it is (Hakim 2004) recently reported that New Jersey, Rhode "market forces" and "personal preferences" that lead Island, and Connecticut are considering the adoption of us to prefer low-density single-family homes in areas similar regulations. characterized by single land uses. He disagrees, pointing The appropriateness of direct government regulation out that often market forces and household preferences versus greater reliance on market forces is a topic that actually would lead to higher densities and communities could lead to some lively discussions in the workshop consisting to a far greater extent of mixed land uses sessions. The case for centralized regulation has been except for the fact that they are excluded by zoning and well made over and over again by environmental and subdivision regulations prohibiting those land uses and political philosophers such as Garrett Hardin and Aldo requiring the traditional American suburban land use Leopold, who have shown that regulation is needed patterns. Those regulations were in many cases put into wherever resources are owned or controlled in common place decades ago to keep residences away from heavy on behalf of communities. While many government reg- industries. Today they inhibit rather than enhance our ulations have been highly imperfect and some can be ability to achieve more current versions of appropriate shown to have induced inefficiencies and inequities, it land use mixes that support sustainability. The lesson to seems inevitable that regulation will play a central role be learned is that regulation must be sensitive to the in our quest for sustainable mobility. The challenge need for a range of human choices. This may suggest before us is to devise regulations that complement other that the most appropriate regulatory strategies are those approaches to achieving sustainability and that mini- enhancing our choices among alternatives by focusing mize unintended negative consequences. A great deal of on performance measures related to policy outcomes analysis is needed in support of a program of regulation rather than those limiting our choices directly (Levine et that produces a substantial excess of benefits over costs. al. 2005). Direct Regulation of Travel Behavior Pricing In America, we have found it politically feasible to reg- The use of pricing to influence travel behavior is closely ulate vehicles and fuels, and these regulations have cer- related to the direct regulation of behavior, since one of tainly in turn affected consumer behavior. However, we the most direct ways of regulating behavior is through have shied away from measures that were seen to be the setting of prices. Many have advocated for decades regulating households and individuals more directly. that pricing transportation programs differently could Under the requirements of the Clean Air Act Amend- be among the most promising ways of approaching sus- ments, government attempted to regulate commuter tainability. Empirical evidence, particularly from inter-
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50 I N T E G R AT I N G S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y I N T O T H E T R A N S P O RTAT I O N P L A N N I N G P R O C E S S national experience, supports this expectation. Taxes on action when public policy does not demand or reward new vehicles in Europe and some Asian countries do such behavior. This variation in attitudes, commitment, result in lower vehicle ownership rates, even where and behavior is in need of deeper study and analysis. income levels exceed those in the United States. While Some believe that public education is the key to sustain- vehicle ownership rates are growing in most of those ability. Those holding this position cite precedents in countries, they remain substantially lower than in the other areas of American life for their belief that educa- United States. Consistently higher taxes on vehicle fuels tion can be enormously effective: the reduction of smok- in many other countries continue to be associated with ing, the rise in recycling, the reduction in drinking and the purchase of smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles driving, the adoption of "safe sex." than in the United States. And where vehicles and fuels Some promote "social marketing" or education as a are more expensive, higher proportions of trips are key to the eventual sustainability of our transportation made on public transit and by bicycle and walking than system. They argue that Americans are bombarded with are typical in the United States, even where incomes are advertising that, for economic reasons, encourages them comparable. Yet American policy makers have been to purchase larger and less fuel-efficient vehicles and to reluctant to attempt to price the externalities of trans- use them for more and more reasons (McGovern 2004). portation systems directly or even indirectly, or to use In contrast, in parts of Europe and Australia and most taxes as policy instruments for changing transportation recently in experiments in American cities such as Port- behavior. Should we, as a group, conclude that more land, Oregon (TravelSmart), willing households have vigorous pricing of transportation is necessary and had their travel choices "audited" by trained outsiders. appropriate to bring about sustainable transportation, Household members were helped to reorganize their or are we reluctant to promote that direction of change weekly travel to take greater advantage of public tran- in American policy? I expect that pricing strategies are sit, form trip chains that reduce the number of automo- becoming more politically acceptable than they have bile cold starts, combine the trips of household members been in the past, for three reasons that I have developed that were previously made independently of one elsewhere. First, there is an increasing need for revenues another, and forgo some trips entirely. Some see this in support of transportation programs as traditional type of educational activity as promising for at least two reliance on the fuel tax produces reduced revenue in reasons. The first is the direct shift in travel behavior relation to perceived needs. Second, the increasingly toward sustainable mobility that they hope it will help widespread deployment of a variety of automated and to bring about. The second is the fact that education computerized mechanisms by which to collect pay- will, perhaps more gradually, contribute to changes in ments, such as FasTrack and E-ZPass, is making it phys- public policy by making more aggressive approaches to ically easier to collect transportation system use-related regulation more acceptable in the political arena than charges in a variety of situations. Finally, growing famil- they are now. Others, of course, think that well-mean- iarity with prices and collection mechanisms is reducing ing experiments in consumer education are likely to concerns on the part of the public that such approaches result in little or no change in travel at the scale of our are improper or that they constitute violations of the entire society. Still others consider such an approach to privacy of the traveler (Wachs 2005). be completely misguided and doomed to fail, or worse, to interfere with individual freedom in a democratic society. Should we, as a group, conclude that wide- Individual Education spread consumer education is one of the more promis- ing approaches to the attainment of sustainable There is an enormous variation in travel behavior within mobility, or should we conclude that this view is well American society, and we may conclude that this varia- meaning but likely to be ineffective in the foreseeable tion results, at least in part, from widely different atti- future? tudes. A few, for reasons that vary from personal preference to deep moral commitment, have chosen to be carless. These individuals rely much more heavily Regional Planning than others on public transit, walking, and cycling. Oth- ers, who would not think of rejecting automobiles, own In the United States regional transportation planning has motorized vehicles but consciously choose fuel-efficient long emphasized the construction of transportation ones such as hybrid cars. Where such behavior does not capacity. As environmental, especially air quality, and unduly complicate their lives, they cycle, walk, or use social and economic impacts have become increasingly public transit for trips. Still others own multiple fuel- important concerns in regional planning, our long-range inefficient vehicles and regard it as irrational, futile, or transportation plans become more sophisticated, but they unnecessary to alter behavior through direct personal continue to emphasize capital investments in facilities.
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W H AT A R E T H E C H A L L E N G E S T O C R E AT I N G S U S TA I N A B L E T R A N S P O RTAT I O N ? 51 In other parts of the world, however, the nature of travel choices--make it far less cost-effective in the near regional transportation plans is changing more funda- term to embrace regional planning as a sustainability mentally. For example, regional long-range transporta- strategy than to focus on technological change. tion plans have been formulated that emphasize a long-term commitment to sustainability as a first princi- ple in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and in a large Conclusion number of European cities. Such plans go far beyond proposing new capital investments in corridors where In this paper I have offered several questions that I hope traffic volume is likely to grow. Some of these plans pro- can help structure the discussion that is to follow in our mote the redevelopment of older, formerly industrial or workshops. The questions are summarized as follows: military sites into high-density, mixed-use commercial and residential centers in proximity to public transit · Can progress toward sustainability in transporta- facilities. Many have adopted approaches to regional tion be achieved in the United States primarily through planning intended to reduce the geographic expansion technological changes in vehicles, power trains, and of metropolitan areas at their edges while promoting fuels? Is it cost-effective to rely primarily on technolog- higher densities at their cores. Some have set specific, ical approaches? and in a few cases ambitious, goals with regard to · Can changes in statewide and metropolitan plan- changes in modal split or decreased rates of growth in ning contribute in a meaningful way to sustainability? automobile travel and in the generation of GHGs. Often Are changes needed in land use and urban form at the these plans incorporate major capital investments in regional and neighborhood levels? Is basic planning travel modes other than the automobile. reform feasible to the extent that regional planning can In a number of cases, emulated in a few notable plan- contribute to sustainable mobility? ning activities in the United States, the effort to develop · Can American society, through education and regional plans has identified threatened or sensitive nat- marketing, achieve a sufficient shift to more sustainable ural areas and then worked toward plans that would modes of transportation, including walking, cycling, accommodate forecast growth while protecting those and public transit use, to warrant an increasing focus on environments. In other cases, planning models were such strategies in our approach to sustainability? used, as they have rarely been in the United States, to · Should pricing be used to a much greater extent to "backcast" rather than to forecast. That is, certain envi- internalize the externalities of transportation in order to ronmental and travel goals were developed for the tar- approach a more sustainable transportation system? get year of the plan, and the models were used to test · Can American transportation policy adopt more alternative policies and consequently to select policies direct approaches to regulating travel choices and that would lead to the desired outcomes (Wachs 2000). behavior? If such approaches are adopted, can they pro- Should we, as a group, conclude that regional plan- duce sufficient progress toward sustainable mobility to ning is of potentially great value in achieving sustain- make them worth the costs of undertaking? ability and recommend that the regional planning process be substantially overhauled in support of sus- Answers to these questions will be key to the sustain- tainability? The answer is not at all obvious. In the past, ability debate that will characterize American trans- planners and policy makers have urged that regional portation policy for many years to come. The questions plans pay much more attention to transportation sys- may have answers applying in the short term different tems management, travel demand management, mainte- from those applying in the longer run. At one level, they nance and renewal of the existing capital plant, and the can be answered rather superficially. It is, for example, systematic inclusion of telecommunications innovations possible to respond that the attainment of sustainable through a transition to intelligent transportation sys- mobility will require progress simultaneously in all of tems. Despite such urgings and many revisions to plan- the areas delineated by these questions. But it is not real- ning regulations included in the national highway istic to think that society can forge ahead with equal program, progress in reforming the regional transporta- vigor and with equal probability for success in all of tion planning process has been limited. We appear to be these dimensions. At the other extreme, it is equally pos- unable to achieve the dramatic institutional changes that sible to conclude that most progress made to date has would be needed to make regional planning more capa- been the result of technological innovation and change ble of addressing sustainability. Some of us may argue and that it is logical to presume that technological that a number of factors--the inertia in our existing change is the only promising path by which to approach planning apparatus, the inevitability of some of our sustainable mobility in America. In all likelihood, these population and travel trends, and a reluctance to two extreme positions are both unsatisfactory. Selecting embrace aggressive regulation of the use of land and of the right mix of approaches is in the end a complex tech-
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52 I N T E G R AT I N G S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y I N T O T H E T R A N S P O RTAT I O N P L A N N I N G P R O C E S S nical, political, and moral question. It requires that we Hakim, D. 2004. Much of Coastal U.S. May Follow Califor- consider what is feasible given American political orga- nia on Car Emissions. New York Times, June 11, online nization and values, but it also requires us to balance edition. what is internally feasible against what is likely to be Levine, J., A. Inam, and G.-W. Torng. 2005. A Choice-Based happening in the rest of the world. Rationale for Land Use and Transportation Alterna- I doubt that we will be able to come up with final tives: Evidence from Boston and Atlanta. Journal of answers to these questions in the discussions that fol- Planning Education and Research, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. low, and I expect that we will reconsider these questions 317330. many times over the coming decades. I hope that for- Lyons, W. M., S. Peterson, and K. Noerager. 2003. Green- mulating the questions in these ways is a useful contri- house Gas Reduction Through State and Local Trans- bution to the debate that will follow in our workshops portation Planning. Report DOT-VNTSC-RSPA-03-02. and in many other forums to come. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Cam- bridge, Mass. McGovern, E. 2004. Adopting Social Marketing Programs: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Can They Help Us Decide to Leave the Car at Home? Manuscript submitted to Transportation. I benefited greatly from comments made on an earlier Wachs, M. 2000. Refocusing Transportation Planning for the draft of this paper by Jennifer Dill, Richard Gilbert, 21st Century. In Conference Proceedings 20: Refocus- John Pucher, and Daniel Sperling. I owe several of the ing Transportation Planning for the 21st Century, ideas contained in this draft to their helpful suggestions. Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., pp. 190193. Wachs, M. 2005. Then and Now: The Evolution of Congestion REFERENCES Pricing in Transportation and Where We Stand Today. In Conference Proceedings 34: International Perspectives Banister, D., and J. Pucher. 2003. Can Sustainable Transport on Road Pricing, Transportation Research Board of the Be Made Acceptable? Presented at the 2nd Sustainable National Academies, Washington, D.C., pp. 6372. Transport in Europe and Links and Liaisons with World Business Council for Sustainable Development. 2004. America Focus Group Meeting on Institutions, Regula- Mobility 2030: Meeting the Challenges to Sustainability. tions, and Markets in Transportation, Santa Barbara, www.wbcsd.org/web/publications/mobility/mobility- Calif., May 1920. full.pdf.