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90 Based on the background research conducted for this study, Chapter 5 described plausible transportation energy futures for the 2040 to 2060 time frame. Chapter 6 then discussed potential challenges for state DOTs that could emerge or inten- sify with some of the plausible futures. This led to the identi- fication and development of a series of strategies, presented in Chapter 7, that could help states mitigate specific impacts associated with certain plausible transportation energy futures or promote a more sustainable energy future. Chapter 7 also summarized strengths and limitations of the strategies based on more detailed analysis in Appendices I, J, K, L, and M. The preceding analysis sets the stage for developing, in this chapter, a framework to help state DOTs craft robust long- term plans to address an uncertain energy future. Given that some of the challenges for state DOTs identified in Chap- ter 6 could occur with certain plausible futures but not others, the framework begins by considering the broad question of whether and when to pursue strategies with the aim of miti- gating potential impacts or shaping a more desirable energy future. The logic rests on the principles of robust decision making, a methodology for effective long-term planning in the face of deep uncertainty (Lempert, Popper, and Bankes 2003). RDM recognizes that it can be helpful, where possi- ble, to defer certain policy decisions until more information about how the future is unfolding becomes available. The framework also examines which strategies appear to offer the greatest prospects for mitigating certain impacts or for influencing evolving transportation energy use patterns. This component of the analysis involves comparing the rela- tive strengths and limitations of the various strategies for different objectives of interest and considering how some of the strategies might complement one another or instead be largely redundant. The next section of this chapter describes in greater detail the methodology employed by the research team in creat- ing a framework to help state DOTs develop robust long- term plans. The next six sections then consider, in sequence, potential roles and timing for different strategies to stabilize or enhance revenue and reduce costs, to reduce traffic conges- tion, to improve traffic safety, to mitigate air pollutants and GHG emissions, to respond to increased demand for non- automotive travel modes, and to shape a more sustainable energy future. The final section integrates the results across the mitigation and shaping goals for a more comprehensive view of the robust planning framework. After outlining the general framework, Chapter 9 offers suggestions for how states might tailor some of the included strategies to meet their own specific needs. 8.1 Developing the Framework for Robust Long-Term Plans This section begins by discussing how the principles of RDM can provide insight into whether and when to pursue strategies with the aim of mitigating potential impacts or shaping future energy-use patterns. In the context of an uncertain future, the basic intent of RDM analysis is to minimize the prospects for regretâthat is, the chances of investing in a strategy that proves not to be needed given how the future unfolds, or alternatively, of failing to implement a strategy that would have been very helpful. The discussion then outlines the logic for determining the most promising set of strategies, from among a broader set of potential options, to use to address each of the mitigation and shaping objectives. This analysis draws on the assessment of strategy strengths and limitations summarized in the pre- ceding chapter. 8.1.1 Determining the Time Frame for Implementing Strategies Planning approaches that involve identifying the most likely future trends and then optimizing policy choices accordingly may perform poorly if the future evolves in an unexpected direction. To avoid this pitfall, RDM considers a wide array C H A P T E R 8 Framework for Robust Long-Term Plans
91 of plausible futures and then shifts the focus from develop- ing optimal plans to identifying robust plansâthat is, policy choices that can be expected to perform at least reasonably well regardless of how the future unfolds. Key RDM constructs aimed at facilitating more robust plans are: â¢ Shaping strategies. Actions intended to increase or decrease the likelihood of certain plausible futures unfolding. â¢ Mitigation strategies. Actions intended to mitigate the negative impacts that could result from certain plausible futures. â¢ Adaptive strategies. Actions that can be triggered by, or evolve in response to, new information about how the future is unfolding. â¢ Hedging strategies. Actions that, to be effective, must be implemented in the near term, even though there is some uncertainty as to whether the future will unfold in such a way that the actions prove to be valuable. â¢ Signposts. New information showing that a given future is either more or less likely, which may trigger the activation of an adaptive strategy. As suggested by this terminology, RDM is concerned with both the appropriate timing for policies and the degree of risk associated with taking action. A primary objective is to distinguish between actions that are worth pursuing in the near term and actions that can safely be deferred until more information about the future becomes available. The intent is to prepare adequately for the future while preserving as much flexibility as possible for planners in the future. In assessing candidate strategies aimed at mitigating some of the negative impacts associated with certain futures, the first question to consider is whether a strategy performs well, or at least benignly, across the full range of plausible futures. If so, then the strategy can be described as robust and appro- priate for near-term action with little chance of regret. If the strategy would be advantageous in some futures but a source of regret in others (for example, if the strategy required significant investment but proved to be largely unnecessary), then the next question to consider is whether it would be possible to defer action until more information about how the future is unfolding becomes available. Actions in this cat- egory, described as deferred or adaptive strategies, are trig- gered when signposts indicate an increasing likelihood that they will be helpful or necessary. In order to safely defer an action with little risk of regret, two criteria must be met. First, there must be one or more signposts capable of providing reliable indication that the future is indeed unfolding in such a manner that the strategy is likely to prove valuable. Second, the signpost(s) must offer sufficient lead time so that the action can be implemented and yield the intended effects within an acceptable time frame. In practice, these conditions are not always met. While a given strategy may be helpful in some futures and unneces- sary or even counterproductive in others, a lack of reliable signposts or a particularly long required lead time could pre- vent the ability to safely defer action. Such conditions make it necessary to choose whether to implement the strategy in the near term as a hedge against certain futures that may or may not unfold. This choice entails irreducible risk, posing a trade-off between the benefits of the strategy if the future unfolds in one direction and the costs or regrets associated with the strategy if the future unfolds in a different direction. Shaping strategiesâthat is, strategies intended to increase the likelihood of desirable futures or reduce the likelihood of undesirable futuresâalso entail a higher degree of risk and dis- cretionary judgment. To begin with, implementing a shaping action may fail to achieve the intended outcomes. For example, early state investment in alternative-fuel fleet vehicles could fail to stimulate adoption among the broader population. At the other end of the spectrum, it is possible that the desired future conditions would have been achieved even if the shaping strat- egy had not been implemented. Breakthroughs in battery tech- nology, for instance, might set the stage for broad adoption of electric vehicles even without state support for publicly acces- sible charging infrastructure. In short, shaping strategies carry the risk of being either ineffective or superfluous. Additionally, shaping actions aimed at promoting a more sustainable energy future may well accelerate other challenges for state DOTs, such as reduced fuel-tax revenue. Figure 8.1 presents the logic flow for applying RDM prin- ciples to distinguish between robust mitigation strategies that can be advised for near-term implementation with a low degree of risk, mitigation strategies that can be safely deferred and triggered adaptively in response to signposts with a low degree of risk, and hedging and shaping strategies that should be implemented in the near term if they are to be helpful at all, though doing so entails greater risk. 8.1.2 Prioritizing Strategies for Specific Objectives For any of the possible mitigation or shaping objectives, there are multiple strategies that DOTs might consider pursu- ing. To address traffic congestion, for example, options include new road capacity, improvements focused on more efficient goods movement, congestion pricing, intelligent transporta- tion systems investment, transportation system management and operations practices, transportation demand manage- ment, and transit investment. In addition to considering the appropriate timing of strategies for different objectives based on RDM principles, as described previously, the analysis also examined the question of which combination of strategies offers the greatest promise for each of the objectives. Drawing
92 on the assessment of the specific strengths and limitations of the possible strategies, as summarized in the preceding chap- ter, this stage of the analysis involved two steps: (1) identify- ing candidate strategies for each objective, and (2) ranking the strategies for each objective. Identifying candidate strategies for each objective. As described in the previous chapter, the strategies examined in this study have been grouped into categories for organiza- tional convenienceâspecifically, stabilizing or raising revenue, reducing DOT costs, improving auto and truck travel, improv- ing alternative modes of transportation, and promoting energy efficiency and alternative fuels. Many of the strategies, however, could play a role in addressing multiple mitigation or shaping objectives. For instance, congestion pricing could help reduce traffic congestion, reduce emissions, raise revenue, and reduce DOT costs (by allowing greater throughput on existing lanes and, in turn, reducing the need for new capacity investment). It was therefore helpful to begin by identifying the specific set of candidate strategies that states might consider for each of the possible objectives. In making this determination, the research team focused on strategies that could play a role in addressing a given objective and would also be viewed by states as logical choices for the objective in question. â¢ Relevance of strategies for each objective. In the assess- ment of the individual strategies considered in this study, among the factors included was the potential effectiveness in addressing each of the mitigation and shaping objec- tives. Possible ratings, as shown in the summary tables in the previous chapter, included highly effective, moderately effective, and not applicable. As the first pass in identifying the set of candidate strategies for each of the objectives, the research team included only those strategies rated as moderately effective or highly effective for the objective in question; strategies rated as not applicable for the objective were omitted from further consideration. â¢ Determining logical candidate strategies for each objec- tive. To further pare the number of candidate strategies for each of the objectives, the research team next considered whether a given objectiveâfor example, raising revenue or reducing trafficâwould be viewed by states as one of the primary motivating factors for implementing each of the potentially relevant strategies. As an example, increas- ing fuel-tax rates, by increasing the overall cost of travel, should have a modest effect on reducing travel and in turn traffic congestion. If a state chose to increase fuel-tax rates, however, the main motivation would almost certainly be to increase transportation funding; absent revenue short- falls, states would be unlikely to increase fuel taxes for the purpose of reducing traffic. Within this analysis, then, the strategy of increasing or indexing fuel-tax rates would be viewed as a candidate for stabilizing or increasing rev- enue but would not be selected as a candidate strategy for reducing traffic. Mitigation Shaping No No No Yes Yes Yes Strategies to mitigate impacts or shape future Strategy performs well, or benignly, for all plausible futures? Reliable signposts available to guide future action? Signposts provide enough lead-time to allow for deferred action? Near-term robust mitigation strategies (low risk) Deferred adaptive mitigation strategies (low risk) Near-term hedging and shaping strategies (higher risk) Figure 8.1. Logic for application of RDM principles.
93 strategies and do not perform as well for most policy goals of interest. For example, funding highways from general revenue is rated as a fallback alternative to various forms of user fees. Note that some of the strategies ranked in this grouping may not be viewed as desirable outcomes but rather would be the logical result of failing to take other policy action. Failure to increase sources of transportation funding, for example, could make it necessary for states to reduce the scope of DOT roles and responsibilities. Sequence of analysis. In the remainder of this chapter, strategy ratings are discussed for addressing the various miti- gation and shaping goals of interest. Because of the strong degree of overlap in relevant strategies, the analyses for some of the objectives are folded together (combining, for exam- ple, strategies to address revenue and cost concerns). The sequence of analysis for the various objectives is as follows: 1. Mitigation strategies for increasing revenue and reducing costs. 2. Mitigation strategies for reducing traffic congestion. 3. Mitigation strategies for improving safety outcomes. 4. Mitigation strategies for reducing air pollutant and green- house gas emissions. 5. Mitigation strategies for improving alternative travel modes. 6. Shaping strategies for future energy use and technology adoption. Note, finally, that the ratings applied to a given strategy may be different depending on the objective in question. For example, increasing fuel taxes could be rated as advisable in the near term to increase transportation revenue and as a poten- tially deferred strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in states where that goal is not currently prioritized but could become so in the future. A state that chooses not to implement a particular strategy for one objective might subsequently choose to do so for another. After rating strategies in the con- text of specific objectives, it is possible to combine the results to form an integrative, robust planning framework for addressing the multiple mitigation and shaping goals of interest in this study. This integration is presented at the end of the chapter. 8.2 Strategies to Mitigate Revenue and Cost Impacts First, potential strategies are considered for stabilizing or increasing revenue and reducing DOT costs. Declining fuel- tax revenue is viewed as highly problematic under all of the plausible futures outlined in this report, whether resulting from significant improvements in fuel economy for conven- tional vehicles or from a shift to alternative fuels. In contrast, increasing DOT costs based on higher oil prices is a less certain Ranking the strategies for each objective. After identi- fying candidate strategies for the different mitigation and shaping objectives, the research team sought to determine the most promising combination of strategies for each objective from among the broader set of options offering at least some merit. This involved the development and application of a relative ranking system based on the assessed strengths and drawbacks for each of the candidate strategies. As suggested in the discussion of the strategy assessments in the prior chapter, strengths include effectiveness in address- ing the specific objective of interestâfor example, improving traffic safety outcomesâalong with general benefits relating to the economy, environment and public health, and equity. Drawbacks typically involve barriers related to public accep- tance, financial cost, technical risk, required legislation, and the possible need for institutional restructuring. Through comparison of strengths and limitations, candidate strategies for each objective were grouped into three relative priority rankings: 1. Most-promising strategies. This ranking includes at least one strategy assessed as highly effective in addressing the specific objective in question, though the strategy may face high barriers as well. Congestion pricing, for example, is ranked as a most-promising strategy for reducing traffic congestion even though low public support remains a major barrier. Also included in this grouping are strategies that present a favorable relationship between assessed strengths and drawbacks (i.e., significant strengthsâpossibly relating to broader effects on the economy, environment and public health, and equityâand only modest barriers) that should complement the most effective strategies. For the goal of stabilizing or increasing revenue, for example, beneficiary fees could complement user feesâfuel taxes, tolls, mileage- based user fees, or registration feesâby broadening the tax base in an equitable manner to include additional parties who benefit from transportation investments. 2. Optional strategies. This next ranking applies to strate- gies that could also be helpful in addressing the objective but present less clear-cut trade-offs between strengths and weaknesses. Some offer significant strengths but also face major drawbacks; others present more moderate barri- ers but offer only modest benefits in return. Given these trade-offs, a decision to pursue any of the optional strat- egies will require a greater degree of discretionary judg- ment from policy makers. In the analysis that follows, the strategies with this ranking are divided into two groups: higher-impact optional strategies (higher benefits and barriers) and lower-impact optional strategies (lower ben- efits and barriers). 3. Fallback strategies. This final ranking applies to strate- gies that are generally redundant to the most-promising
94 and of similar tables for other objectives presented later, is that strategies are listed in the left column and grouped by rankingâmost promising, optional with higher benefits and higher barriers, optional with lower benefits and lower barri- ers, and fallback. The logic for the rankings is described later in the discussion of the tables. The next two columns indicate whether the strategy should have strong effects in the specific objectives of interestâin this case, raising revenue or reducing costs. Any strategy that is rated as highly effective for one of these goals is marked with a bullet in the corresponding column. Strategies without a bul- let are at most moderately effective in addressing these goals. The next column, âStrong E/EPH/E Effects,â indicates expected performance on the more general goals of economy, environment and public health, and equity. Here a bullet indicates that the strategy has a highly positive effect for at least one of these goals, while the absence of a bullet indicates at best moderately positive performance. The final column concerns the barriers associated with each of the strategies, including financial cost, low public support, technical risk, required legislation, and institutional restruc- turing. In this column, a bullet indicates that there are no significant barriers for the strategy. The absence of a bullet, in contrast, indicates that the strategy faces one or more major barriers. In summary, bullets across the columns denote the most desirable attributesâstrong effects for applicable policy goals outcome. Even if oil prices do not rise significantly, it seems unlikely that state DOTs would regret having taken action to reduce costs, especially those actions focused on increased efficiency. Strategies aimed at stabilizing or increasing rev- enue and reducing costs can thus be characterized as robust strategies for near-term action with considerable benefits and little risk. The main analysis tasks, then, are to identify an appropriate set of candidate strategies and, based on their strengths and limitations, distinguish between most promis- ing, optional, and fallback strategies. Strategies considered in this study that could have some effect on raising revenue or reducing costs were direct user fees (tolling or MBUFs), indirect marginal-cost user fees (fuel taxes), indirect fixed-cost user fees (registration fees), ben- eficiary fees, general revenue, private capital, increased cost- efficiency, reduced scope of DOT responsibility, congestion pricing, land use, pricing fuel or emissions (carbon pricing), state production and distribution of alternative fuels, and agency energy efficiency and adoption of alternative fuels. Of these, the production and distribution of alternative fuels by states were judged as being not highly relevant for revenue and cost concerns; this strategy, if adopted, would likely have different objectives. Table 8.1 summarizes the potential strengths and limita- tions of the remaining candidate strategies under consider- ation for raising revenue and reducing costs, along with the relative rankings for these goals. The organization of this table, Table 8.1. Ranking strategies to raise revenue and reduce costs. Strategies Strong Revenue Effects Strong Cost Effects Strong E/EPH/E Effects Low Barriers Most-promising strategies Fuel taxes Tolling or MBUFs Registration fees Beneficiary fees Greater efficiency Land use Higher-impact optional strategies Congestion pricing Carbon pricing Lower-impact optional strategies Private capital Agency energy use Fallback strategies General revenue sources Reduced scope of responsibility Note: E/EPH/E = economy, environment and public health, and equity.
95 derive value from transportation improvements in an equitable manner, offer another complementary strategy. Policies to improve the efficiency of state DOT operations are likewise generally advisable, though care should be taken to mitigate any equity concerns associated with cer- tain efficiency options (most notably the loss of employee benefits that can occur with some outsourcing decisions). Better integration between land use and transportation could also help reduce costs over the long term. â¢ Higher-impact optional strategies. Congestion pricing is rated as highly effective for raising revenue and reducing costs, and it also offers strong performance for the broader social goal of economic efficiency. At the same time, it faces significant public acceptance challenges. Given the avail- ability of other effective strategies aimed more specifically at revenue and costs, congestion pricing is ranked as an optional strategy with higher benefits and barriers rather than as a most-promising strategy. Carbon pricing is rated as highly effective for the broader social goal of improved environment and public health, and it could also provide some revenue for DOTs. (An economy-wide carbon pric- ing program would produce significant revenue, but the funding would likely be apportioned across many sectors.) Like congestion pricing, carbon pricing also faces major public acceptance barriers. â¢ Lower-impact optional strategies. Private capital could offer modest benefits for reducing costs and increasing the overall flow of funding into the transportation system and faces only moderate barriers. It is characterized as an optional rather than a complementary strategy because the choice to pursue a greater private role in funding transpor- tation may vary with state philosophical attitudes about the appropriate roles for the public and private sector. Efforts to improve agency energy efficiency also offer the potential for modest cost savings over time with relatively low barriers. â¢ Fallback strategies. This final category contains general rev- enue and reduced scope of responsibility for DOTs. While greater reliance on general revenue would be adequate to address funding needs, it does not perform nearly as well as the various forms of user fees for the general policy goals of efficiency and equity. Reducing the scope of DOT respon- sibility is likewise not viewed as a highly desirable option in most cases, but it could represent the default option for states that fail to offset declining fuel-tax revenue. 8.3 Strategies to Reduce Traffic Congestion Increasing traffic congestion is viewed as highly likely in many of the plausible futures identified in this report, although this concern is not equally applicable across all states. Traffic and low barriersâand the presence or absence of these bul- lets can be used to clarify the relative attractiveness of the options. Strategies that have bullets across all of the columns can be viewed as highly desirable. Strategies that only have bullets under the effects columns, in contrast, could offer significant benefits but also face higher barriers. Next, strate- gies that only have bullets in the last column would present relatively little downside, but also would offer only modest potential rewards. Finally, strategies without any bullets in any of the columns are not generally advised because they face high barriers but offer limited positive effects in return. This does not happen to be the case for any of the revenue and cost strategies discussed here, but it does occur for some strategies aimed at other objectives in later sections of the analysis. Based on the summary ratings in Table 8.1 and drawing upon more detailed findings from the strategy assessments in Appendices I through M, the logic for the relative rankings of these strategies is as follows: â¢ Most-promising strategies. User fees are highly desirable in terms of promoting efficient use of the transportation system and apportioning cost in a fair manner. Fuel taxes perform reasonably well in this regard and will remain a viable fund- ing mechanism as long as cars and trucks rely primarily on liquid fuelsâgasoline, diesel, ethanol, renewable diesel, and the likeâdistributed by wholesalers and dispensed at refu- eling stations. In the near term, then, a promising approach would be to increase or index existing fuel taxes to keep pace with inflation and improved vehicle fuel economy, adding in taxes for alternative liquid fuels as needed. At the same time, states might begin to plan for a potential transition to tolling or MBUFs, including weight-distance truck tolls, over the longer term. Such direct user fees are able to apportion the tax burden based on road use with even greater precision, and they would offer a more stable revenue source should other alternative fuels such as electricity, hydrogen, or natu- ral gas (all of which potentially allow for at-home refueling) begin to gain significant market share. As an alternative to tolls or mileage fees, states could consider higher registra- tion fees to account for alternative-fuel vehicles, although this approach does not perform quite as well in terms of promoting efficient system use. Fuel taxes, tolls, mileage fees, or registration fees could be augmented by container fees in states with major ports to fund multimodal freight investments, although it would be advisable to first conduct an analysis to determine whether such fees would induce shippers to shift to competing ports in other states. (Container fees are not listed in Table 8.1 but are included in the same strategyâindirect, marginal- cost user feesâas fuel taxes.) Beneficiary fees, which would spread the revenue base among other stakeholders who
96 â¢ Fuel prices remain stable even as vehicles, due to CAFE standards, achieve higher fuel economy, resulting in lower driving costs. â¢ Alternate fuel and vehicle technologies that offer low energy cost for driving, such as electric vehicles or natural gas, achieve significant market share. Of the strategies considered in this report, the following are rated as having at least a moderate effect on reducing traf- fic congestion: direct user fees (tolling or MBUFs), indirect marginal-cost user fees (fuel taxes), indirect fixed-cost user fees (registration fees), private capital, road expansion, goods movement improvements, congestion pricing, ITSs, TSM&O, traffic safety, TDM, public transportation improvements, and pricing fuel or emissions (carbon pricing). Among these, tolling or MBUFs, fuel taxes, registration fees, private capi- tal, traffic safety, and carbon pricing can be viewed as less relevant in the sense that they would more likely be adopted for other policy objectives instead. Table 8.2 summarizes the rankings, along with the benefits and barriers, for the remain- ing strategies. Drawing on the summary information on strengths and barriers along with more detailed analysis from the individ- ual strategy assessments presented in Appendices I though M, the logic for the relative rankings of these options is as follows: â¢ Most-promising strategies. Congestion pricing is by far the most potent available strategy for reducing traffic con- gestion, and it provides the additional benefits of raising is already a serious problem in many states with large metro- politan regions, it could possibly become a serious prob- lem in other rapidly growing states, and it may never be an issue in largely rural states not subject to growth pressures. As described in the future scenarios laid out in Chapter 5, it is also conceivable that some states might lose population in future decades, with corresponding declines in vehicle traffic. Given such uncertainties, congestion mitigation strategies are framed for the possibility of deferred action, although states that are already heavily congested may wish to pursue such strategies in the near term given the likelihood that the prob- lem will only worsen in the coming decades. With the possibility for deferred action, it becomes impor- tant to consider the signposts that might be used to trigger action at a later date as well as whether certain potentially helpful strategies have such long lead times that they would need to be implemented in the near term, under imperfect information, in order to contribute later. With respect to signposts, the following list suggests the types of indicators that could provide some early warning that traffic conges- tion appears likely to worsen; states may, of course, wish to develop their own indicators that are more relevant to local context. â¢ Dataâfor example, based on new housing permits or from population forecastsâsuggest that a stateâs population can be expected to grow in the coming years. â¢ VMT, after declining late in the first decade of this century, begins to rise again as the recession recedes. â¢ Freight flows begin to rise again as the economy recovers. Strategies Strong Congestion Effects Strong E/EPH/E Effects Low Barriers Most-promising strategies Congestion pricing Goods movement TDM Public transportation Higher-impact optional strategies ITSs Lower-impact optional strategies TSM&O Fallback strategies Road expansion Note: E/EPH/E = economy, environment and public health, and equity, ITSs = intelligent transportation systems, TDM = transportation demand management, TSM&O = transportation system management and operations. Table 8.2. Ranking strategies to reduce traffic congestion.
97 8.4 Strategies to Improve Traffic Safety Travel in the United States is safer than in many countries, but the numbers of crashes and fatalities on the nationâs road network are still dismayingly large. Aggressive steps to improve traffic safety are already underway. All states have adopted strategic highway safety plans and are working in concert with the FHWA to support a âTowards Zero Deathsâ national strategy on highway safety. Thus, safety can fairly be viewed as an issue that states are already prioritizing. In the context of the scenarios developed for this study, the main concern is not that the rates (e.g., per passenger mile) of crashes or fatalities appear likely to increase; indeed, safety rates should be improving in response to current state safety initiatives. Rather, it is that the total number of crashes and fatalities could rise based on the projected gains in passenger vehicle and truck travel in some of the plausible futures out- lined. In other words, even if ongoing state efforts are success- ful at improving traffic safety rates, this could be more than offset by the effects of greater traffic volumes. It could also be the case, although this is more specula- tive, that a shift to smaller passenger vehicles and larger trucks would lead to an increased rate in crash-related fatalities. (Note, though, that with CAFE standards now based on vehicle footprint, any shift to smaller passenger vehicles would reflect consumer choice rather than government regulation.) Another safety-related uncertainty is the future of autonomous vehicles. Although this study did not encompass analysis of the pros- pects for this technology, it appears that autonomous vehicles, if successful, could eliminate a significant share of the crashes that occur today. The question is how states might address the potential, though highly uncertain, risk of adverse safety outcomes stemming from significant increases in vehicle travel. While states are already prioritizing safety improvements, in many cases they are doing so within the context of highly con- strained budgets. The potential action considered, then, is to further increase the pace of investment in safety strategies, recognizing that such a course might require that states first increase transportation revenue in order to provide more funds. Of course, it is not certain that traffic volumes will increase in all states or that increased traffic would necessarily result in increasing the total number of crashes and fatalities. Faced with such uncertainty, states could reasonably defer a decision to accelerate investment in safety improvements until more information about the future emerges, although some states might still choose to take more immediate steps. Because crashes and fatalities, like traffic congestion, are likely to increase with greater vehicle travel, the same set of signposts used to trigger congestion-reduction strategies would also be appropriate for triggering safety strategies. Additionally, states revenue and using existing capacity much more efficiently. In areas where there is considerable congestion related to goods movement activitiesâfor instance, traffic backups due to at-grade rail crossingsâcongestion pricing could be complemented by goods movement strategies. And because congestion pricing could pose equity concerns, it would be sensible to include public transportation improvements and TDM programs as well. Fortunately, the revenue raised through congestion pricing could help fund these comple- mentary strategies. â¢ Higher-impact optional strategies. ITSs could be very helpful in reducing congestion through improved system efficiency and supporting other transportation goals over the long term, although they face considerable barriers in relation to financial cost and technical risk. â¢ Lower-impact optional strategies. TSM&O represents an option that could offer moderate benefits in reducing traffic congestion with relatively little downside. Note that TSM&O applications are generally quite effective but have already been applied in many of the congested urban areas where they would be most helpful. Additional investments in TSM&Oâeither to upgrade existing technologies or to deploy the technologies in new areasâare thus expected to provide moderate rather than significant benefits at the margin. â¢ Fallback strategies. Road building entails significant finan- cial cost but would be expected to provide only moderate traffic reduction benefitsâowing to latent and induced demandâand is thus ranked as a fallback rather than as a most-promising or optional strategy. Note that this rank- ing is not intended to imply that no new capacity should be built since certain individual projects will no doubt have highly favorable benefitâcost ratios. Rather, the idea is that providing new capacity as the first response to traffic con- gestion would not be expected to perform as well across a range of relevant policy considerations as other available options such as congestion pricing that would facilitate much more efficient use of existing capacity. States already facing significant congestion problems may of course wish to pursue these strategies in the near term. For states in which traffic congestion is not yet a major concern, many of the strategies can be safely deferred until signposts provide a clearer indication that traffic is likely to worsen considerably. However, three of the strategies discussed previouslyâroad building, goods movement improvements (a large share of which involve capital improvements), and ITSsâare likely to require long lead times. These must, therefore, be catego- rized as near-term discretionary hedging actions. That is, they must be initiated sooner rather than later if they are to be helpful in future decades, even if it is not yet certain they will be needed.
98 more-stringent air quality standards, for example, making it more difficult for states to achieve compliance. Alternatively, shifting attitudes on climateâpossibly in response to new information or events such as greater frequency of severe storms, floods, fires, or droughts with mounting economic costsâcould stimulate efforts to mitigate carbon emissions in states where this policy goal is not currently prioritized. Such outcomes, however, are not certain. Accordingly, strate- gies to reduce emissions, if not employed in the near term to promote a more sustainable energy future, could be deferred pending additional information or events. Examples of the types of signposts that states might rely on as indicators to trigger the implementation of strategies for reducing local air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions are: â¢ EPA air quality standards are further tightened, with the result that states find it more difficult to achieve compli- ance in some of their air basins. â¢ Petroleum remains the dominant fuel source, while increases in total vehicle travel outpace gains in fuel economy; emis- sions from highway travel thus continue to rise. â¢ Irrefutable and alarming evidence of severe climate change emerges (e.g., collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, lead- ing to significant sea level rise). â¢ Public polling within a state indicates majority support for more aggressive action to mitigate climate change. Of the strategies considered in this report, the following could have a positive effect in reducing air pollutant or green- house gas emissions: indirect marginal-cost user fees (fuel taxes), goods movement improvements, congestion pricing, ITSs, TSM&O, TDM, investments in public transportation, land use, pricing vehicles (feebates), pricing fuel or emissions (carbon pricing), alternative-fuel mandates and programs, state production and distribution of alternative fuels, and greater energy efficiency and alternative-fuel use within agen- cies. Of these, it is assumed that fuel taxes, congestion pric- ing, ITSs, and TSM&O, if implemented, would be principally motivated by other objectives; therefore, the ratings focus on might simply choose to monitor total crash and fatality sta- tistics and make the determination to increase safety invest- ments if these numbers begin to rise. Among the strategies considered in this report, those rated as likely to offer at least modest safety benefits were direct user fees (tolls and MBUFs), indirect marginal-cost user fees (fuel taxes), indirect fixed-cost user fees (registration fees), goods movement improvements, congestion pricing, ITSs, TSM&O, TDM, traffic safety, investments in public trans- portation, land use, and pricing fuel and emissions (carbon pricing). Of these, the vast majority would improve safety outcomes simply by reducing total vehicle and truck travel. The researchers view these as not being primary choices for safety since they would more likely be pursued for other rea- sons. Instead, the assessment focuses on four strategies that could help reduce the actual rate of crashes and fatalities: goods movement improvements, ITSs, TSM&O, and traffic safety policies. The strengths and limitations of these strate- gies are summarized in Table 8.3. Of these, the traffic safety and ITS strategies offer the great- est potential safety benefits. Goods movement and TSM&O offer complementary safety benefits spanning trucks, rail crossings, passenger vehicle travel, and non-automotive pas- senger travel and thus are also included in the most promis- ing category. Note that ITSs and goods movement both entail long lead times and, as such, fall into the category of near- term discretionary hedging strategies; only the traffic safety and TSM&O strategies can be safely deferred. 8.5 Strategies to Reduce Harmful Emissions The strategies that states might consider to mitigate future challenges related to air quality and greenhouse gas emis- sions are similar to those that might be employed in the near term with the intent of shaping a more sustainable energy future, as discussed later in this chapter. For states not seek- ing to pursue such measures now, there could be increased pressure to do so in the future. The EPA could promulgate Strategies Strong Safety Effects Strong E/EPH/E Effects Low Barriers Most-promising strategies Traffic safety ITSs Goods movement TSM&O Note: E/EPH/E = economy, environment and public health, and equity, ITSs = intelligent transportation systems, TSM&O = transportation system management and operations. Table 8.3. Ranking strategies to improve traffic safety.
99 improved efficiencyâis to reduce air pollution around ports and major trade corridors as a matter of environmental jus- tice. TDM, in turn, offers a reasonably low-cost approach to facilitating a shift from solo-occupancy driving to lower- carbon travel options such as ridesharing, vanpooling, and telecommuting. Finally, land use reforms would promote denser development more supportive of public transporta- tion, walking, and bicycling as alternatives to vehicle travel. â¢ Higher-impact optional strategies. The two strategies with this ranking are alternative or low-carbon fuel mandates and programs and investments in public transportation. Fuel mandatesâsuch as the federal RFS and Californiaâs LCFSâ represent an alternative to carbon pricing in the sense that both aim to promote a transition to lower-carbon renew- able fuels. Whereas carbon pricing harnesses market forces to identify the most efficient ways to reduce emissions, fuel mandates instead rely on government regulations that may be structured to specify the production of certain quanti- ties of certain types of fuel. Fuel mandates do not guarantee the most efficient outcomes, but to date they have proven to be more politically feasible than carbon pricing. For a state that chooses to implement carbon pricing, however, fuel mandates could be viewed as redundant. With its carbon cap-and-trade and LCFS programs, however, California has chosen to employ both strategies in parallel. With that prec- edent in mind, fuel mandates are ranked as a higher-impact optional strategy rather than as a fallback strategy. Public transportation improvements could help reduce petroleum consumption and emissions by encouraging a shift from driving to transit and other modes. The cost of the remaining alternatives. The expected performance of the strategies is summarized in Table 8.4. Drawing on the strategy assessment information within the table along with the more detailed analyses in Appendi- ces I through M, the ratings and corresponding logic for the potential strategies to mitigate air quality and reduce green- house gas emissions are as follows: â¢ Most-promising strategies. Feebates and carbon pricing offer the strongest effects for improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Feebates would cre- ate a strong incentive for consumers to adopt vehicles with higher fuel economy, while carbon pricing would encour- age lower-carbon fuels on an ongoing basis. For example, plug-in hybrid owners would have an incentive to rely on electricity rather than petroleum for as much of their travel as possible, while owners of flex-fuel, diesel, natural gas, and hydrogen vehicles would have a greater incentive to shift to renewable or lower-carbon sources of the respec- tive fuels. Because a carbon tax would likely be applied across multiple sectors, it could also offer major air-quality benefits by motivating the replacement of legacy coal-fired power plants with natural gas plants or wind, solar, or other sources of renewable power. Feebates and carbon taxes could be well complemented by goods movement improvements, TDM investments, and land use reforms to promote more compact, mixed-use development patterns. While many of the policies included within the goods movement strategy would entail consider- able expense, one of the core aims of the strategyâbeyond Table 8.4. Ranking strategies to reduce emissions. Strategies Strong Air Quality Effects Strong GHG Reduction Effects Strong E/EPH/E Effects Low Barriers Most-promising strategies Feebates Carbon pricing Goods movement TDM Land use Higher-impact optional strategies Fuel mandates and programs Public transportation Lower-impact optional strategies Fuel production and distribution Agency energy use Note: E/EPH/E = economy, environment and public health, and equity, TDM = transportation demand management.
100 they are likely be needed. Examples of the types of signposts that states might rely on to trigger efforts to improve alterna- tive travel options are: â¢ Increases in the price of oil outpace fuel economy gains, and lower-cost alternative fuels and vehicle technologies fail to emerge, leading to higher energy costs for vehicle travel. â¢ Greater consensus on the importance of reducing GHG emissions emerges, leading more households to seek alter- natives to automotive travel. â¢ Traffic congestion increases significantly once the econ- omy fully recovers. The strategies considered in this report that could play a potential role in improving alternative travel options are congestion pricing, ITSs, TSM&O, traffic safety, TDM, public transportation, and land use. Note that this list includes some strategies, such as congestion pricing, that would mainly improve bus transit options by virtue of reducing traffic con- gestion and in turn speeding bus travel. Other alternatives listed could affect a broader range of alternative travel modes in additional ways, and all are viewed as potentially helpful and applicable. The strengths, barriers, and rankings of these strategies are summarized in Table 8.5. Based on the high-level strengths and barriers of the strat- egies summarized in the table, along with the more detailed strategy analyses in Appendices I through M, the logic for the strategy rankings is as follows: â¢ Most-promising strategies. Public transportation invest- ments, TDM, and land use are all expected to offer strong benefits for improving alternative modes of travel. Although making significant public transportation improvements is rated as high, however, and it is unclear that such improve- ments, on their own, would be enough to stimulate pro- portional shifts in travel choices. This motivates a ranking of optional rather than most promising. â¢ Lower-impact optional strategies. This category includes state production and distribution of alternative fuels and energy efficiency and use of alternative fuels by agencies. Both of these face relatively low barriers but also can be expected to yield only modest emissions-reduction benefits in return. Among these most promising and optional strategies, goods movement and land use require long lead times. There- fore, they should be implemented in the near term, if needed, as discretionary hedging actions to play a helpful role in reducing emissions in the coming decades. 8.6 Strategies to Improve Alternative Travel Modes The final potential mitigation goal involves improving alternative modes of travel. This would be applicable if the demand for non-automotive alternatives were to rise rapidly in the coming years in response to much higher energy costs for travel or perhaps as part of concerted societal effort to adopt lower-carbon modes of transportation. It is also pos- sible that significant worsening of traffic congestion could lead many travelers to seek alternatives to sitting in traffic. Because such outcomes are not certain, it should be safe to frame the possible policy options as adaptive strategies that could be triggered in response to information indicating that Strategies Strong Effects on Improving Alternate Modes Strong E/EPH/E Effects Low Barriers Most-promising strategies Public transportation TDM Land use Traffic safety Higher-impact optional strategies Congestion pricing ITSs Lower-impact optional strategies TSM&O Note: E/EPH/E = economy, environment and public health, and equity, ITSs = Intelligent transportation systems, TDM = transportation demand management, TSM&O = transportation system management and operations. Table 8.5. Ranking strategies to improve alternative travel modes.
101 In this study, however, the utility of shaping actions is more complicated. To begin with, the role of a single state in shap- ing future energy use and technology adoptionâfactors that will be influenced by major national and international pol- icy frameworks, private and public investment choices, and unpredictable technology advancesâis likely limited. If mul- tiple states were to act collectively, then their combined level of influence would be greater, but decision makers within one state may not be certain, in advance, of the intended actions of other states. In short, the ability of state shaping actions to achieve their intended objections is far from ensured. It is also possible that the desired transition to a more sus- tainable energy future might occur regardless of the actions taken by a state. In this case, any cost and effort invested in shap- ing actions could be viewed as superfluous. Finally, assuming that state shaping actions prove helpful and do succeed in their aims, the development of affordable and lower-carbon alterna- tive fuels could exacerbate other challenges faced by DOTs such as diminishing fuel-tax revenue. (On balance, this may not be viewed as a negative since it should correspond to a range of improved social and environmental outcomes and states will likely need to address revenue challenges in any event, but it is still worth noting.) For all of these reasons, energy shaping strategies are char- acterized in this study as entailing a higher degree of risk. In states with a strong interest in promoting environmental sustainability, near-term implementation of energy shaping strategies would be a sensible choice. In states where the rela- tive prioritization of environmental goals is lower, choosing not to pursue energy shaping strategies could also be a ratio- nal choice for decision makers. Some potential objectives of shaping future transportation energy outcomes are reducing aggregate petroleum consump- tion, promoting the development and adoption of lower- carbon alternative fuels, and supporting more affordable energy costs for travel. Of the strategies examined for this study, the following are likely to have either a moderate or a strong effect for one or more of these objectives: pricing vehicles (feebates), pricing fuels or emissions (carbon pricing), alternative-fuel mandates and programs, state production and distribution of alternative fuels, energy efficiency and use of alternative fuels by agencies, indirect marginal-cost user fees (fuel taxes), congestion pricing, ITSs, TSM&O, TDM, public transporta- tion investments, and integrated land use. Of these, however, congestion pricing, ITSs, TSM&O, and TDM were judged to be not highly relevant in the consideration of energy shap- ing approaches; if implemented at all, these strategies would more likely be aimed at different objectives, such as reducing traffic. Table 8.6 summarizes the potential benefits, barriers, and rankings associated with the remaining strategy options. Based on the relative strengths and barriers summarized in the table along with the more detailed strategy assessments public transportation investments face a high barrier in rela- tion to financial cost, the strategy could result in significant transit system improvements. TDM, in turn, can be very effective in supporting alternative commuting options, while land use reforms aimed at denser mixed-use develop- ment patterns would help make transit, biking, and walking more attractive and viable. These strategies could be com- plemented by additional investments in traffic safety poli- cies, many of which would improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians in addition to vehicle occupants. â¢ Higher-impact optional strategies. Congestion pricing and ITSs could also offer strong benefitsâspecifically, by improving the flow of traffic and in turn enhancing bus transitâthough they also face greater barriers in terms of public opposition, financial cost, and technical risk. Note that congestion pricing would also raise significant revenue, some of which might be invested in transit improvements. â¢ Lower-impact optional strategies. TSM&O would also offer important benefits, such as enabling signal prioritiza- tion to improve bus service. Because TSM&O has already been implemented in many urban regions, however, the marginal effects of further investment are expected to be more moderate; fortunately, the barriers for TSM&O are lower as well. Note that of the strategies included in this section, both land use and ITSs are rated as requiring long lead times. They would thus need to be implemented as near-term hedging strategies to have much effect in improving alternative travel modes over the next several decades. This entails some degree of risk since greater demand for alternative travel modes is associated with some plausible futures but not others. 8.7 Strategies for Shaping Future Energy Outcomes The preceding sections focused on strategies for mitigating potential impacts associated with certain plausible transpor- tation energy futures. In this section, the discussion shifts to strategies that states might pursue with the intent of shaping a more sustainable energy future. As background, robust decision making generally begins, as it does in this study, with the identification of potentially adverse consequences associated with certain plausible futures. Based on an understanding of such consequences, decision makers can then consider the application of shaping actions intended to increase the likelihood of desirable futures or decrease the likelihood of more unfavorable futures. Assum- ing that such actions are possible and highly likely to be effective, it is then reasonable to reduce the set of potentially negative future outcomes that might need to be addressed through mitigative actions.
102 in promoting a more sustainable energy future, though the barriers are correspondingly low. 8.8 Integration of Robust Strategies The preceding sections presented and ranked strategies for a series of mitigation and shaping objectives. It is now possi- ble to integrate the results across objectives to provide a more comprehensive framework to assist state DOTs in developing robust long-term plans in the context of an uncertain energy future. This framework is shown in Table 8.7. The framework encompasses: â¢ Near-term strategies for addressing highly probable impacts (declining revenue with a possibility of higher DOT costs), â¢ Deferred adaptive strategies and near-term hedging strate- gies to address less-certain impacts (increased traffic conges- tion, more crashes and fatalities, greater difficulty in meeting air quality standards, more pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increased demand for alternative trans- portation modes), and â¢ Near-term shaping strategies to influence future transpor- tation energy outcomes. Note that some strategies appear in multiple categories, reflecting the fact that a strategy can be helpful in addressing more than one objective. In the table, the strategies for each objective are grouped into the categories of most promis- ing, optional high impact, and optional low impact. (Fall- back strategies are not shown here.) As discussed earlier, near-term mitigation strategies to address highly probable impacts along with deferred adaptive strategies to mitigate uncertain impacts on an as-needed basis can be characterized in Appendices I through M, the logic for the rankings is as follows: â¢ Most-promising strategies. As discussed previously, energy shaping strategies pose an inherently higher degree of risk for states. To reduce the risk as much as possible, the most promising energy-shaping strategies are those that offer significant benefits but only face modest barriers, such as feebates, fuel taxes, and land use. Assuming that fees on vehicles with lower fuel economy and rebates on vehicles with higher fuel economy are increased over time, feebate programs could accelerate a shift to vehicles with higher fuel economy, helping to reduce total petroleum consump- tion and reduce the energy cost of travel. Fuel taxes would also stimulate a reduction in petroleum use and could create more opportunity for alternative fuels to succeed. As an additional benefit, higher fuel taxes would also help to address revenue shortfalls. (Note, though, that fuel taxes would not support the objective of lowering the energy cost of travel.) Finally, land use reforms aimed at denser mixed- use development patterns should translate to a reduction in per-capita vehicle miles of travel and, in turn, aggregate petroleum consumption. â¢ Higher-impact optional strategies. Higher-impact optional strategies are carbon pricing, alternative-fuel mandates and programs, and investments in public transportation. While these offer a range of potential energy-shaping benefits, they also face greater barriers in terms of public acceptance, tech- nical risk, and financial cost, respectively. â¢ Optional strategies with lower benefits and lower barri- ers. State production and distribution of alternative fuels and agency efforts to improve energy efficiency and adopt alternative fuels are rated as offering only modest benefits Strategies Strong Energy-Shaping Effects Strong E/EPH/E Effects Low Barriers Most-promising strategies Feebates Fuel taxes Land use Higher-impact optional strategies Carbon pricing Fuel mandates and programs Public transportation Lower-impact optional strategies Fuel production and distribution Agency energy use Note: E/EPH/E = economy, environment and public health, and equity. Table 8.6. Ranking strategies to shape future energy outcomes.
103 of strategies to better meet their own needs. The next chap- ter considers a variety of ways in which states can adapt the framework as part of the planning process. Reference Lempert, R. J., S. W. Popper, and S. C. Bankes. 2003. Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative Long-Term Policy Analysis, RAND Pardee Center, Santa Monica. as posing relatively low risk. In contrast, the longer-term ben- efits of near-term hedging and shaping strategies are more uncertain, translating to a greater degree of risk. To highlight the differentiation between lower- and higher-risk strategies, hedging and shaping strategies are shown in the table in itali- cized text. Although the general framework presented in Table 8.7 is intended to be broadly applicable across the nation, individ- ual states may wish customize the selection and prioritization Objective Most Promising Optional High Impact Optional Low Impact Near-term strategies to address highly probable impacts Revenue and DOT costs Fuel taxes Tolling or MBUFs Registration fees Beneficiary fees DOT efficiency Land use Carbon pricing Congestion pricing Private capital Agency energy use Deferred adaptive strategies and near-term hedging strategies to address uncertain impacts Traffic congestion Congestion pricing Goods movement TDM Public transportation ITSs TSM&O Safety Traffic safety ITSs Goods movement TSM&O Air quality or greenhouse gas emissions Vehicle feebates Carbon pricing Goods movement TDM Land use Fuel mandates and programs Public transportation Fuel production and distribution Agency energy use Demand for alternative travel modes Public transportation TDM Land use Traffic safety Congestion pricing ITSs TSM&O Shaping strategies to influence future transportation energy outcomes Shaping future transportation energy outcomes Vehicle feebates Fuel taxes Land use Carbon pricing Fuel mandates and programs Public transportation Fuel production and distribution Agency energy use Note: ITSs = intelligent transportation systems, MBUFs = mileage-based user fees, TDM = transportation demand management, TSM&O = transportation system management and operations. Italicized text denotes higher-risk hedging and shaping strategies. Table 8.7. Framework for robust long-term planning.