State Struggling to Reduce Vehicle Emissions

This post was originated by our content partners at California Watch.

Report says driving needs to be more costly to get us out of our cars

By Marie C. Baca

Drivers now pay $6 to cross the San Francisco Bay Bridge during peak traffic hours. "Peak pricing" is one strategy to push commuters to alternative transit. (Photo: Craig Miller)

California faces significant obstacles in complying with a 2008 state law aimed at reducing passenger vehicle usage, according to a report by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

The report points to unrealized rail transit investments and resistance to pricing tools like fuel taxes as factors that have slowed reduction in car usage.

The two-year-old SB 375 mandates that California’s major metropolitan areas reduce per capita emissions from driving by 7 percent by 2020 and by 15 percent in 2035. While the primary focus of the bill is a reduction in the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, the legislation places a special emphasis on addressing traffic and public health concerns by reducing the number of miles residents drive.

In a prepared statement, Ellen Hanak, a senior fellow at the institute, summarized the findings, which were based on interviews with government officials and city planners as well as data from the state:

The law encourages an integrated approach to reducing emissions – changing land use patterns to reduce the need to drive, investing in mass transit and other alternatives to driving, and increasing the cost of driving and parking to encourage the use of these alternatives. But it will be up to regional and local leaders to turn the vision into reality,

The report lauds California officials for encouraging public transportation ridership, but outlines several issues that must be addressed before the state can meet the 2020 and 2035 targets:

* The number of jobs per square mile in California is lower than the national average and declining, so local governments need to find ways to encourage the growth of jobs near public transit.
* SB 375 encourages residential instead of commercial development near transit; this should be amended.
* Local governments need to improve access to areas surrounding major transit hubs by providing feeder bus services.
* Officials should consider mileage fees, which are used in other countries and are extremely effective at reducing vehicle usage.

Read all posts and hear companion radio reports in our series, Miles to Go: Building a More Sustainable California.

State Struggling to Reduce Vehicle Emissions 17 February,2011Craig Miller

2 thoughts on “State Struggling to Reduce Vehicle Emissions”

  1. Many of the studies that I have read, but especially those that deal with water or transportation, seem to think that the agencies involved are valid stakeholders and representatives or representatives of the public view. Too often, they are not. In this case, the PPIC sourced their data from the very agencies that have failed to build viable transportation systems. As to the water agencies, I was involved in the development of a Long Range Water Management Plan for the Santa Clara Valley Water District. There is little that they do which could be justified by the public input to that plan.

    Now I live in, Morgan Hill, a community that is about to lose CALTRAIN services. It will make absolutely no difference to me. There used to be a bus service that could have taken me to the CALTRAIN depot. VTA canacelled that service. Now, I would have to drive 5 miles to the depot. The latest I could leave Northbound is 7:20 in the AM and the earliest I could return is 6:48 PM. This is strictly a commuter service as that timetable is not useful for anything else.

    Some of the conclusion are good, especially the need for organized connection bus
    service. I would also suggest that these agencies need to look at providing other services in conjunction with the stations: shopping for daily needs like groceries comes to mind. I have lived in Tokyo and every line has shopping and entertainment clustered around the stations. Planners need to focus on developing this synergy if public transit is to succeed.

  2. yes, emissions are something to worry about but the most urgent matter at hand is the fact that US congress is voting today on the PENCE AMMENDMENT to eradicate all funding for family planning. WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMEN AND SAY NO to this proposal.
    The reason we have global warming: TOO MANY PEOPLE which are going to make our planet unsustainable within 100 years!

    Abortion should never to be considered a form of contraception. Family planning MUST be however made part of our health and sustainability agenda.
    The planet’s sustainability is at stake now due to so many unplanned births.
    Thanks to U.S. support for family planning, more than 26 million women in the poorest countries in the world are able to delay or prevent pregnancy.

    The UN estimates that 201 million women have no access to family planning or contraception, resulting in 52 million unwanted pregnancies, 22 million abortions and 1.4 million infant deaths annually. That is more than double the number of deaths per year during World War II! Let this be in the conscience of congressmen who deny these preventive measures.

    Bangladesh calculated that each $62 of government spending on family planning would save $615 in other social services. Free family planning education and services included requirements such as passing family-planning exams before obtaining a marriage license. Radio, TV bulletins, and soap operas offered education on these issues and on prevention of contagious diseases. The message, increased school enrollment from 60% to 90%. And prevented the holocaust caused by lack of knowledge in family planning.
    The 11 million deaths that take place yearly due to lack of food and water would be prevented if we did not have such overwhelming overpopulation problem that is exhausting all natural resources
    At this rate, our planet will become uninhabitable within 100-200 years This, BECAUSE 2 BILLION MORE PEOPLE WILL BE BORN in 20 YEARS

    Prof Fenner and the National Academy of Sciences:

    G Kaplan, MD

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Craig Miller

Craig is a former KQED Science editor, specializing in weather, climate, water & energy issues, with a little seismology thrown in just to shake things up. Prior to that, he launched and led the station's award-winning multimedia project, Climate Watch. Craig is also an accomplished writer/producer of television documentaries, with a focus on natural resource issues.

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