Coronavirus Has Shown Us a World Without Traffic. Can We Sustain It?

Coronavirus Has Shown Us a World Without Traffic. Can We Sustain It? Brookings Institution. Adie Tomer and Lara Fishbane. Friday, May 1, 2020

There are few silver linings to the COVID-19 pandemic, but free-flowing traffic is certainly one of them. For the essential workers who still must commute each day, driving to work has suddenly become much easier. The same applies to the trucks delivering our surging e-commerce orders. Removing so many cars from the roads has even led to cleaner air, clearer views, and more room for outdoor recreation, even in major cities.
Yet, stay-at-home orders are far from an ideal way to eliminate traffic. If the choice is between brutal congestion or full employment, we’ll take full employment every time. Nor were governments prepared for the loss in gas tax revenue, which leaves their transportation budgets in tatters.
Now, with many states considering lifting their stay-at-home orders, the question is whether the country can resume economic activity without bringing back the worst effects of our driving. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Electric Vehicles: A Primer on Technology and Selected Policy Issues

Electric Vehicles: A Primer on Technology and Selected Policy Issues. Congressional Research Service. Melissa N. Diaz. February 14, 2020

The market for electrified light-duty vehicles (also called passenger vehicles; including passenger cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and minivans) has grown since the 1990s. During this decade, the first contemporary hybrid-electric vehicle debuted on the global market, followed by the introduction of other types of electric vehicles (EVs). By 2018, electric vehicles made up 4.2% of the 16.9 million new light-duty vehicles sold in the United States that year. Meanwhile, charging infrastructure grew in response to rising electric vehicle ownership, increasing from 3,394 charging stations in 2011 to 78,301 in 2019. However, many locations have sparse or no public charging infrastructure.

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Accelerating the Low Carbon Transition: The Case For Stronger, More Targeted And Coordinated International Action

Accelerating the Low Carbon Transition: The Case For Stronger, More Targeted And Coordinated International Action. Brookings Institution. David G. Victor, Frank W. Geels, and Simon Sharpe.  December 9, 2019

The world is committed to acting on climate change. At least since the signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, the international community has been united in its commitment to preventing ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. In the Paris agreement of 2015, almost all countries set out individual targets or actions they would take towards meeting this collective goal. Earlier this year, the UN Climate Action Summit highlighted many examples of governments, businesses and civil society groups leading the way to a low carbon economy. There is general consensus on the need for deep cuts in emissions as rapidly as is practical. However, it is equally clear that emissions are still rising, not falling, and economic change is not happening anywhere near quickly enough. Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Issues in Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Deployment

Issues in Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Deployment. Congressional Research Service. Bill Canis. November 27, 2019

Autonomous vehicles have the potential to bring major improvements in highway safety. Motor vehicle crashes caused an estimated 37,133 fatalities in 2017; a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has shown that 94% of crashes are due to human errors. For this reason, federal oversight of the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles has been of considerable interest to Congress. In the 115th Congress, autonomous vehicle legislation passed the House as H.R. 3388, the SELF DRIVE Act, and a separate bill, S. 1885, the AV START Act, was reported from a Senate committee. Neither bill was enacted. In the 116th Congress, interest in autonomous vehicles remains strong, but similar comprehensive legislative proposals have not been introduced. The America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, S. 2302, which has been reported by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, would encourage research and development of infrastructure that could accommodate new technologies such as autonomous vehicles.

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The Western Balkans with Chinese Characteristics

The Western Balkans with Chinese Characteristics. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Heather A. Conley, Jonathan E. Hillman, Matthew Melino. July 30, 2019

In 2012, China and 11 EU countries from Central and Southern Europe and 5 non-EU members from the Western Balkans met in Warsaw, Poland for the first time in a “16+1” format to deepen economic cooperation in the areas of infrastructure as well as information and green technological development. The occasion was marked by the signing of “China’s Twelve Measures for Promoting Friendly Cooperation with Central and Eastern European Countries” and the official launch of the 16+1. Seven years later in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the format has now grown to “17+1” with the inclusion of Greece. Nearly 40 bilateral deals were announced between China and partner countries, which included the opening of credit lines between the China Development Bank and Hungary worth €500 million, Croatia worth €300 million, Romania worth €100 million, Bulgaria worth €300 million, and Serbia worth €25 million.

It could be suggested that this region was in fact an early test case for the Chinese government’s 2013 announcement of its global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which envisions land and maritime transportation corridors stretching across and around the Eurasian landmass to Europe. Certainly, there was a strong infrastructure demand signal emanating from the region, which grew frustrated when its needs for new roads, modern ports, and high-speed rail went unmet by Western investment. Having developed the unique, mixed EU and non-EU 16+1 structure, Beijing could claim to be helping to “bridge” the EU and non-EU divide. It also gained a high-profile vehicle to channel a portion of the BRI’s $1 trillion in promised infrastructure investment. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Federal Public Transportation Program: In Brief

Federal Public Transportation Program: In Brief.  Congressional Research Service. William J. Mallett. Updated May 14, 2019

Federal assistance to public transportation is provided primarily through the public transportation program administered by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The federal public transportation program was authorized from FY2016 through FY2020 as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (P.L. 114-94). This report provides an introduction to the program as authorized by the FAST Act. Major federal involvement in public transportation dates to the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-365). Prior to the mid-1960s there was very little public funding of public transportation. With much lower ridership than existed at the end of World War II and mounting debts, however, many private transit companies were reorganized as public entities. Federal funding was initially used to recapitalize transit systems. Today, the focus of the federal program is still on the capital side, but the program has evolved to support operational expenses in some circumstances, as well as safety oversight, planning, and research.

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Announcing the Economic Value Atlas: A New Approach to Regional Transportation and Land Use Planning

Announcing the Economic Value Atlas: A New Approach to Regional Transportation and Land Use Planning. Brookings Institution. Adie Tomer. June 5, 2019

Metropolitan areas need a new approach to regional economic development and infrastructure investment. Competition to attract the most productive industries and workers, rising price tags on large and small infrastructure projects, an emerging focus on inclusive economic outcomes, and demand for more livable and resilient neighborhoods all place significant pressures on regional leaders to deliver an advanced, competitive economy that works for all people. That means old policy playbooks that overly focus on business recruitment and congestion mitigation will no longer suffice.

Instead, metropolitan governments and their civic partners need a suite of land use and infrastructure policies and practices that work in service of broader economic objectives.

Over the past 18 months, the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program worked alongside Metro—Portland, Oregon’s metropolitan planning organization—to begin addressing this need. The result of that effort is the Economic Value Atlas, or EVA. The objective of the Economic Value Atlas is to better align economic development, regional planning, and infrastructure investment in support of regional economic goals. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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How to Enable Electric Bus Adoption in Cities Worldwide

How to Enable Electric Bus Adoption in Cities Worldwide. World Resources Institute.  Xiangyi Li et al. May 2019

Electric buses could pioneer a new age of clean and efficient urban transport and put cities on track towards sustainability. However, electric bus adoption is not accelerating fast enough for the world to meet transport-related global climate objectives and help limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.

The aim of this report is to fill in knowledge gaps and provide actionable guidance for transit agencies and bus operating entities to help them overcome the most common and debilitating barriers to electric bus adoption. It provides a step-by-step guidance to establish and achieve electric bus adoption targets using concrete and diverse real-world experiences.

Transit agencies and bus operating entities are encouraged to maximize electric bus adoption targets based on local conditions and to develop a responsible strategy for implementation. They should be actively involved in planning and analysis; be serious about piloting and testing projects; and collaborate with city policymakers and other stakeholders to accelerate a responsible adoption of electric buses. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 68 pages].

The Higher Road: Forging a U.S. Strategy for the Global Infrastructure Challenge

The Higher Road: Forging a U.S. Strategy for the Global Infrastructure Challenge. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Matthew P. Goodman et al. April 23, 2019

Over the next 15 years, more hard infrastructure is projected to be built around the world than currently exists. This global build-out is already underway, and the changes it brings will only accelerate. Infrastructure projects, especially in the transport, energy, information and communications technology (ICT), and water sectors, have long been recognized as the backbone of modern economies. Going forward, emerging digital infrastructure, including fifth-generation (5G) networks, remote sensing, and other advanced technologies, will be especially critical. As our infrastructure is transformed, so will be the economies it fuels, the regions it connects, and the global commons it underpins. These trends are too powerful and potentially beneficial for the United States to stop, and too consequential to ignore. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 61 pages].

The Tech-Enabled Energy Future: Transition by Design

The Tech-Enabled Energy Future: Transition by Design. Council on Foreign Relations. Amy Myers Jaffe March 08, 2019

A new wave of energy innovation is remaking the transportation, electricity, and manufacturing sectors. This so-called fourth industrial revolution is already creating great uncertainty about the future energy landscape, lessening common interests between oil-producing nations and the world’s largest economies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 30 pages].