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].
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.
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].
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.
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].
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.
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].
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].
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].
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