walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Moving Cooler_, Urban Land Institute

This report from the Urban Land Institute (a password protected pdf/online ebook for which they got from me $24.95) compares and contrasts the costs and benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions of a variety of strategies including, but not limited to, congestion pricing, cordon pricing (that's a toll that's charged upon entry to a particular area, such as a central business district), parking pricing and parking taxes, a vehicle miles traveled tax, changes in land use policy to encourage densification, improvements to public transit, infrastructure to support walking and cycling and other non-motorized transport, changes to freight to make that move more smoothly and efficiently (weigh in motion, improvements in moving from rail to truck so most of the miles are in the most efficient mode, etc.), highway infrastructure to reduce bottlenecks, ramp metering -- and a whole lot more. They combined these strategies in "bundles" (an idea that health care wonks may recognize -- efforts to reduce hospital infection are usually done in "bundles" of best practices, for example): cheapest ones to implement, the ones that show the results the fastest, kitchen-sink, public transit + land use + walking + cycling, etc. You can read the executive summary online for free over at:


There's a link to the executive summary on the right, first of the documents.

It's _very_ wonky, and while the Urban Land Institute cannot fairly be described as conservative in the political sense, the assumptions they made _are_ conservative -- this is the kind of estimate that when stuff is implemented, analysis after changes are made discover that the promised benefits were significantly understated. Because they are _not_ politically conservative, ULI spends a chunk of time trying to quantify where possible, and describe where quantification is not easy, how the impacts of proposed changes might negatively affect some populations more than others ("equity" -- not in the stock market sense, in the is it fair sense).

On page 86 of the full document, table 4.19 shows an equity analysis by quintile of income of motor fuel expenses in 2007 households. It's a bit of a shocker, and a good example of how different "median" and "average" really are. The average percent of household income spend on gas and oil, for example, is 3.9% across all households. But 80% of the population spends more than that as a percentage of income. The same is true of percent spent on private transportation: 13.5% across all households, but 80% of the population spends more than that as a percentage of income.

My takeaway (and I suspect this is the intent of the authors) is that transportation costs are already very inequitable. Changes to transportation policy to improve greenhouse gas emissions might make it worse -- but we are not starting from fair. And if we opt for bundles that make it more possible to avoid owning a car, at least the monetary inequity might improve, even if it is less equitable in the sense of "not everyone can afford to have a car". And most of the bundles over time reduce the cost of vehicle ownership (by reducing the number of miles that one must drive, increasing options, etc.), which hopefully would also help.

I can't say that I expect anyone else to fork over $24.95 to read something this wonky, but it does have some good stuff in it. And reading it can definitely create a ranking in one's head of what strategies are "worth it" and which are not so much. None of the "soft strategies" of _Car Sick_ are included, which is a pity -- it means the assumptions of public transit adoption and non-motorized transportation use are probably a lot lower than they should be, and the costs probably higher. Also, many of Sloman's soft strategies directly address equity concerns for poor and/or rural people.

The McKinsey report on green house gas reduction (which is free) forms part of the foundation for this paper. I'll be reading that next, assuming some bright and shiny thing doesn't distract me.
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