Less fuel-intensive transportation options means less greenhouse gases. To boost greater use of alternative low-carbon transportation we propose new investment in more diverse and intermodal transportation networks such as local mass-transit networks, regional and interstate long-distance high-speed rail systems, and green city programs to encourage the redevelopment of urban areas and reduce long commutes and suburban sprawl.
Investing in new infrastructure for smart growth and transportation alternatives has many spin-off benefits, increasing property values (especially near transit networks), creating high skill construction jobs, providing real transportation choices for commuters, investing in more livable communities, and increasing job access for low-income workers. Investing in a more diverse and intermodal transportation network is a long-term strategy for meeting climate challenges and a critical part of an integrated approach to reducing our nation’s carbon footprint.
Currently, demand for federal funds to initiate mass transit construction projects far outstrips federal budget allocations. We can increase incentives for communities to build better and more effective transit systems by increasing the percentage of the federal match for new mass transit rail networks and high speed bus systems, and by strengthening federal programs that promote mass transit ridership through workplace and other incentives. At the state and regional level, we can also have great impact on reducing long-distance automobile travel by promoting the construction of new high-speed rail corridors in the Midwest, South, and West Coast, and by upgrading the already successful rail projects in the Northeast.
In our cities, too, we can promote denser, more desirable, and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods by funding programs that redevelop abandoned and polluted urban lands close to transit networks—specifically by funding the expansion of the highly successful Brownfields program, which has brought much blighted urban land into vibrant and productive use. Rebuilding our metropolitan regions to promote new modes of transportation that in turn promote shorter commutes is ultimately a critical step toward creating a low-carbon economy.
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