Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled with Transit
In many places, people drive not because they want to, but because there are few practical alternatives. Where transit options do exist, poor transit service, management and marketing often fail to attract potential riders. Enhancing transit usage means addressing both short-term operational problems, and broader, long-term issues of transit-supportive urban planning, zoning, and land-use.
In the short-term, there are many low-cost actions open to transit agencies to make the transit experience more pleasant for the public, whether this means maintaining the interior and exterior cleanliness of a vehicle, customer service training for personnel, or providing efficient and comfortable means of access and egress to vehicles at transit stops. Travel Matters presents selected examples of such operational, service, and marketing programs.
Characteristics of a place, such as residential density, street layout, land use mix, transit accessibility, pedestrian and bicycle friendliness, and regional development patterns, together determine the most efficient mode of transportation available to an individual.
Where these local characteristics work together to encourage automobile use, greenhouse gas emissions will be highest. Where these local characteristics support mass and non-motorized forms of transportation, greenhouse gas emissions will be lower—as can be seen in the maps of household and county greenhouse gas emissions.
This linkage, visually represented, shows how local land-use patterns can have global consequences. It also opens the door to a range of local actions, available to regional planners, developers, community groups, and transportation agencies that make mass transit a more competitive transportation option. For more illustrations of the options available for planning, zoning, building, and marketing transit-supportive urban environments, follow any of the indicated links.