Quickly find out if we have already addressed your query about Our Transportation Future, The Transportation and Climate Initiative and supporting a clean transportation future for the region.  

What is Our Transportation Future?


Our Transportation Future (OTF) is a coalition of local, regional and national organizations committed to modernizing transportation across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. OTF is working with business and governmental leaders to develop a 21st Century regional transportation system that is cleaner, healthier, offers more transportation options and serves the needs of everyone.

What does “modern, clean and low-carbon transportation” mean?


We need to bring our transportation system into the 21st Century.  Needed improvements to ensure modern, clean and low-carbon transportation for all of us includes: better public transportation, including zero-emission bus service, in urban, suburban, and rural areas; safer streets for walking and biking; new infrastructure for electric vehicles; expanded light rail service; and new programs to enable residents, including low- and moderate-income households, to trade in old gas-burning vehicles for cleaner, more efficient hybrids or electric vehicles (EVs).

What are the benefits of overhauling transportation?


The benefits of modernizing transportation are huge. By one estimate, a regional approach could cut transportation climate pollution by 40 percent, create more than 100,000 new jobs, significantly reduce asthma attacks and preventable deaths, and put $14.4 billion in families’ pockets – all by 2030. And the benefits are not just region-wide. These benefits also would make a real difference in our everyday personal lives.  

Consider the benefits to those living in New York and Connecticut. Residents would see the following improvements: 10.2 million fewer hours behind the wheel due to reduced congestion; 43 billion fewer gallons that would have to be pumped and paid for at gas stations; nearly 35,000 fewer asthma attacks; and the prevention of more than 5,100 deaths due to fewer traffic accidents and reduced pollution exposure.

What does this mean for commuters?


For commuters, clean and modern transportation means an improved quality of life, less stress, and reduced health risks from pollution. Modern transportation means real opportunities for commuters to get out from behind the wheel, with more accessibility to public transportation and better options for ride sharing. Building smarter communities will reduce congestion by providing walkable and bikeable connections for more residents.

What does this mean for urban residents?


One of the real problems with our aging transportation system is that it does a poor job of meeting the needs of many urban residents, especially those in underserved communities, including low-income minorities. A clean, modern and efficient transportation system can be designed to fill in the gaps and seams that exist today, expand affordability of fares and accessibility of routes, and provide options that don’t increase air pollution, worsen climate change, and pose hazards to public health. Modern walkable and bikeable communities with improved public transit and incentives for electric bus and vehicle (EV)[HB1]  deployment will be a big step forward in urban areas.

Electrifying heavy trucks and other equipment at ports, airports, and truck depots can also reduce pollution in urban and surrounding neighborhoods, which are often low-income communities and communities of color. This also reduces fuel use and saves operators money.

What does this mean for those living in rural areas?


Rural areas will benefit from a transportation system that is more efficient in moving both people and goods. Less congested roads, expanded transit reaching into more communities, and other enhancements will be major improvements in rural areas of the region. Greater access to cleaner and more efficient vehicle technologies will benefit rural drivers with major annual cost savings on gasoline and better connections to jobs. It’s not hard to understand: people in small towns, outer suburbs and rural areas drive more miles; they repair their vehicles more frequently; and they spend more money on gasoline. That’s why people living in rural areas, as well as in the suburbs, in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast stand to benefit the most by making the switch to an electric vehicle (EV).

Improved mobility options for older Americans who live in rural areas can empower these citizens to retain their independence, decrease social isolation, and improve their health by connecting them with medical services.

How will this work, and who will pay?


Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are considering a policy known as “cap-and-invest” to clean up and modernize transportation. The policy would establish a total regional limit, or cap, on the amount of pollution from vehicle fuels, and this cap would decline over time, reducing more and more tailpipe pollution and making communities healthier.

To enforce the cap, major fuel suppliers would be required to buy carbon allowances—each equal to one ton of carbon dioxide emitted—in proportion to the pollution from the fuels they sell. These allowances would be sold at auction up to the cap level. As the cap ratchets down, suppliers would have to reduce their pollution, switching to cleaner alternatives.

Auction revenues would be invested in programs to accelerate the transition to cleaner, more efficient, and more affordable transportation options. Policymakers could prioritize investments in projects that benefit communities most harmed by pollution; improve public transportation and public health; accelerate the deployment of clean, electric buses and trucks; and lower the cost of purchasing clean vehicles, all while helping to grow our economy and create jobs. These investments will help transform our broken transportation system into a world-class network that provides more transportation options, improves our quality of life, cleans up the air, and better serves all Northeast and Mid-Atlantic residents.

Has this been done elsewhere?


Yes. California and Quebec are part of the Western Climate Initiative, which uses a market-based cap-and-invest program to reduce carbon emissions from transportation, electricity, and other sectors.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region has a similar multi-state program for the electric sector. Since 2009, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has helped clean up the region’s power sector, reducing harmful emissions while driving the economy forward. RGGI has helped cut emissions from power plants in half, while creating thousands of new jobs, boosting clean energy investment, growing the economy, and lowering customers’ utility bills.

By building on the best aspects of the RGGI program, states can develop a transportation-sector cap-and-invest program that delivers equitable outcomes in communities that need it the most, improves transportation options and cleans up the air. It’s noteworthy that vehicle emissions are now the largest source of carbon pollution, a key driver of climate change.

The RGGI model can be a guide for tackling the region’s outdated, dirty and inequitable transportation system. It is estimated that developing a cleaner, safer and modern transportation system in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, could cut transportation climate pollution 40 percent, create more than 100,000 new jobs and put $14.4 billion in families’ pockets – all by 2030.

Who supports this effort?


Polls show that a regional clean transportation initiative has broad-based support from a majority of voters in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. In December 2018, a coalition of nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia announced plans to develop a regional low-carbon transportation policy that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector and invest proceeds from the program into clean, resilient, equitable transportation infrastructure and options for residents throughout the region.

This effort has generated widespread support among business leaders, scientific groups and environmentalists and climate advocates. Influential investors, companies, hospital systems, colleges, and universities have also pledged support for a regional clean transportation agreement.