OTF Newsletter


A Look at Headlines and Public Announcements on Efforts to Modernize and Share the Benefit of Cleaner Transportation

March 2019, Vol 18

Your View By Natural Resources Defense Council: Pennsylvania Needs To Do More To Support Electric Vehicles Allentown (PA) Morning Call, March 12, 2019. “Last December Pennsylvania joined nine Northeast and mid-Atlantic states and Washington, D.C. in an effort to implement the Transportation and Climate Initiative. 

It’s a coalition spearheading the charge to reduce climate pollution from the transportation sector and make critical, urgent investments in low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure. Not only is cleaner transportation within reach for average Pennsylvanians, switching to an electric vehicle will save drivers from all walks of life hundreds of dollars every year on gasoline and diesel — and drivers in rural areas stand to save the most. What’s more, modernizing our transportation will clean the air and provide better health outcomes for our children and seniors. Make no mistake, modernizing public transportation and expanding car-free transportation options such as bike and scooter shares in our cities is a component of future transportation in Pennsylvania. But let’s be clear: The idea that someone is coming to take our cars or trucks and infringe on our personal freedom is a bunch of hot air. As the third-largest emitter of carbon pollution in the U.S., and with many of its state-maintained roads and over of its 4,000 bridges in disrepair, Pennsylvania can either invest in commonsense infrastructure or risk being left behind, as other states move forward with their own ambitious plans.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam vetoes attempts to pull state from regional carbon-cutting initiatives Energy News Network, March 15, 2019. “By issuing a pair of vetoes Thursday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam sent a message to the Legislature and beyond that he is intent on sticking with an aggressive carbon-cutting agenda. One bill he struck down, HB 2611, would have prohibited Virginia from entering a regional program to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from power plants unless authorized by two-thirds of the General Assembly. The other, HB 2269, would have prevented the state from joining a separate regional compact designed to slice emissions from vehicles and other transportation sources unless approved by two-thirds of the General Assembly. At Northam’s behest, Virginia also became the first southern state to join the District of Columbia and 12 New England and Mid-Atlantic states that were already members of the Transportation and Climate Initiative. By the end of this year, a majority of those members have agreed to release a regional plan that caps carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels and invest the proceeds into low-carbon and more resilient infrastructure.”

New York City says electric cars are now the cheapest option for its fleet Quartz.com, March 18, 2019. “Electric cars are expensive. The sticker price for electric vehicles (EVs) has historically exceeded that for comparable gasoline cars. But that’s less true every month. The arrival of cars like Kia’s $33,145 electric Soul, GM’s $36,620 Bolt, and Tesla’s $35,000 Model 3—not to mention the $23,800 Smart EQ—have pushed the price of top-reviewed EVs below the median price for cars in the US. And that’s before thousands of dollars in state and federal incentives. Yet the total cost of ownership can be far cheaper for all-electrics—which is of particular interest to fleet owners, including municipal governments. While average car buyers look at the sticker price, fleet owners focus on lifetime costs (maintenance, fuel, and ancillaries). They want to know every penny they’ll be spending over the course of a decade or so they might keep the vehicle. EVs, because of their low fuel (electricity) costs and relative simplicity (uncomplicated motors, fewer moving parts) are cheaper, on a relative basis, than their conventional counterparts.”

Will MBTA fare hike prod Beacon Hill to take action?Boston Globe, March 18, 2019. “For now, [MA Governor] Baker is sticking to his position that the state does not have raise the gas tax, for example, or increase fees on Uber and Lyft to fund transit.  But Baker has noted that he’s exploring one new pot of money — one that has echoes of a gas tax. It’s part of a climate-change plan that Baker and other governors from the Northeast are working on that would set limits on pollution emissions from cars and other vehicles. The plan may include selling emission credits to the fuel industry, which could raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year, while costing indidividual drivers only a few dollars a month. A transportation commission appointed by Baker suggested some of the money could go toward the transit system. Chris Dempsey, director of the nonprofit Transportation for Massachusetts, said the initiative will help reduce transportation pollution. But he said the state must also consider other measures to directly address traffic congestion, such as adjusting tolls to discourage rush-hour driving. “’It’s not that there’s one idea that solves all of our transportation problems,” Dempsey said. “It’s that there’s a set of ideas that solve a set of related but distinct problems.’”

Charged up: CEO of electric vehicle nonprofit wants action on major legislation — and wants it fast ROI-NJ.com, (Q&A) March 15, 2019. “New Jersey is one of nine states that have pledged to dramatically increase the number of ZEVs in use. The goal is to have 330,000 cars by 2025. (The state has fewer than 10 percent of that number now.) The ChargEVC plan — which comes in the form of Senate bill S2252 and Assembly bill A4819 — is one that could bring widespread electric vehicle adoption to the state. Key elements of the bill are an EV rebate program; major investments through a public-private development ecosystem in accessible, affordable and convenient public-charging infrastructure; and bold statewide goals for EV adoption, including a goal of 90 percent EV sales by 2040.The structure of state government, and not just here in New Jersey but everywhere, is not really well organized to be able to handle opportunities and challenges that cross different sectors. This touches codes and standards. It touches energy regulation, environmental and air quality, transportation policy, etc. To really make this happen, we need the public and we need our state government to do some things. There are a few things they could be doing that would be hugely impactful, and I’m very frustrated with the pace of that. So, I haven’t seen much on electric vehicle opportunity from the administration and it’s extremely frustrating given all the work, time and resources that have gone into detailing with how this could be done in a thoughtful manner.

Resources / Announcements

Costs and Benefits of Clean Transportation in Maryland Union of Concerned Scientists, March, 2019. “The Union of Concerned Scientists commissioned independent research to evaluate three proven technology pathways by which the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states could accelerate the deployment of clean vehicles and fuels at a scale sufficient to come very close to meeting regional climate targets: emissions reductions of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050. The analysis estimates the investments needed to take these technologies to scale, as well as the resulting financial, environmental, and health benefits. For Maryland, the cumulative investments and returns result in a net benefit of almost $40 billion by 2050.

Pennsylvania wants residents' thoughts on everything transportation Reading (PA) Eagle, March 18, 2019. “Before a state commission adopts its next 12-year plan, Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission is seeking public input online. The commission is taking public comment for its next 12-year plan and Alan Piper, Berks County transportation planner with the Berks County Planning Commission, is encouraging county residents to get involved.

You can participate in two ways: 1) Take the commission's online survey at bit.ly/PaTransportationSurvey. It went online last Monday and is available through April 26. Data from the survey will be shared with counties and local transportation planners for consideration in their planning documents; 2) Participate in an online public meeting on Wednesday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards will lead a discussion about what's new at PennDOT, its 2019 Transportation Performance Report, and have your questions answered live. To register for the meeting, visit http://bit.ly/PaRoadsOnlineMeeting.

Insights from the Massachusetts Commission on the Future of Transportation Upcoming Event,April 4, 2019. In December 2018, Governor Baker's Commission on the Future of Transportation released their recommendations to address future challenges in transportation, exploring everything from the impacts of climate change to the rise of autonomous vehicle technology. This conference will give attendees an opportunity to hear directly from Commissioners as they present and discuss their findings. Secretary of Transportation, Stephanie Pollack, will offer a keynote address. This event is free and open to the public, however, pre-registration is required. Register Now


The “Clean Transportation News Round-up” is a monthly publication from Our Transportation Future (OTF), a coalition of local, regional and national organizations committed to modernizing transportation across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. OTF is working with business and governmental leaders to develop a 21st Century regional transportation system that is cleaner, offers more transportation options and serves the needs of everyone. For more information or to unsubscribe, contact:  [email protected].