The transportation industry is steadily advancing to promote eco-friendly solutions to protect the environment. With the ongoing battle against climate change, reducing emissions and the excessive use of gas can prevent a continued increase in greenhouse gases. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), vehicles on the road contribute a large carbon footprint. In 2018, 28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were released by motor vehicles.
Public transportation has been a rising trend over the past few years. Approximately 26 million daily trips are taken on public transportation. According to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) National Transit Database (NTD), passengers have increased their miles traveled on public transportation services such as buses, trains, and light rail.
FTA’s Low-No Grant Program funds projects in cities where low or zero-emission bus routes are being put into place. On February 11, 2021, FTA announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) of up to $180 million in competitive grant funds for Low-No projects. The NOFO puts projects that focus on environmental protection and those projects that support the continued development of the nation’s transit workforce.
Light rail lines have become a rising trend in America over the past few years. Light rail offers the benefit of fast travel, reduced traffic congestion, reduced pollution, an increase in property value, and a way for those with lower income to travel affordably. In 2021 Sound Transit’s Northgate Link Extension in Seattle, WA, is scheduled to open in September. Sound Transit has plans underway to further the light rail line to Lynwood Station. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Green Line Extension will have two branches that run through the Boston Metropolitan area, reducing city congestion. Opening in December 2021, the Green Line Extension will fully operational.
With the availability of increased public transportation options, fewer cars will be on the roads. Bus and rail manufactures are introducing more eco-friendly powered vehicles such as battery-powered buses, hybrid buses, hyperloop tunnels, and hydrogen trains. The way of the future in public transportation is to go green.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), approximately 5.9 million commercial motor vehicle drivers operate in the United States. The rise of zero-emission (ZE) trucks has been an increasing trend seen over the past couple of years. Commercial fleets will have the option of purchasing from a selection of around 169 different models and makes of ZE vehicles.
The change to ZE would significantly cut down greenhouse gases. While a large amount of ZE commercial vehicles are in the medium size range, developments in the technology continue. One hurdle that commercial fleets face is when it comes to charging. Facilities do not have the full capacity to handle charging so many ZE vehicles. Investments are in the works to utilize ZE commercial vehicle technology in heavy long-haul commercial trucks.
Personal use vehicles are arguably one of the largest contributors to put off emissions. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, around 88 percent of Americans aged 15 and older are licensed drivers. The typical home has two cars, while larger families with members of 7 or more typically have an average of 2.88 cars.
Developments in technology and availability have created a shift to electric or hybrid cars and motorcycles. The number of on-road motorcycles registered in the U.S. doubled from 4.2 million in 2002 to 8.3 million in 2018. These alternative methods of transportation for personal use little to no gas and have significantly lowered emission levels.
While creating a greener footprint in the transportation sector is not a change that can happen overnight, the continued developments in technology point towards a brighter future.