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Report: State struggling to reduce vehicle emissions

California faces significant obstacles in complying with a 2008 state law aimed at reducing passenger vehicle usage, according to a report by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

The report points to unrealized rail transit investments and resistance to pricing tools like fuel taxes as factors that have slowed reduction in car usage.

The two-year-old SB 375 [PDF] mandates that California's major metropolitan areas reduce per capita emissions from driving by 7 percent by 2020 and by 15 percent in 2035. While the primary focus of the bill is a reduction in the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, the legislation places a special emphasis on addressing traffic and public health concerns by reducing the number of miles residents drive.

In a prepared statement, Ellen Hanak, a senior fellow at the institute, summarized the findings, which were based on interviews with government officials and city planners as well as data from the state:

The law encourages an integrated approach to reducing emissions – changing land use patterns to reduce the need to drive, investing in mass transit and other alternatives to driving, and increasing the cost of driving and parking to encourage the use of these alternatives. But it will be up to regional and local leaders to turn the vision into reality,

The report lauds California officials for encouraging public transportation ridership, but outlines several issues that must be addressed before the state can meet the 2020 and 2035 targets:

  • The number of jobs per square mile in California is lower than the national average and declining, so local governments need to find ways to encourage the growth of jobs near public transit.
  • SB 375 encourages residential instead of commercial development near transit; this should be amended.
  • Local governments need to improve access to areas surrounding major transit hubs by providing feeder bus services.
  • Officials should consider mileage fees, which are used in other countries and are extremely effective at reducing vehicle usage.


Filed under: Environment, Daily Report


Comments are closed for this story.
jmyovino's picture
How about we try doing away with the HOV lanes for a while? It seems to me that if we let the majority of vehicles use the whole highway we would reduce travel times and drop the emission output by shortening the vehicle run times. Plus most vehicle produce less emissions at highway speeds (highway mileage is always higher than city).
Mr Merciless's picture
Public transit has never worked here. Our country was build around the car with longer distances between places. When you have to sit and wait for a bus to get you to the train to get you to a bus that "may" get you near work and would take 2+ hours to complete, no one will tolerate that. The hustle of our lifestyle will not allow this. And what person in their right mind would tolerate that? It's not the output of a car, the issue lays in the quantity of them. STOP LETTING PEOPLE IN! I'd gladly pay more tax to stop the overpopulation. Get a clue! The peoblem is, the state looks a peice of land and say's hmmm, how can I maximize my tax.....I know, build 5 houses (condo's) and get 5 times the tax as I would if it had a single house. Then when all those cars enter the road...Oop's don't we look stupid?...No, we'll just blame the car manufacturers and wave our finger and tell them to clean up their act.

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