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Beyond MobilityA New Strategy for Sustainable TransportationbyAlan Falkfalk_alan@bah.comMatt Metcalfemetcalfe_matthew@bah.comStephanie Sandsand_stephanie@bah.comMinna Friedlanderfriedlander_minna@bah.com
Beyond Mobility: A New Strategy for Sustainable TransportationImportance of Sustainability • Allows the basic access and developmental needsTraditionally, transportation projects have been defined by of individuals, companies, and society to be metmobility or ease of physical movement, which has led to safely, enhancing livability in a manner consistenta system of roadways threading through every town and with human and ecosystem health; for example,hamlet in our nation. The primary goal of these projects has US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood described a livablebeen to alleviate local traffic congestion and provide faster, community as a place “where if people don’tmore efficient routes for automobiles and people to get want an automobile, they don’t have to have one.from Point A to Point B—mainly by building new roads and A community where you can walk to work, yourexpanding existing ones. doctor’s appointment, pharmacy, or grocery store. Or you could take light rail, a bus, or ride a bike”1But with each passing year, it has become increasinglyobvious that this mindset is myopic and often fails to • Offers a choice of transport modes and supportsdeliver the intended result. After many decades of following a competitive economy and balanced regionalthis transportation template, the United States finds developmentitself facing a raft of problems—an overdependence on • Limits emissions and waste within the planet’sautomobiles and fossil fuel; an expanding carbon footprint; ability to absorb them, uses substantial renewableeconomic dislocation for many small retailers; urban and resources, and uses nonrenewable resources onlysuburban sprawl and concomitant degradation of air and to the degree that renewable substitutes are notwater quality; deteriorating public transportation—that can available, while minimizing impact on land use andbe linked directly to the traditional transportation approach. noise generation.Because of their very real environmental, economic, and For sustainable transportation systems to becomesocial costs, these issues are too serious to be neglected. more commonplace, the US DOT will need to playConsequently, local public and private transportation a leadership role. It is the primary financial backerorganizations, along with the US Department of of transportation projects nationwide. However, theTransportation (US DOT), are increasingly seeking a more existing formula-based grant funding process, whichbalanced set of answers to transportation issues—a more primarily awards transportation grants to statesustainable solution. These answers must begin to address DOTs based on demographics (e.g., size of statethe transportation shortfalls that increasingly plague virtually or metropolitan area and its population), severelyevery region of our nation and must create transportation limits the US DOT’s ability to influence spending onsystems that will meet the needs of the future. sustainable transportation projects. Because recent attempts to change the funding formula have been“Sustainable” Transportation unsuccessful, a complementary approach is neededIn the context of transportation systems, the term that, in effect, will enable the US DOT to motivate“sustainable” encompasses environmental, social, and public officials and planners to consider and proposeeconomic considerations. As defined by the American sustainable transportation projects.Association of State Highway and TransportationOfficials and the Transportation Research Board,sustainable has three characteristics: 1 indlay, Christie. “Who Wants to Own Two or Three Cars?” AARP Bulletin, October 1, 2009. F Available at http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/housing/info-10-2009/living_in_a_post_car_world.html. 1
A Sustainable Transportation Strategy GreenLITES, Greenroads, American Society of Taken as a whole, Booz Allen’s proposed sustainable Civil Engineers infrastructure ratings, and Federal transportation approach is designed to complement Highway Administration’s Sustainable Highways the existing formula-based funding mechanism. This Self-Evaluation Tool. All these approaches, systems, three-part strategy, described in the following sections, and tools demonstrate a good starting point for addresses the interests of the US DOT, regional and the US DOT to develop a consistent and accepted local officials and agencies, project stakeholders, and standard to evaluate a transportation project’s degree the public. of sustainability. Numerous measures could be incorporated into these performance-based ratings, the Strategy 1: Encourage Accountability for Sustainable most relevant of which include the following: Transportation Spending at State and Local Levels • Energy Use—Measures energy consumption per To create incentives for state and local planning mile traveled or transportation system energy authorities to focus on sustainability and give consumption per capita and gives preference to the public tangible data with which to hold local projects or systems that are more energy efficient, transportation officials accountable for environmental including the effects of mass transit, bicycle and livability concerns, the US DOT should institute options, or pedestrian areas; primarily focusing on a performance-based rating system. In the form of the environment and resource use, this measure an official report card, this system would rank state also has economic implications (e.g., cost of transportation agencies and projects using a select set transportation) and social implications (e.g., health of sustainability metrics. With this yardstick, planners effects attributed to air emissions) and the public could better evaluate the life-cycle costs and benefits of transportation projects using not only • Accessibility—Measures the degree to which a conventional criteria (e.g., vehicle miles traveled) but project or system enables access to the places that also social, economic, and environmental benefits. people and goods need to go (e.g., major centers, Establishing a clear set of sustainability metrics that services, or open space) and the degree to which can be incorporated into cost/benefit analyses would transportation projects or systems serve disparate give transportation planners and decisionmakers a social groups equally; although access primarily is a financial basis for justifying sustainability projects. social measure focused on improving individual quality The scorecard concept would provide an objective of life through choice and equality, it also has financial way for the US DOT to publically recognize state and benefits as a driver of economic development local planning authorities for their accomplishments in • System Effectiveness—Measures the expected level sustainable transportation. of service quality and the ability for a transportation The performance-based scorecard concept has proven project or system to meet these standards successful in other areas of activity. One of the best consistently and reliably; measures of system known examples is the US Green Building Council’s effectiveness include average trip time, time spent in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) traffic, travel time reliability, and point-to-point costs rating system. In the absence of regulation, LEED, a (e.g., tolls, fuel, and transit fare); these metrics voluntary nongovernment program, has become a de generally are economic calculations that calculate facto standard for evaluating green buildings in public costs and productivity gains or losses, but each has and private sector development. associated social and environmental implications for local communities: quality of life, health-related Numerous sustainable transportation scorecards issues (e.g., levels of obesity and stress), air quality, have emerged recently, including the LEED-inspired energy consumption, and carbon footprint. Sustainable Transportation Access Rating System,2
Strategy 2: Enhance the Awareness of Public Strategy 3: Expand Community and PublicOfficials and State and Local Transportation Understanding of the Full Life-Cycle Benefits ofPlanners About the Benefits of, and Approaches to, Sustainable TransportationSustainable Transportation The public’s demand for sustainable transportationMoving from a paradigm in which transportation has grown considerably during the past decade. Theprogram success is measured by the number of public has demonstrated its preferences throughhighway miles created to a system that defines action and survey responses. During each of the lastsuccess by the degree to which environmental and 4 years, mass transit use has increased more thansocioeconomic conditions are enhanced now and in automobile travel. According to a survey of users ofthe future requires leadership support. Ultimately, a 30 local transit systems nationwide, people who hadparadigm shift relies on convincing public officials automobiles available made about one-third of massand state and local transportation planners of the transit trips. Numerous surveys also have indicatedimportance and value of a more balanced approach. that people view investments in public transportationAfter all, they are the front line at the regional level, positively. The 2010 US Census found that youngand their support or resistance could make the professionals in their 20s and 30s would choosedifference in whether a project is implemented. walkable and bikeable communities with access toTherefore, education is essential. Educational efforts transit over automobile-bound locales. This opinion isaimed at planners and public officials must emphasize not unique to a younger demographic; the Americanthe benefits sustainable transportation provides to Association of Retired Persons reports that 71 percenttheir communities and constituents. of older households also prefer to live within walking distance of transit.The US DOT has excellent resources and existingprograms to facilitate these educational efforts. Although the public might express a preference for moreFor example, the agency’s Transportation Planning livable communities, real data and tools with which toCapacity Building (TPCB) program is a popular make sustainable transportation choices and applyclearinghouse for information relevant to transportation pressure on decisionmakers would be very helpful. Thisprofessionals. The TPCB program supports workshops, information should encompass the following:peer-to-peer information exchanges, and the use of • Expansion of mode choice options and associatedanalytical methodologies (e.g., scenario planning). benefits to local communitiesThe TPCB should expand its offerings and developa corresponding communications strategy that • Costs of sprawling development facilitated by roadhighlights such topics as long-range sustainability expansion and the resulting fiscal, environmental,planning, sophisticated cost-benefit analyses that and public health impactsconsider environmental and social impacts, effective • Incorporation of travel costs and travel time intomechanisms for encouraging transportation mode residential location decisionsshifts, and enhanced methods for financing alternativetransportation infrastructure. • Potential for short-term increases in transportation capacity (e.g., expanding highways) to be self-These activities will enhance the understanding defeating, as high levels of service attract new trips,of sustainable transportation planning, link the resulting in more congestiontransportation planning process to community goals,and profile exemplary cases of effective transportation • Economic development generated by having multipleplanning practices. modes of transportation feeding into concentrated commercial areas. 3
Exhibit 1 lists the social, environmental, and economic impacts of transportation decisions that public outreach could highlight. Exhibit 1 | Social, Environmental, and Economic Transportation Impact Social Factors Physical Health Mental Health Mortality Equity Security Among physically able adults, Increased neighborhood Each year, 43,000 Transit ensures that the Personal cars and average annual medical walkability is associated with Americans are killed elderly, the disabled, trucks account for expenditures are 32 percent lower a reduction in the odds of and 2.7 million people children, and other 40 percent of US for those who achieve physical having significant depressive are injured seriously nondrivers can participate oil consumption activity targets (Litman, 2010). symptoms, particularly in in more than 6 million fully in the economy and (Baxandall, 2008). Transportation can affect the older men (Berke, 2007). motor vehicle crashes. society (Baxandall, 2008). Unstable supplies, achievement of these targets. For This is particularly important Motor vehicle crashes Users from low-income attributed in part instance, train commuters walked in evaluating demographic also are the leading households made most to escalating an average of 30 percent more trends associated with cause of death for transit trips. On average, international conflict, steps per day and were 4 times the aging baby-boomer Americans aged 5 to people from households create questions more likely to walk 10,000 steps population. Many commuters 44. On the other hand, with incomes of less than regarding demand per day than car commuters report that they find high- public transit has only $20,000 per year made and expose the (Wener and Evans, 2007). Further, quality public transit travel to about one-twentieth the about half of transit trips United States to a typical white male living in a be less stressful than driving passenger fatality rate (APTA, 2004). significant price compact, mixed-use community (Litman, 2010). as automobile travel volatility. weighs on average 10 pounds (Beck, 2007). less than a similar male living in a diffuse subdivision (Harder, 2007). Environmental Factors Air Quality Water Quality Climate Land Use Studies show that concentrations of Runoff pollution In 2006, passenger cars contributed about one-third Highways contribute air pollutants that commuters and currently is the number (34 percent) of the transportation-induced CO2 significantly to the other roadway users experience are one threat to water emissions (BTS, 2008). Public transportation in fragmentation of wildlife substantially higher than ambient quality in the United the United States already saves an estimated 6.9 habitat (Baxandall, 2008). air measured in typical urban air. States (NRDC, 1999). million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually (ULI, Consequently, the time a person 2007). Heavy rail transit produces about 75 percent spends in a vehicle significantly less greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile affects her or her overall exposure compared with an average single-occupancy vehicle. (EPA, 2007). Light rail transit produces 57 percent less and bus transit 32 percent less (FTA 2009). Economic Factors Economic Losses Property Value Consumer Costs Business Development In 2005, transit prevented 541 million hours of traffic Studies have shown The cost of owning and With new transportation delay in the nation’s 437 urban areas. The monetary that land in immediate operating private vehicles centers comes the need for value of those savings was $10.2 billion (Schrank and proximity of transit stops tends to be higher than increased services clustered in Lomax, 2007). Between 1980 and 2006, the proportion is generally more valuable using public transit these locations. Governments of workers driving alone to work increased from just than land farther away (Bailey, 2007). have an opportunity under two-thirds to more than three-quarters. The average (Diaz, 1999). to encourage business commuter spent 6 minutes longer driving to or from work development through asset- in 2001 than in 1983 (Baxandall, 2008). Per $1 billion building techniques such as of annual investment, public transportation investment targeted redevelopment and over time can lead to more than $1.7 billion of net revitalization strategies annual additional gross domestic product (GDP) as a (Iams and Kaplan, 2006). result of cost savings. This amount is in addition to the $1.8 billion of GDP supported by the pattern of public transportation spending (Weisbrod and Reno, 2009). Source: Booz Allen Hamilton4
ConclusionThe current formula-based grant system presents asignificant challenge to encouraging investment insustainable transportation that better supports thepublic’s needs. To shift current transportation spendingpatterns at the state and local levels, Booz Allen’sthree-part strategy incorporates the latest thinkingon effective multimodal sustainable transportationsystems that meet current and future needs. Ourstrategy leverages the insights and experiences ofexperts who have supported similar large, complex,strategic communications and transformation effortsthat cut across numerous industries and stakeholdergroups. In particular, Booz Allen’s strategy builds onexisting efforts by the US DOT, regional transportationauthorities, and private and non-profit organizations,enhancing these efforts where necessary andincorporating them into a coordinated, comprehensiveapproach. 5
About Booz Allen Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of and resources, and deliver enduring results. By strategy and technology consulting for nearly a combining a consultant’s problem-solving orientation century. Today, Booz Allen is a leading provider of with deep technical knowledge and strong execution, management and technology consulting services Booz Allen helps clients achieve success in their to the US government in defense, intelligence, and most critical missions—as evidenced by the firm’s civil markets, and to major corporations, institutions, many client relationships that span decades. Booz and not-for-profit organizations. In the commercial Allen helps shape thinking and prepare for future sector, the firm focuses on leveraging its existing developments in areas of national importance, expertise for clients in the financial services, including cybersecurity, homeland security, healthcare, and energy markets, and to international healthcare, and information technology. clients in the Middle East. Booz Allen offers clients Booz Allen is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, employs deep functional knowledge spanning strategy and more than 25,000 people, and had revenue of $5.59 organization, engineering and operations, technology, billion for the 12 months ended March 31, 2011. Fortune and analytics—which it combines with specialized has named Booz Allen one of its “100 Best Companies expertise in clients’ mission and domain areas to to Work For” for seven consecutive years. Working Mother help solve their toughest problems. has ranked the firm among its “100 Best Companies for The firm’s management consulting heritage is Working Mothers” annually since 1999. More information the basis for its unique collaborative culture and is available at www.boozallen.com. (NYSE: BAH) operating model, enabling Booz Allen to anticipate needs and opportunities, rapidly deploy talent To learn more about the firm and to download digital versions of this article and other Booz Allen Hamilton publications, visit www.boozallen.com.6