riders on bus

Benefits of Transportation Efficiency

[From the 2021 Washington State Energy Strategy] Transportation efficiency can be implemented in two basic ways:

  1. Reduce the need for travel: either shortening the distance that people and goods have to travel (e.g., through improved urban design) or avoiding the need for trips altogether (e.g., via telemedicine).
  2. Shift travel to more efficient modes, such as public transit or maritime freight transport, which can move more passengers or goods per trip.

Any single approach, if pursued in isolation, is likely to

have limited effectiveness. King County (PDF), for example, has found that achieving Vehicle Miles Traveled reduction goals is going to take combining land-use policy (focusing on compact, transit-oriented development), enhancement of transit service and travel-demand management policies including vehicle usage charges.

Bicycle riders

Efficient Urban Development

A Center for Clean Air Policy analysis concludes efficient urban development improves the economic circumstances for businesses, households, and governments by:

  • Increasing property values.
  • Cutting fuel and infrastructure costs.
  • Creating jobs.
  • Enhancing public health.
  • Strengthening communities.
A group of people gathered in discussion around a map

Bundling Strategies

A 2010 WSDOT analysis suggests bundles of transit, high occupancy vehicle and commuter, land use/smart growth, non-motorized, and pricing strategies can reduce vehicle miles traveled by 10 to 28 percent from the future 2050 baseline, depending on their funding level and aggressiveness.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction

A national study found transportation efficient land use strategies alone could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.3 percent to 2.1 percent by 2050. Changes in land use development patterns coupled with improved transit and transportation options can achieve more notable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from 9 percent to 15 percent.

Man stepping off the public pus onto the sidewalk

Emissions from vehicles are one the largest contributors to air pollution in Washington State (2011 Comprehensive Emissions Inventory Summary Data, Washington State Department of Ecology). Fewer trips will lead to less emissions and improved health, especially in minority groups who are exposed to more traffic related air pollution (Residential Proximity to Major Highways – United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. November 2013; 62(3);46-50.). Exposure to traffic related air pollution exasperates asthma and may also cause the onset of asthma and other respiratory problems (HEI Panel on the Health Effects of Traffic-Related Air Pollution. Traffic-related air pollution: a critical review of the literature on emissions, exposure, and health effects. HEI Special Report 17. Boston, MA: Health Effects Institute; 2010).

Improving The Future Together

We can help reduce daily driving trips to reduce negative impacts of driving by taking strategic steps now. This will help leave a world where generations can work, play, and access services in a safe, reliable, and healthy manner.

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