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2021 T R A N S I T C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M TCRP RESEARCH REPORT 226 Research sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation Subject Areas Public Transportation â¢ Environment An Update on Public Transportationâs Impacts on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Jen McGraw Peter Haas Center for Neighborhood Technology Chicago, IL Reid Ewing Sadegh Sabouri University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
TCRP RESEARCH REPORT 226 Project J-11/Task 36 ISSN 2572-3782 ISBN 978-0-309-67401-0 Â© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FTA, GHSA, NHTSA, or TDC endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. NOTICE The research report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transporta- tion Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the sponsors of the Transit Cooperative Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturersâ names or logos appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report. TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM The nationâs growth and the need to meet mobility, environmental, and energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Cur- rent systems, some of which are old and in need of upgrading, must expand service area, increase service frequency, and improve efficiency to serve these demands. Research is necessary to solve operating prob- lems, adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and introduce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Coopera- tive Research Program (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions to meet demands placed on it. The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special Report 213âResearch for Public Transit: New Directions, published in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Urban Mass Transportation Administrationânow the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). A report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also recognized the need for local, problem- solving research. TCRP, modeled after the successful National Coop- erative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), undertakes research and other technical activities in response to the needs of transit ser- vice providers. The scope of TCRP includes various transit research fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and administrative practices. TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Pro- posed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was authorized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by the three cooperating organi- zations: FTA; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, acting through the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and the Transit Development Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a nonprofit educational and research organization established by APTA. TDC is responsible for forming the independent governing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Commission. Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodically but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the responsibility of the TOPS Commission to formulate the research program by identi- fying the highest priority projects. As part of the evaluation, the TOPS Commission defines funding levels and expected products. Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel appointed by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for propos- als), select contractors, and provide technical guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for developing research problem statements and selecting research agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative research programs since 1962. As in other TRB activities, TCRP project panels serve voluntarily without compensation. Because research cannot have the desired effect if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on disseminat- ing TCRP results to the intended users of the research: transit agen- cies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for workshops, train- ing aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results are imple- mented by urban and rural transit industry practitioners. TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can cooperatively address common operational problems. TCRP results support and complement other ongoing transit research and training programs. Published research reports of the TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM are available from Transportation Research Board Business Office 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 and can be ordered through the Internet by going to https://www.mytrb.org/MyTRB/Store/default.aspx Printed in the United States of America
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, non- governmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org. The Transportation Research Board is one of seven major programs of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation improvements and innovation through trusted, timely, impartial, and evidence-based information exchange, research, and advice regarding all modes of transportation. The Boardâs varied activities annually engage about 8,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. Learn more about the Transportation Research Board at www.TRB.org.
C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M S AUTHOR ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The research reported herein was performed under TCRP Project J-11/Task 36 by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Jen McGraw, Principal Investigator. Peter Haas, Ph.D., Paul Esling, Jon Kuta, Preeti Shankar, and Bob Dean were contributors. Reid Ewing, Ph.D., Professor, City & Metropolitan Planning, Director of the Metropolitan Research Center, University of Utah, and Sadegh Sabouri, Ph.D. Candidate in Metropolitan Planning, Policy & Design, College of Architecture and Planning, University of Utah, designed and conducted the transit multiplier model in this report with the assistance of Wookjae Yang. Bethany Whitaker and Yanisa Techagumthorn of Nelson\Nygaard provided subject-matter expertise and conducted interviews with transit agency staff members. The project team would like to thank our interview participants for their time and insights: Sean Donaghy, Manager of Energy Programs, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA); Projjal Dutta, Director of Sustainability Initiatives, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA); Angie Gompert, Administrator, Marthaâs Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA); Sarah Ingle, Manager of Long Range Planning, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA); John Lancaster, Director of Planning & Scheduling, Memphis Area Transit Authority; and Amit Price Patel, Principal, SITELAB Urban Studio. We would also like to thank the TCRP project panel members for their guidance and contributions. CRP STAFF FOR TCRP RESEARCH REPORT 226 Christopher J. Hedges, Director, Cooperative Research Programs Lori L. Sundstrom, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs Gwen Chisholm Smith, Manager, Transit Cooperative Research Program Dianne S. Schwager, Senior Program Officer Jarrell McAfee, Senior Program Assistant Eileen P. Delaney, Director of Publications Natalie Barnes, Associate Director of Publications Doug English, Senior Editor TCRP PROJECT J-11/TASK 36 PANEL Field of Special Projects Dan Locke, Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, UT (Chair) Aliesa Marie Adelman, Wendel Companies, Buffalo, NY Sean Patrick Donaghy, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, East Boston, MA Lisa Jacobson, Barr Foundation, Boston, MA Pat Jones, New Flyer, St. Cloud, MN Serena Mau, Mau Sustainability Consulting, San Francisco, CA Michael Anthony Mendez, University of California, Irvine, Long Beach, CA Adam S. Millard-Ball, University of California, San Diego, Santa Cruz, CA Frank Southworth, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA Alan M. Warde, New York State Department of Transportation, Albany, NY Tony Greep, FTA Liaison Murtaza Kamal Naqvi, FTA Liaison Matthew Dickens, APTA Liaison
TCRP Research Report 226: An Update on Public Transportationâs Impacts on Greenhouse Gas Emissions updates aspects of previous TCRP research on public transportationâs role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and supporting sustainability. This report provides useful information that is presented in clear, easy-to-understand language amply supported by exhibits and graphics. The report will be of immediate use to local, regional, state, and national organizations concerned with public transportation, air quality, energy, sustain- ability, and climate change mitigation. Communities planning low-carbon transportation solutions will find estimates of the GHG emissions of their local transit systems, as well as information on the GHG impacts of fuels, technologies, and ridership changes. The supporting deliverables give transit agencies planning and communication tools, including ready-to-use graphics and data showing the reduced carbon footprint of an individual taking transit and transit agency contributions to GHG reduction and sustainability. As communities work to address climate change by reducing GHG emissions and becoming more resilient, many are looking to public transportation as a climate action strategy. This report provides updated analysis to transitâs previously known importance as a climate solution with a national assessment of public transportationâs GHG impacts in 2018. Public transportation in the United States saved 63 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMT CO2e) emissions in 2018âthe equivalent of taking 16 coal power plants offline for a year. Public transportationâs impacts on GHG emissions include (1) transit vehicle GHG emissions: the GHG emissions associated with transit vehicle fuel use; (2) transportation efficiency GHG savings: the GHG emissions saved by passengers riding transit rather than using personal vehicles; and (3) land use efficiency GHG savings: the GHG emis- sions saved by the broader impact of transit on vehicle miles traveled in the community. A scenario analysis to 2030 and 2050 shows the potential for public transportation to increase its GHG benefits into the future. In addition to TCRP Research Report 226, this research project produced the following deliv- erables, which can be found by searching for âTCRP Research Report 226â at www.TRB.org: 1. Factsheets. Three one-page factsheets that present key findings regarding transit as a climate solution. 2. A PowerPoint slide deck for transit agencies to add their own data for climate communications. 3. A simple spreadsheet tool that provides this studyâs 2018 GHG impact findings by tran- sit agency and allows users to apply several of the future scenarios to see how their transit agencyâs GHG impacts change with electrification, clean power, and ridership increases. F O R E W O R D By Dianne S. Schwager Staff Officer Transportation Research Board
1 Summary 5 Chapter 1 Public Transportationâs Greenhouse Gas Impacts in Context 6 Public Transportationâs GHG Reduction Actions 6 GHG Accounting Tools and Methods 7 Previous Assessments of Public Transportation GHG Impacts 7 Factors Changing Public Transportationâs GHG Impacts 8 Public Transportation Emissions in the COVID-19 Era 9 Chapter 2 Research Approach 10 Research Approach 10 Calculating Emissions from Transit Vehicle Activity 11 Transportation Efficiency: Calculating Avoided Emissions from Transit Passenger Travel 12 Land Use Efficiency: Calculating Avoided Emissions from Community Travel 14 Public Transportation Scenarios for 2030 and 2050 15 Chapter 3 National Sustainability Benefits of Public Transportation 15 Public Transportationâs GHG Savings 17 Public Transportationâs VMT and Fuel Impacts 18 Importance of Equity and Health 19 Reduced Carbon Footprint of Individuals Using Public Transit 20 Emissions per Passenger Mile by Transit Mode 22 Transit Agency Contributions to GHG Emission Reduction and Sustainability 27 National Sustainability Benefits of Public Transportation by Mode 29 Public Transportation Scenarios for 2030 and 2050 32 Chapter 4 Conclusions and Suggested Research 32 Public Transportation Is Essential to Climate Action 33 Suggested Research 36 Appendix A GHG Analysis Methodology 47 Appendix B Transit Multiplier Methodology 58 Appendix C GHG Impacts by Transit Agency, 2018 105 Abbreviations 106 Glossary 108 References C O N T E N T S