The transportation sector contributes 40% of Connecticut’s total greenhouse gas emissions that disproportionately harm urban, low-income, and minority populations in our state. If we want to meet our carbon reduction goals and fight climate change, it's critical that we work together to devise new solutions centered on public transportation, electrification, and more. Connecticut is long over-do for transportation reform. We need to be investing in public transportation, electric vehicles and electric buses, cleaning up our roadways, and above all - transitioning from a fossil fuel-based transportation sector to one that will be sustainable for generations to come.
Electric, zero-emission vehicles are necessary to combat climate change and improve public health. The burning of fossil fuels through internal combustion engines (ICE) is detrimental to our environment and our health. Pollution from these vehicles has rapidly increased asthma and other lung related diseases especially in children and the elderly. By electrifying our vehicles we can clean up our air and water and reduce health impacts.
Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill during the 2019 Session to transition a portion of the state fleet, including public buses, to zero-emission vehicles. The General Assembly also implemented a sustainable source of funding for electric vehicle infrastructure.
We applaud our lawmakers focus on electric vehicle infrastructure, however, we need to ensure that everyone has access to electric vehicles (EV), not just those living in urban areas where charging stations already exist. Expanding to rural areas will require adequate funding for infrastructure and incentives for residents to buy these vehicles. Unfortunately, in October 2019, CT DEEP drastically cut electric vehicles rebates. Cutting EV rebates is not going to help Connecticut expand into rural areas.
GOVERNOR LAMONT'S CT2030 TRANSPORTATION PLAN
In November 2019 Governor Lamont issued his transportation plan to upgrade roads, railways, and airports. This is a great first step with particular focus on cleaner transit options like public transportation.
While the CT2030 plan allows for major funding for the commuter rails and some funding for upgraded bus transit, the plan needs to go further. Unfortunately, the plan does not have the emphasis on environment and climate change we would like to see. As this plan will be in effect for more than 50 years into the future, it is critical that we make changes now to accommodate the environment. The expansion of roads and highways is the opposite of what Connecticut needs to be doing to clean up our air and water.
The CT2030 plan also does not adequately address the need for better biking and walking trails across the state. These trails take cars off the road, reducing congestion and emissions. This is an environmental, equity, and safety issue. Many people across the state cannot afford vehicles and rely on these trails and public transportation to get around.
In order to have an equitable, environmentally-sound transportation sector Connecticut needs to focus on all types of transit, not just passenger vehicles.
TRANSPORTATION AND CLIMATE INITIATIVE
The Transportation and Climate Initiative is a regional, multi-state effort to reduce emissions in the transportation sector. Thirteen states from Maine to Virginia, including DC, are part of the initiative put together by Our Transportation Future Coalition.
Through a fee on prime fossil fuel suppliers in the transportation sector, Connecticut will be able to re-invest funds to cross-cutting issues such as housing, health, access to transportation and jobs, climate change, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Connecticut's major urban centers are overrun with traffic congestion, causing some of the worst air quality in the nation. In the rural areas of the state, people are deprived of economic growth due to lack of connectivity with the rest of the state and region. Our work with TCI has equity as a first and foremost goal. Any transportation reform in the state must first focus on our under-served and overburdened communities.
In order to push TCI forward state advocates looked for the input of everyone through the CT Transportation Future Survey. Check out the summarized results of CT's Transportation Future Survey. The full results can be found here. This statewide survey received responses from almost 1,000 people across the state including advocates, lawmakers, and community members. This survey will be used to tell our administration that Connecticut residents want upgraded transportation infrastructure that focuses on reducing carbon emissions.