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Report from Transportation Organizations Calls for 20% Cut in Petroleum Usage by 2015, Doubling New Fleet Fuel Economy by 2020, Doubling Fuel Economy of Entire Fleet by 2030

Global economic competition, metropolitan congestion, and global climate change are among the new dynamics that require “new thinking” in the US transportation system of the future, according to a major new report by 17 organizations representing the nation’s transportation builders, providers, and users.

The report’s recommendations on climate change include: cutting oil consumption by 20% in the next decade; doubling the fuel efficiency of new passenger cars and light trucks by 2020, and the entire fleet by 2030; doubling transit ridership by 2030 and significantly expanding the market share of passengers and freight moved by rail; reducing growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) from three trillion in 2006 to five trillion, rather than the projected seven trillion, by 2055; and reducing the percentage of commuters who drive alone and increasing the percentage of those who ride public transit, carpool, walk, bike, or work at home.

Transportation represents 32 percent of domestic carbon emissions and is the fastest growing source of these emissions. Our surface transportation system emits more carbon dioxide than the total for any nation in the world from all sources (except China). Highway vehicles generate 72 percent of these emissions.

Transportation must lead in finding solutions. Inevitably, global warming will change the way we live, work, and travel. Actions to reduce transportation CO2 emissions, especially cars, trucks and air travel, are especially important.

The report—A New Vision for the 21st Century—was submitted jointly to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, created by Congress to analyze and make recommendations on how to equip the nation’s transportation system to meet future needs.

Participating groups include the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO); AAA; the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC); the American Highway Users Alliance; the American Public Transportation Association (APTA); the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA); the American Trucking Associations (ATA); the Association of American Railroads (AAR); and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

The vision and strategies which the report contains were distilled from research reports, panel discussions, white papers, and a three-day conference convened by AASHTO 21-23 May 2007. The broad public and private sector participation represented every aspect of America’s surface transportation system.

Other key recommendations of the report are:

  • Increase core program funding for highways and transit, recognizing the need for strategic national investments outside the Highway Trust Fund and making the transition, when necessary, from fuel taxes to a more diversified, reliable funding base. The federal commitment to this longstanding federal/state partnership must be sustained.

  • Preserve and modernize the transportation system already in place. Improve that system’s performance through management and applied technology.

  • Invest in public transportation, with a high-quality, high-capacity public transportation system in every metro area within 15 years.

  • Establish an intercity passenger rail system that is well connected to other modes, such as airports, and to commuter rail and other transit services. Congress should enact a national system of intercity passenger rail including resolution of Amtrak’s role and fund pilot projects to demonstrate the feasibility of high speed passenger rail service.

  • Reduce the 50% of congestion now caused by lack of capacity. Add highway capacity, including a “critical commerce corridors” approach creating roadways exclusively dedicated to freight movement and financed outside the Highway Trust Fund; increase Interstate highway capacity by 80%; and fix the 100 worst freight bottlenecks in the nation by 2015.

  • Move aggressively to address transportation system safety, with the goal of halving roadway fatalities by the year 2030.

(A hat-tip to Bob!)




The AAR (listed above) are already projecting a 67% increase in rail freight business in the next few years and are preparing with new hirings.

Joe Rocker

Raise the gas tax a penny a month forever and people will gradually use less gas. They won't be able to afford driving 40 miles to work in a Lincoln Navigator. Use the money to subsidize light rail and hybrids.


Given the mix of organizations (including the ATA), the politics of the conference must have been intense.


Joe Rocker,

I like your idea. One cent doesn't sound like much, and it would take a while for people to feel the effect. But after a few years you'd have a real incentive to buy a more efficient car.

P Schager

In case anyone is still wondering why they aren't building any more oil refineries, as some in Congress have called for to hold down fuel prices short-term, this should lay the question to rest. If a mainstream swath of representatives of the relevant influential captains of industry (and smart money) like this think that we're already burning more than enough petroleum fuel, then smart money isn't going to be building any more refineries. Investing in what will become surplus long before it can pay back is buying a pig in a poke. Congressmen who try to push something like this through are serving no one but OPEC. Pain at the gas pump due to refinery capacity issues is just an exclamation point on how overdue we are to slow down the flood of guzzlers.

Meanwhile, the Senate passes a measure which guarantees three more years before any new pressure on Detroit's production, and tells us they've worked a miracle.

Joe Rocker:

Yes, there is nothing wrong with taxing ICE gas guzzlers out of existance. If one cent a month won't do it, 2 or 3 may.

Unfortunatly, with elections coming, most politicians will not dare.

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