&EPA
        230S98001

         United States
         Environmental Protection
         Agency
               Office of
               the Administrator
               Washington, DC 20460
June 1998
www.epa.gov
Environmental Futures
and Transportation
Roundtable
         Meeting Summary

         April 14,1998
         Washington, DC

-------

-------
             Environmental Futures and Transportation Roundtable
                                       April 14,1998

                                  MEETING SUMMARY
 Purpose
The Roundtable was convened to stimulate discussion among leaders from industry,
environmental, transportation and community organizations, academia, and government on
possible environmental challenges facing our nation in the next 30-50 years resulting from trends
in transportation. To better prepare to meet these challenges, the Roundtable focused on
strategies for developing tomorrow's transportation systems in ways that meet our needs for
mobility and accessibility while also protecting public health and the environment.

Background

EPA traditionally has acted to reduce environmental threats that are immediate or near-term. The
Agency's actions usually are driven by evidence of environmental deterioration, widespread
public concern, federal laws, or a combination of the three.  In "Beyond the Horizon," (EPA-
SAB-EC-95-007) EPA's Science Advisory Board emphasized the value for EPA and all sectors
of society in anticipating future environmental conditions as a guide for taking action now to
reduce or avoid future environmental problems.  The benefits of this foresight are economic,
environmental, and social. For this reason, the Science Advisory Board urged the Agency, in
concert with other stakeholders, to develop a "futures" capability, anticipating future
environmental conditions and analyzing the actions needed to improve them.

The Environmental Futures and Transportation Roundtable was the fourth in a series of
international and domestic fora organized by EPA in pursuit of this objective.  Chaired by EPA
Deputy Administrator Fred Hansen, the Roundtable was preceded by discussions among the G-8
countries on the long-range environmental implications of possible future directions of transport.
(See EPA 160-R-98-002 for proceedings of  the most recent G-8 meeting, and EPA  160-R-004 for
proceedings of the first G-8 futures  forum).

The following conclusions from the G-8 forum provided a point of departure for discussions at
the Roundtable:

       "... current trends in transport and technological innovation will deliver further
       improvements in local air quality from now to the first decade or two of the next century, if
       combined with appropriate fiscal or regulatory measures. However, additional measures
       are already needed, and will become more urgent in subsequent years, to achieve the goals
       outlined in Kyoto and to address impacts on land use, habitats, noise and urban
       environment. In the longer term, fundamentally new transport technologies must be found,
       combined with a successful effort to decouple transport growth from economic growth."

-------
 The Forum went on to recommend that G-8 Environment and Transport Ministers, in close
 consultation with the public:

       undertake research on environment and transport relationships, including behavioral
        factors;

       examine how best to integrate environment and transport policies; and

       establish a best practices program on environment and transport issues among the G-8
        countries.
                                            t

 The Forum also recognized that no simple, single-faceted answer existed for addressing
 transportation and environmental issues.  For example, technology development will be a key
 part of the strategy, but technology alone is not enough to create the fundamental changes that
 are necessary over the long-term. Additionally, pricing of fuel and transportation infrastructure
 so that true costs are internalized better is important. However, transportation has proven to not
 be a very price sensitive component of household budgets and even major price signal increases
 are also unlikely to, by themselves, generate the changes necessary.

 Just prior to the Roundtable,  the G-8 environment ministers endorsed this G-8 futures work and
 called on the G-8 countries to take steps to better understand the long-term impacts of
 transportation trends by identifying best practices in this area.  The Roundtable therefore
 represents an important first step in the US effort to address the Ministers' mandate.

 Opportunities for Progress

 The Roundtable discussion resulted in the recognition of the need to address several issues in
 order to more effectively prepare and plan for the future.
Indicators of Progress

In addition to answering basic questions about sustainability, indicators for measuring progress
or lack thereof should be determined, as well as methods for measuring those indicators.
Potential indicator options discussed by participants include vehicle miles traveled, accessibility
of choice, and time expenditures. These indicators will help measure performance as well as
direction of current and future activities, especially as the need for mobility expands in ways that
cannot now be clearly foreseen.

Innovative Policies and Leadership

Throughout history we have too often over or under estimated the nature of future problems,
failed to predict key developments that change what is needed or what is possible, and looked to

-------
 technological solutions that were later shown to have adverse impacts of their own.  Examples
 include the predictions of oil and natural gas scarcity and the car as a clean alternative to horses
 in urban environments.  These experiences illustrate the need for designing a flexible approach to
 reaching our desired future.

 Comprehensive approaches are also vital to the ability to effect long-term fundamental changes.
 Transportation policies in the United States are complicated by the fact that outcomes are
 determined by strong linkages with land-use patterns, economic activity, and more than 275
 million individuals making complex choices. For any strategy to be effective it must pursue
 technological, market based, public policy, private partnership and public education approaches
 at the same time.

 It was also noted that we often have a difficult time making progress on issues that are complex
 and do not have immediate consequences.  Therefore, developing a road map of where we are
 going would be helpful. A strategic vision that articulates both why it is important to make
 fundamental changes and creates positive visions of how we get there will be needed to make
 progress.

 Spreading Innovation

 An encouraging current trend is the development of a number of locally based innovations that
 take a fresh approach to addressing transportation and environmental quality issues.  However,
 these innovations are generally spread at a slow pace, effecting the rate of the adoption of these
 innovations elsewhere. The increased pace at which regional economic  and land development
 patterns are changing adds urgency to "increasing the pace at which the  system is able to learn
 and adapt."

 Vital to improving transportation and environmental problems is the development of better
 mechanisms to disseminate information with respect to best practices. Also, education of both
 the policy makers and the public is important to effectuating change. Participants  agreed that this
 education should most likely begin with the creation of a common vocabulary regarding goals,
 drivers, and the nature of solutions. Citizens should also be educated in order to comprehend the
 relevance of transportation and environmental issues to their everyday lives.

 Research

 Further research is required to better understand and clearly define relevant factors and drivers in
 transportation decisions, both individually and institutionally. Individual variables in the system
 need to be identified  as well as influencing factors on those variables. These include, but are not
 limited to: 1) technological innovations that reduce impacts and increase system efficiencies; 2)
understanding behavior and how choices are set up or influenced; and 3) policies that provide
appropriate incentives and/or information and/or options for people to respond to.  To further
complete the  level of understanding, a critical examination of the trends  in transportation and

-------
related environmental impacts and possible implications of these trends needs to continue in
order to direct a path towards the desired future.

The Path Ahead

Strong leadership by both the public and private sector will be needed to create the fundamental
changes required to meet growing demands for mobility through transportation systems that are
environmentally tenable.  At the same time better planning and flexible approaches are needed in
addressing the challenge.  Transportation and its impact on the environment is an extremely
complex issue.  There are no single solutions that will create the change that is needed.  Instead,
a set of effective solutions that balance public policy, public and private investments, market
based strategies and community based efforts must be initiated locally and spread nationally.

Discussion Summary

Deputy Administrator Hansen provided opening remarks on EPA's interest in finding areas of
environmental policy in which we can look beyond the horizon and toward long-term issues.
The urban form and its impacts on the environment and quality of life is one of the most
important areas for long-term thinking.

There are a mixture of scientific and policy questions that must be answered in looking far out
into the future.  The examination of these questions will lead us to think about what each of us
can do to respond now in anticipation of future challenges.

The objectives for this Roundtable discussion as described by Deputy Administrator Hansen
were to:

      stimulate each other's thinking about the future of our environment and how
       transportation influences this future;

      envision cooperative efforts that could arise from our insights;

      focus on novel environmental issues rather than the issues that pre-occupy us today.

A series of insights emerged from the discussion that followed about challenges we are likely to
face over the next thirty to fifty years. The importance of developing a common understanding
of the problems we face, indicators to define progress, better knowledge of underlying forces that
shape transportation systems, improved understanding of preferences that influence
transportation and location choices, as well as increasing the pace of change and dissemination of
innovative approaches across the country were key issues identified by Roundtable participants.

The following summary organizes participant comments by themes that emerged during the
discussion.  These themes are not statements of Roundtable participant consensus, nor are they

-------
 intended to fully characterize the range of participant comments on the transportation trends that
 will shape future environmental challenges. Instead, they provide an organizing framework to
 convey a sense of the dynamic interaction that occurred among participants at the meeting.

 The Challenge of Looking into the Future

 Although participants described their vision of the future in individual terms, commonalities did
 emerge throughout the discussion. The importance of striking the right balance between futures
 thinking and progress in solving today's problems was consistently raised. Progress in achieving
 transportation and environmental improvements is essential to properly foster momentum
 towards future solutions.  By striking the correct balance, futures thinking can help the United
 States to better prepare for the environmental and transportation challenges of the twenty-first
 century while ensuring that current efforts to move forward continue.

 Participants recognized that policies and actions related to the transportation sector have
 historically been reactive.  As a result,  transportation problems and challenges have often
 outstripped those efforts designed to address them. This was noted as one of the important
 reasons to focus on futures thinking with respect to transportation.

 In envisioning a cleaner environment in the future, with fewer impacts from both transportation
 and other potential environmentally detrimental activities, participants noted the importance of a
 healthy balance of government, public, and industry action with respect to providing, operating,
 and leveraging transportation systems.  These systems would be more efficient, allowing for
 more trips on the same system. Transportation options would also be readily accessible,
 providing transport users with genuine choices when making  decisions  as to how to achieve
 desired  levels of mobility.  This accessibility would include, but not be  limited to, locating public
 transport in a greater number of places, creating greater flexibility in scheduling, and planning
 social and economic services in close proximity to transit stations as well as enabling more
pedestrian friendly transport. The true costs of using different modes of transport would also be
readily apparent to all users. External costs to health and the  environment would play a role in
transportation decision-making and pricing. This would allow for the consequences of
transportation practices and decisions to be widely known.

-------
 The Path to the Future

 Roundtable participants agreed that the path to this envisioned future should begin with a clearly
 articulated definition of transportation and environmental problems and a measure of their scope.
 Defining the problem would require comprehensive assessments of the behavioral, technological,
 and economic factors effecting both transportation and the environment. All stakeholders could
 then be "on the same page" when addressing transportation and environmentally related issues.
 With this common understanding of the issues, stakeholders would be able to proceed towards
 the future from a common reference. Participants stressed that this exercise itself will not
 necessarily reveal, in the present, all the decisions that need to be made to achieve the desired
 future.  This process could instead be the basis for beginning a more iterative process in planning
 and achieving mobility which would also respond quickly to new information and the need for
 adaptation.

 Roundtable participants discussed several approaches for moving towards the future. One
 consisted of a series of smaller steps, adjustments and improvements to present practices in
 order to redirect the current path  toward the desired future. Such an adjustment might, for
 example, consist of providing more and better public transit options with increased service.  A
 second approach required major structural and institutional changes that might redefine or
 eliminate current practices that are detrimental to the environment. One example of a significant
 change might be increasing the cost of fuel. Price signaling through a price increase would raise
 the total cost of travel, thereby creating the basis for a possible change in travel decisions.
 Others suggested that the path to the desired future may be a combination of both smaller
 adjustments and major realignments.  It was agreed that the definition of both the problem and a
 measurement of the scope of the problem would help identify the best approach.

 Regardless of the character of the approach chosen, Roundtable participants generally agreed that
 it should embrace more proactive steps, breaking the historical tendency to address transportation
 issues largely in a reactive manner. The types and numbers of choices that must be considered
 should also be comprehensive, addressing the full series of interlocking economic and
 environmental issues and drivers. Among those issues, participants listed land use patterns,
 technological innovation, patterns of economic and trade related transportation choices, and
 changes in personal travel decisions. Key drivers influencing the environmental response to
 transportation impacts include climate change, air quality, congestion issues, and habitat
 loss/fragmentation. In addition, another driver raised was the quality of life overall, especially
with respect to length of time  spent commuting and personal safety associated with other modes
of travel (biking, walking, etc.).

While needing to be comprehensive, it was agreed that the path towards the envisioned future
also needs to be flexible, allowing for necessary adjustments and adaptions to unforeseen
consequences. An example raised was that of the introduction of the car in the early 20th
century.  At the time cars were viewed as the answer to solving the sanitation and public health
problems created by the use of horses; however, the nature and amount of pollution to be created

-------
 by the car was not foreseen. Any approach taken in the future needs to allow for adjustments to
 address the inevitable appearance of unforeseen consequences.

 Creating/Influencing the Desired Future

 In moving toward this desired future, participants generally agreed that it is imperative to also
 address more immediate environmental and transportation problems. Solving specifically
 defined current problems would have a positive environmental effect both in the present and
 future. The development of unleaded gasoline was raised as a historical example . In that
 scenario a clearly defined problem existed - lead in air - and was targeted for resolution -
 removing lead from gasoline. The resulting success in doing so had positive health and
 environmental consequences for both the present and future. In this context, it was noted that an
 important aspect of engaging in these immediate steps is that interim successes develop
 confidence and momentum by creating positive change now.

 Also important is the role of different stakeholders in addressing the impact of transportation on
 the environment. Environmentalists and public interests play an important role in bringing
 current and potential environmental problems to light. Government then can create the policy to
 further address those problems and encourage and/or regulate responses that can fix the problem.
 Business and the public must embrace  these policies and respond to them by taking appropriate
 action.

 Understanding and Promoting Change

 Technological Change: Participants discussed several influences on the development and
 direction of the desired future. Participants agreed that among the most important of these
 influences is the development and application of innovative technology, affecting both
 transportation and the environment.  These positive technological innovations include both
 environmentally beneficial specific applications and transportation system oriented
 developments. Technologies such as fuel cells, alternative fuel vehicles, and global positioning
 systems could significantly affect how  and in which way people travel in the future. It was
 stressed, however, that  although technology is a critical element of future change, it cannot be
 solely relied upon to achieve the desired future.  Technological innovations can also replace one
 known problem with a yet to be discovered problem, and hence should not be viewed as a
 panacea.

 Governmental Leadership: Governmental decision-making and leadership was included as an
 important factor influencing the future.  A  key part of that leadership is taking the lead in
 establishing the desired goals and initiating policies that allow the public the flexibility to
 determine solutions  to meet those goals. The federal government should also serve as a role-
model by sending the right messages through both action and policy.  One example of public
 sector leadership that is troubling is the number of employees in the B.C. area who currently
have free or subsidized parking. This practice does not encourage employees to chose alternative

-------
 means of transit to travel to work. Participants agreed that government must lead in policies that
 support and encourage the right kind of behavior.

 Government also has an important role in public education. In order to create changes in
 behavior, the public should be aware of the issues and costs associated with transportation and its
 impact on the environment.  Positive examples of government-lead nationwide campaigns that
 have affected behavior include those against cigarette smoking and drunk driving, and for seat
 belt use. By engaging in education and awareness campaigns, the government can have a
 profound influence on the development and use of transportation in the future.

 In addition, governmental institutions should lead and manage change. Government may have
 an impact on the future by restructuring those governmental institutions created to address
 nineteenth century issues in a manner which will more effectively address the challenges of the
 twenty-first century.  For instance, in the United Kingdom, a single, unified Department of the
 Environment, Transport, and the Regions was created in .1997. This consolidation represented a
 recognition of the need to integrate environmental and transport planning. A transformation in
 the way the government engages its citizens in decision-making will also be necessary to enlist
 support for a forward-looking, rather than reactive, approach to developing  transportation
 options.

 Influencing Supply and Demand for Transport:  Also influencing the future will be the
 response of the transportation system to the demand .for and supply of different modes of
 transportation. Although these responses are not readily quantifiable at this time, there are
 several important behavioral factors that affect demand and supply, and the response of the
 transportation system to them.

 Among those factors discussed were the range of incentives and disincentives that influence
 behavior and choice.  The need for incentives with longer life spans was raised in order to
 encourage commitment to long-term actions and allow for those investing to see a return on
 those commitments. For instance, companies considering investing in modes of transport now
 that will be used for the next 25 years need strong incentives to invest up-front in cleaner, more
 efficient modes of transportation. By providing strong incentives now, the benefits of
 transportation decisions will span over the greater lengths of time needed for return on
 investment.   In addition, more policies are needed that create the opportunities for the right
 incentives to emerge. One participant shared how his organization responded to a state law
 requiring reduction in single occupancy vehicle use by implementing a company-wide policy that
 provided incentives to employees to use alternative methods of transport (e.g. car pools and van
 pools). The policy was implemented through educating employees about options available to
 them, allowing employees to make their own choices based on those options, company
 leadership and benefits, and forming partnerships with local transportation providers.  By
providing modest incentives to employees, the company realized a dramatic shift in transport
behaviors, at little overall cost. Participants noted that these types of programs had a positive

-------
 effect on both the environment and business, and that benefits can be provided to the employees
 of the company who shift their transportation choices.

 In addition to providing those using transportation with the right incentives, discussion also
 focused on the responsibility of the public and private sectors to provide incentives to
 researchers, academics, and industry to solve specific transportation and environmental
 problems. Policies should also be applied consistently across different modes of transport. For
 example, a policy that creates incentives to reduce  truck transport should not be met with
 restrictive rail regulations that are a disincentive to choosing that mode of transport. Participants
 stressed that disincentives to responsible transportation and environmental choices need to be
 identified and addressed in order to have a coherent positive  effect on behavior.

 Consumer Preference: Roundtable participants addressed the important behavioral element of
 consumer preference, recognizing that everyday there are over 275 million people in the United
 States making choices related to transportation. Many factors influence consumer preference,
 including the convenience and/or safety of using alternative modes of transportation. In addition,
 the perceived status of different transportation modes also influences the choices made by
 individual consumers. To exemplify the impact of status perception, an example with respect to
 the use of buses in affluent East and West Hampton, New York was raised. Buses are frequently
 perceived as an undesirable means of transportation, however in the Hamptons, buses were
 redesigned and called jitneys, thereby increasing ridership by a large percentage.

 Personal Choice in Transport Modes: Another important behavioral influence raised was
 access to transportation alternatives.  True choice for the public implies accessibility to multiple,
 affordable and flexible modes of transportation. Ideally, public transportation systems would be
 affordable, provide regular routes and reliable service, and have adequate operating intervals and
 times of service. Equally important would be the need to ensure a certain level of safety while
 traveling via alternative modes of transport.  For example, officials in Great Britain saw an
 increased percentage in single vehicle trips and discovered that a significant percent of that
 increase was due to parents driving children to school. Officials realized that the increase in
 school trips was due to parental concern about the welfare of their children when walking or
 bicycling between school and home.  This concern effectively eliminated non-motorized
 transport as an option.  In San Francisco, many schools terminated bus services because of high
 insurance costs and school district budgetary constraints. Without safe walking or biking
 alternatives, many children are how driven to school by parents there as well.

 The link between social service programs and transportation illustrates another facet of
 accessibility. By providing public transport users with true choices, a percentage of the
population (the aged, children, and low income) now effectively without access to adequate and
affordable transportation would have greater opportunity to explore other choices. One
participant noted that a company has been actively involved with a welfare to work program.  It
facilitated reverse commuting in order to bring inner city workers to suburban work sites and
also to provide access to child care. By working with local transportation providers and day care

-------
 providers, the company has been able to ensure that these employees would be able to get to and
 from work as their schedules required.

 In addition to accessibility and flexibility, another element of choice discussed by the group was
 information and education. By being fully aware of the available choices and the effects of those
 choices, transportation users have the ability to understand the choices they need to make for
 both adequate mobility and environmental protection  to occur.

 Land Use Practices and Transport Decisions: Participants discussed the influence of
 locational decisions on chosen modes of transport. Locating businesses, public buildings,
 shopping areas, child care facilities, and other services based upon proximity to public transport,
 has a positive effect on the use of public transportation.  One example discussed was the
 construction of the MCI Center in downtown Washington D.C.  The Capitol Center, located
 outside of Washington D.C. in Maryland, previously housed sporting events and concerts and
 was not centrally located to public transportation. Consequently, almost 100% of those attending
 events at the arena traveled via automobile.  The new MCI Center was constructed in downtown
 Washington D.C., in close proximity to a metro rail station. Now 60-70% of those attending
 events at the center use public transportation to get there. Focusing appropriate mixed use
 planning around transit sites also ensures that communities have access to public transport.  The
 significant effect of these types of locational decisions on behavior and choice, as well as on the
 overall vitality  of city centers, was recognized byRoundtable participants.

 "Smart Growth" practices were also discussed as having an important influence on transport
 behavior.  One strategy was outlined where funds were invested, both transportation and other
 capital investments, in a manner consistent with smart land use practices.  The goal of such
 policies is to re-direct spending toward designated areas of growth and away from sprawl
 development - on the fringe of urban or suburban areas.  Recognizing and acting upon this
 important link between economics and land  use could greatly affect infrastructure and land use
 patterns. For instance, approximately eighty percent of personal vehicle trips taken in the U.S.
 are non-work related.  By improving the economic health, encouraging investment in mixed-use
 or transit oriented development in core areas, this number may be reduced as the necessity for
 automobile travel is diminished.

 The importance of neighborhood design can also influence behavior and choice. Urban design
 that pays attention to the needs of pedestrians and bicycles rather than simply maximizing car
 traffic flows are essential to making non-motorized transportation a more viable option. If such
 infrastructure doesn't exist or travelers feel that the option is not viable because of personal
 safety concerns, then walking and/or riding will not be an effective transport option.  Participants
 discussed the possibility of planning auto-free  communities which would by default create safe
pedestrian venues rather than auto dependent residential developments. By planning in a manner
that is pedestrian friendly and incorporates public transit, communities will more likely be
committed to planned land use patterns because of the transport benefits.
                                           10

-------
 Information Dissemination: Critical to inducing change is the development and dissemination
 of best practices.  It is apparent that there is a need to improve information sharing about what
 does and does not work. Important to improving transportation systems will be an acceleration
 of the pace of information sharing regarding best practices. Some experience does exist with
 respect to what practices work and do not work; emphasis therefore should be placed on effective
 dissemination of this knowledge. Concurrently, further practical experience and research is
 needed on the critical factors influencing the overall demand for transportation and the selection
 of system options.

 Partnerships: The Roundtable explored different avenues for developing cooperative
partnerships; not only within the government, but between the public sector, private sector,
communities and non-profit organizations.  An important outcome of the Roundtable was the
recognition of the importance of building relationships that facilitate the joint development of
flexible, forward looking approaches to future environmental challenges.
                                          11

-------
                            Appendix A: List of Participants
 Fred Hansen
 Deputy Administrator
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 Mortimer Downey
 Deputy Secretary
 U.S. Department of Transportation

 Robert H. Campbell
 Chairman & CEO
 Sun Oil Company

 Damian J. Kulash
 President & CEO
 Eno Transportation Foundation, Inc.

 Hank Dittmar
 Executive Director
 Surface Transportation Planning Project

 Jacky Grimshaw
 Transportation Director
 Center for Neighborhood Technology

 Elizabeth Deakin
 Professor of Urban Planning
 University of California, Berkeley

 Mack Hogans
 Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs
 Weyerhaeuser Company

 John L. Duve
Advanced Transportation Systems Manager
 San Diego Association of Governments

 Richard A. White
 General Manager
 Washington Metropolitan Area Transit
Authority
Sheryl W. Washington,
Vice-President, Public Affairs
United Parcel Service

David Winstead
Secretary
Maryland Department of Transportation

David Gardiner
Assistant Administrator, Office of Policy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Janno Lieber
Assistant Secretary,
Office of the Assistant Secretary for
Transportation Policy
U.S. Department of Transportation
                                          12

-------

-------

-------