A recently released study by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) points to mass transit as one of the key weapons in the fight against global warming.
According to the APTA study:
…a person who rides public transportation instead of driving reduces his or her carbon dioxide output, a harmful greenhouse gas, by more than 20 lbs a day and 4,800 lbs annually. That saves more than weatherizing a home, adjusting a thermostat, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs and replacing older appliances with higher efficiency models, combined. A national climate change strategy that doesn’t embrace public transportation has simply missed the bus.
Congressmen James L. Oberstar (D-MN) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee both expressed concern over the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and were vocal in their support of APTA’s recommendations to achieve a sustainable national mass transit system.
Congress has yet to have a serious, comprehensive debate about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. As the APTA report shows, however, increasing use of public transportation will be central to the discussion about how to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.
The APTA study indicates that the increase in vehicle-miles-traveled in the U.S. has led to accelerated emissions. Buying more fuel-efficient cars does not offer a sufficient solution. We need to stop driving so much to make a dent in the greenhouse emissions. As William W. Millar, president of APTA, says, "A household does not need to go to the expense of buying a new vehicle to make a difference; they can simply take advantage of the nation’s existing bus or rail services to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint."
While I agree with Millar’s sentiment, I think the nation needs to offer a far superior product than the "existing" mass transit system. We need to stop subsidizing the automobile, and put our money where it will yield a more efficient, greener transportation system.
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