Todd Litman's blog

Comprehensive Analysis of Transit Energy Conservation Benefits

A recent report by the libertarian Cato Institute, Does Rail Transit Save Energy or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?, claims that public transit service improvements are ineffective at conserving energy and reducing pollution emissions. But this conclusion is based on faulty analysis.

Smart Transport Emission Reductions

Last week I attended the NREL Energy Analysis Forum, where leading North American energy analysts discussed current thinking concerning greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies, much of which involves emission cap and trade programs (as summarized in the report by Resources for the Future, "Key Congressional Climate Change Legislation Compared"). Similarly, a recent report, "Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much At What Cost" evaluates emission reduction strategies according to their cost effectiveness.

Place Trumps Mobility Equals Paradise

Although it is sometimes difficult to recognize in day-to-day planning activities, our ultimate goal is to make the world better, that is, to help create paradise on earth. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

There are two different and often conflicting concepts of how to create paradise. It is important that planners understand the differences between them.

Is Community Just Another Commodity?

A commodity is something that is normally bought and sold. Not everything is a commodity. Sure, most people need to purchase a certain amount of food, clothing and housing, but many other things that we value are not for sale.

For example, simply purchasing exercise equipment will not make you physically fit – it requires effort. Similarly, health, safety, education, rewarding personal relationships, community and our satisfaction with life are aspirations that depend more on our behavior than on how much we spend.

Comfort Versus Speed

Most people that I know want to act responsibly, but when it comes to daily travel decisions they often choose driving over more resource-efficient but less comfortable and convenient alternative modes, such as walking, cycling and public transportation. As a result, they feel guilty, and communities suffer from problems such as congestion, infrastructure costs, consumer costs, accidents, energy consumption, and pollution emissions.