transportation

10 Policy Changes for a Better Climate

A multi-agency government report released last week provides a stark reminder about the impact climate change will have on the global economy. That report signaled that unless immediate steps are taken, the impacts of climate change could reduce GDP by as much as 10%, or twice that of the 2008 recession. The report outlines not only the far-reaching impacts on our economy, but also how climate change will impact our health, transportation system, and military capabilities.

This report follows the publication last month of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report, with its stark description of a rapid acceleration in global warming and the urgent need for emissions to reach net zero.

Transportation remains the single largest greenhouse gas (GHG) polluter, responsible for 28.5% of all emissions in the United States (EPA, 2016). Making our transportation system more efficient will not only aid the climate, but it will also improve the transportation system, reduce congestion, and enhance our quality of life.

While steps are being taken to make transportation cleaner, there are actions policy makers need to take to begin reducing GHG emissions immediately.  

Here are 10 policies lawmakers should implement

Reduce GHG emissions by increasing average vehicle occupancy - Incentivizing carpooling and vanpooling will increase average vehicle occupancy. Fewer cars on the roads means less GHG being emitted, it also means less congestion which benefits everyone. Policy makers should expand regional vanpool programs and create incentive programs that reward commuters who carpool

1. Municipal governments with tolled or priced facilities should provide preferential pricing for verified carpools.

2. Cities that do not have tolled or priced facilities should consider implementing a rewards program that financially (or otherwise) rewards individuals who carpool or vanpool to work.

Make sure autonomous doesn't mean empty

3. Initiate a verification system which requires autonomous vehicle operators to periodically report on average vehicle occupancy. As policy makers look to move away from a gas tax and towards a vehicle miles travelled tax, the policy should incentivize higher occupancy and deter vehicles with zero or one passenger.

Integrate and enhance transit operations with shared services such as bikeshare, carshare, and other shared mobility options.

4. Creating integrated and multimodal networks will provide people with options other than driving alone. Numerous studies have shown that access to carshare, bikeshare, and other mobility-on-demand services, coupled with transit, leads to reduced driving.

Price transportation – reward high occupancy vehicles

5. Pricing is a critical tool that can impact transportation usage. Integrating pricing strategies that reward high occupancy vehicles will encourage shared rides and reduce the burden placed on the transit system.

Work with Employers

6. How and when people commute to work can be influenced by employers. Employers should be provided with the tools and resources to encourage non-solo commutes. A number of policies and resources should be provided to employers including

a. Telework resources and training

b. Transit benefit ordinances and tools

c. Incentives to encourage non-solo commutes

d. On-site information for employees to choose the best way to travel

Electrify

7. Continue to build out electric infrastructure and incentivize developers, employers, and even gas stations to include recharging facilities for electric vehicles.

8. Continue to expand tax incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles including in fleet operations.

Land-Use and Parking

9. Reduce parking limits and instead reward developers for integrating multi-modal transportation options such as carshare, bikeshare, transit, and other services that get drivers out of a car.

Work with the private sector

10. Work collaboratively with companies that can provide solutions to congestion and improved transportation. Create procurements that look to solve problems, not purchase products.

These 10 policies and solutions are common sense steps that any municipal governments can take to make an impact.  

New Toll Road Idea A ‘Game-Changer’ Say Transportation Leaders

HURST, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – An app that automatically detects how many people are in one vehicle, could help more drivers take advantage of discounted toll rates for high occupancy vehicles North Texas highways.

The technology would also eliminate the need for police enforcement of HOV violators.

It could roll out in early 2019 for toll roads in North Texas, and TxDOT is watching the program to see if it could be implemented statewide.

Read the full article here.

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Automating Vehicle Occupancy Verification with VeriRide

At Carma, we believe in rewarding high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) travel. Increasing the number of people in a car is the most effective way to fight traffic congestion, local air pollution and climate change. All over the world, government agencies are experimenting in rewards for high-occupancy vehicles, including dedicated HOV lanes, HOV toll discounts, preferential parking access and road user charging. 

However, until now with Carma's VeriRide technology, verifying vehicle occupancy has been impossible. Most agencies deploy roadside law-enforcement for periodic spot checks, but it's not easy to count people in a car that's moving quickly in traffic, in varying weather conditions. It's also dangerous for the police officers, and degrades traffic flow. Other agencies use automated digital imaging systems for peering inside cars - but these fail for the same reasons. 

Carma's patented system, VeriRide, takes a different approach. Our smartphone app automatically verifies your occupancy in a vehicle. It does this by using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communications to detect its proximity to a small in-car device - a Car Beacon - that simply transmits a Bluetooth identifier. In this way, vehicle occupancy is reported to the agency and you qualify for preferential HOV treatment.

One of the great features of the VeriRide solution is that it requires no user interaction at all. You can keep the phone in your pocket and the app will automatically verify your occupancy. Our product design process focuses on completely remove all barriers to someone adopting behavior change. This is one of the reasons why Carma's VeriRide solution is ideal for government agencies wishing to verify vehicle occupancy for enabling toll discounts. As you drive through a toll gantry, agencies can simply query for the number of people in your car and apply a reduced rate for carpools.

In this way, Carma is building the future of personal mobility - connected, hassle-free and rewarding. 

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Emmett Murphy is Chief Product Officer at Carma.

Product Design for Behavior Change

Your daily commute is probably automatic behavior. Subconsciously, you've probably worked out the very latest moment you can leave to arrive on time and you have a routine for how you get there. Unfortunately, for most people, that automatic behavior involves commuting in a single-occupancy vehicle.

At Carma, we know that our transportation products will only inspire behavior change if they're completely hassle-free to use. Our product design process is deeply rooted in BJ Fogg's theory that behavior change requires 3 fundamental elements to converge: motivation, ability and triggers.

Even if someone is highly motivated to share a vehicle (e.g. to save time in a carpool lane) and even if they are triggered every morning (e.g. watching cars fly past in the carpool lane), they still need a very simple way to adopt the new behavior. For this reason, our product teams continuously strive to reduce the number of taps required to use our products.

A great example of this is our newest Carma Share feature, enabling team members at Toyota's North American headquarters to book a commute vehicle for private carshare trips during the day with a single tap. Unlike other carshare products that typically include taps for car selection, time selection, insurance waivers, etc, our users can book a car with a single tap. 

Even better - Carma Share users can also access the vehicle with just a single tap of an Unlock button in the app. The car is unlocked (or locked) using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. This means that a new user can sign up, get approved to drive, book and access a car all within a few minutes. These same cars can be booked for shared high-occupancy commute trips each morning and evening, removing all ability barriers to adopting real, impactful behavior change.

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Emmett Murphy is Chief Product Officer at Carma.