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A new report released today documents a potential savings of more than $20 billion for the Commonwealth’s residents and state budget. Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) and the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Education Fund released their study on the benefits of reduced driving in the Commonwealth. The report finds that even small reductions in driving would yield substantial benefits between now and 2030.
“Even a small decrease in driving has the potential to create substantial economic, environmental, and public health benefits,” said John Olivieri, Campaign Director for 21st Century Transportation at the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, and co-author of the report. “I hope that our policy makers will see this report as an opportunity. By prioritizing repair of our existing roads over expansion, and by investing in more and better public transit, biking, and walking options for Bay Staters, we can achieve these benefits,” he furthered.
The report examines the benefits of a one percentage point decrease in the driving growth rate below official projections, and concludes that even small decreases in driving would save the citizens of the Commonwealth $20.1 billion over the next 15 years, and $2.3 billion annually by the 2030.
These saving would come from:
- Less money spent at the pump due to less gasoline consumption ($7.7 billion in cumulative savings over the next 15 years, $856 million in annual savings by 2030);
- Less money spent on car collisions and related consequences ($6.7 billion in cumulative savings, $785 million in annual savings by 2030);
- Less money spent on vehicle repair due to less vehicle usage ($3.8 billion in cumulative savings over the next 15 years, $446 million in annual savings by 2030);
- Less money spent on road repair due to less road usage ($1.9 billion in cumulative
savings over the next 15 years, $224 million in annual savings by 2030).
The report also finds that one percentage point decrease in driving below official projections would also yield considerable environmental benefits. Specifically, the report concludes that annual savings in gasoline consumption would be as high as 268 million gallons a year by 2030, while resulting carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by 2.38 million metric tons by the same year. Meanwhile, cumulative gasoline consumption savings would reach 2.6 billion gallons over the next 15 years, eliminating 23.3 million metric tons carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere over that span.
“This report makes clear that even small reductions in the growth of driving below official projections can make a big difference in the fight against global climate change. We recommend that our policy makers more prominently consider the effects future transportation projects will have on overall driving levels, the environment, and on public health as they make decisions about what projects to build,” said Kirstie Pecci, Staff Attorney at the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group. “Not all transportation projects are created equal. If we are serious about reducing driving, protecting the environment, and improving public health, then new and wider highways are certainly less helpful than investments in public transit, biking, and walking,” she added.
The report also finds that small reductions in driving below official projections would have significant benefits to public health. The report finds that air pollution linked to transportation causes more than 53,000 premature deaths each year across the United States. “Air pollution from transportation can be a real danger, resulting in many lives lost prematurely each year,” said Kristina Egan, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts. “However, we can reduce the amount of air pollution people are exposed to, and thereby saves lives, if our policy makers put greater emphasis on non driving modes of travel.”
With every choice they make about how we get around, our decision-makers ‘pave’ the way to our transportation future. This report demonstrates how important it is for those decisions to lead to more economical, environmentally friendly and public health oriented forms of transportation -- transit and other long neglected modes like biking and walking -- and away from an over-reliance on driving. “Ultimately, it’s up to our elected and appointed officials to do what’s right,” said Olivieri. “I’m hopeful that this report will serve as a call to action,” he said.
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