Making Democracy Work

LWVVT Transportation Study

Transportation Study

Transportation Study

The LWVVT Transportation study was begun in 2009, with the aim of assessing how best to help people move around the state conveniently and efficiently. The committee's research included review of transportation studies by the state and other organizations, public discussion and interviews. One thing we learned is just how big a challenge transportation policy and its implementation represents.

The following is a summary of the study findings.

In judging transportation systems, such as new bus lines, criteria should include ridership, inter-modality, equipment size appropriate to ridership, and provision for pedestrians and bicycles. Funding should be the shared responsibility of users, and local and state government. Gas taxes should be used for public transportation.

Factors that would encourage use of public transit or carpooling include: higher gas prices, con-venience, shortage of parking, a more user-friendly website for information, and signage for rideshare. Informal "rideshare" at designated sites could be encouraged. Employers could provide opportunities and/or subsidize the cost of alternative transportation. The state, in turn, could provide incentives to employers who provide or encourage public transit.

Passenger rail services should be increased. Ridership could be encouraged by lower fares, faster service, on-board Wi-Fi, better food, and special excursions. Better coordination for multimodal connections (e.g., bus terminals near rail stations) is needed. The needs of commuters and in-state travelers are different from those of long-distance travelers, so one train is unlikely to meet the needs of both types of passenger.

Significant investment in rail infrastructure + especially track and bridges + is necessary to create an efficient system. The federal government should recognize the need to approach rail in the spirit that built the interstate highway system.

For more on both passenger and freight rail transport, see our concurrence position on regional transportation, found under our positions on the environment

As the primary agency for transportation funding, VTrans should ensure that multimodal connectivity becomes an integral part of transportation projects.  VTrans should provide not only planning, but user information on multimodal connections.

The state should reorganize the way it delivers transportation services so that there is better cooperation and closer collaboration among state, regional and local governments and agencies.

Local government and regional planning agencies have an important role in preparing communities for change. For example, park and ride lots and mini- park and rides, planning and zoning that recognizes the need for new services such as plug-ins or battery exchanges for a future with significant numbers of electric cars.

Planning for transportation should precede development. If not, transportation planning is always trying to catch-up with development. Development should take place where it can be served well by roads and public transportation, pedestrian walkways and bikeways, trails, and carpooling centers.

Local communities need to address the disconnect between planning and implementation. Local government should accept responsibility for funding local transportation of all types, using local tax revenues and state-aid transportation funds.

The idea of using idle school buses for other needs was attractive, but proved complicated. However, the idea should be kept in mind as part of a policy to make creative use of existing resources.

No consensus was reached regarding the possible reformulation of gas taxes, or on other funding mechanisms, other than agreement that real estate property taxes should not be used. The idea of personal property taxes on automobiles was discussed. It was agreed that local taxes should be used for local infrastructure projects, as determined by the individual communities.

LWVVT CONSENSUS POSITION ON TRANSPORTATION

How we address our transportation challenges impacts our health, climate, energy efficiency, environmental quality and foreign policy. Therefore, The League of Women Voters of Vermont supports: Alternative modes of transportation that promote good health and environmental quality, such as bicycle and walkways, and provision for electric-powered vehicles. Recognizing the needs of this predominately rural state, the League supports efforts to move to shared and public transportation where feasible. Geographic and intermodal connectivity, recognizing that transportation policy is a means of strengthening local communities. The League also supports the creative and increased use of existing resources. The concept that all forms of transportation are the shared responsibility of local, state, and federal government.

The final report on this study can be found here.