Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Transportation
Section title: Transportation
Section subtitle: Mass Transit, Biking and Walking
Our position: Greens will expand mass transit, as well as biking, walking and other alternatives to cars.
Greens support the rapid and widespread expansion of safe, accessible and affordable mass transit options for all segments of society, especially low-income communities and the transit dependent.
Public transportation consists of buses, subways, trolleys and light rail, commuter trains, street cars, cable cars, van pool services, paratransit services for senior citizens and people with disabilities, ferries and water taxies and monorails and tramways.
The lack of widespread public transportation in the United States irrevocably handicaps our nation environmentally, economically and socially. We will not meet our goals as a society, nor our responsibilities as part of the global community, without a fundamental shift from automobile orientation towards the widespread use of public transit, walking and cycling.
Public transit has not always been neglected in the United States. In the 1920s and 1930s, major cities across the country had light-rail trolley service. Mass transit was relatively convenient, cheap, and plentiful. But to make society more automobile and petroleum dependent, a group of large corporations conspired to purchase and dismantle the trolley systems. By the 1950s most of them were destroyed, after which the nation embarked on a massive, publicly funded construction of the Federal interstate highway system, along with its feeder roads and highways. The result is a nation built around the automobile and highways, rather than around public transportation and mass transit corridors. Public funds spent towards roads and highways are considered an 'investment', while spending for public transit is considered a subsidy.
Greens believe this must all change.
Increasing the use of public transportation provides greater mobility, access, opportunity and choice; it conserves energy while reducing gasoline consumption, pollution, greenhouse gases and society's carbon footprint; it reduces cost, vehicle miles traveled, congestion and saves lives; it reduces dependence upon foreign oil and military adventurism and it helps create healthy, safe, livable and economically viable communities.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND MASS TRANSIT
1. Shift federal transportation funding priorities from roads and highways to mass transit; dedicate a majority of federal transportation funds to mass transit.
2. Combine land use and transportation planning by locating public transportation next to jobs and housing, and jobs and housing next to public transportation .
3. Utilize a carbon tax so that the use of fossil fuels pays its real cost, making public transit more affordable by comparison.
4. Prioritize the transit needs of low income communities and the transit dependent.
5. Support the development of a national high-speed rail system. Expand inter-city rail service with a focus on minimizing commercial flights of 1,000 or less.
6. Dedicate lanes to public transit and cycling that are currently dedicated to automobile traffic.
MORE SAFE SPACE FOR PEDESTRIANS AND CYCLISTS
1. Expand networks of bikeways, bike lanes, bike paths and safe crossings. Support rails to trails conversion.
2. Promote commuting by cycling. Support a cycling infrastructure of showers, bike lockers, bike stations and transit centers. Provide financial support and/or subsidies for employees who commute by cycling comparable to support used to incentivize the use of public transportation.
3. Maintain free municipal bicycle fleets.
4. Protect and promote the rights of cyclists. Educate the public about those rights.
5. Make streets, neighborhoods and commercial districts more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists. Develop human scale, Complete Communities that lend themselves to cycling and walking through a concentration of housing, employment, and a mix of retail and services, located in close proximity to each other.
6. Design Complete Streets that are designed and operated to enable safe, attractive, and comfortable access and travel for all users, regardless of mode. Ensure that all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, children, older individuals, and individuals with disabilities, are able to travel safely and conveniently on and across federally funded streets and highways.
7. Design Green Streets that incorporate the use of trees, plantings and other greening techniques that can provide a sense of public space, encouraging bicycle and pedestrian travel.
REDUCE ENERGY-INTENSIVE TRANSPORTATION
1. Raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 60 MPG for cars and 45 MPG for light trucks by the year 2014.
2. Enact a “gas guzzler” tax on new vehicles that get a lower MPG than the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards and offer “gas sipper” rebates for vehicles that get a higher MPG.
3. Support an increase in the tax of gasoline to begin to reflect its real environmental costs and to promote the development of vehicles that run on cleaner fuels. Use these funds to expand public transit and/or to support research and development into cleaner fueled vehicles. Increase funding to support research and development overall.
4. Promote carpooling programs, car-sharing, ride-sharing networks, flextime and telecommuting to reduce commuter traffic congestion and vehicle miles traveled.
5. Support government procurement of high efficiency and renewable energy-based motor vehicles.
6. Fund buy-back programs to remove the most polluting and least efficient vehicles from the road.
7. Revitalize and expand rail transport instead of trucks for shipping freight.
8. Increase taxes on air travel, to reduce miles flown.
9. Increase the use HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes on freeways and lower toll fees for carpools.
10. Increase public transit connections to airports.
2004 PLATFORM SECTION ON TRANSPORTATION
The Green Party supports a transportation policy that emphasizes the use of mass transit and alternatives to the automobile and truck for transport. We call for major public investment in mass transportation, so that such systems are cheap or free ot the public and are safe, accessible, and easily understandable to first-time users.
We need ecologically sound forms of transportation that minimize pollution and maximize energy efficiency. Surfaces impermeable to rainwater, polluted storm run-off; paved over or polluted wetlands, the heat island effect, air pollution, and acid rain are all directly related to a transportation system run amuck.
Massive subsidies to the auto and fossil fuel industries, as well as an unworkable approach by urban planners, maintain the auto’s dominance of our cityscapes. The present-day approach of upgrading streets to accommodate increased traffic generates new traffic because access is now easier, and people will now take jobs further from their homes or purchase homes further from their jobs. Some people shift from public transit to private cars due to the trip time in cars being shorter. As patronage for public transit decreases, public transit loses funding, becomes less viable, and service deteriorates thus encouraging even more people to use their cars.
To counteract these trends and reduce auto use, the Green Party advocates the following strategies:
Pedestrians and Bicyclists
1. Make streets, neighborhoods and commercial districts more pedestrian friendly.
2. Increase the greenery of streets.
3. Utilize traffic-calming methods, where the design of streets promotes safe speeds and safe interaction with pedestrians. Create auto-free zones.
4. Develop extensive networks of bikeways, bicycle lanes and paths. Include bike racks on all public transit.
5. Maintain free community bicycle fleets, and provide necessary support for cyclists.
6. Redirect resources that currently go to enhancing auto capacity into expanding human-scale transit options.
7. Develop affordable mass transit systems that are more economical to use than private vehicles.
8. Encourage employer subsidies of transit commuter tickets for employees, funded by government Congestion Management grants.
9. Use existing auto infrastructure for transit expansion where possible. Light rail could be established in expressway medians through metropolitan high density corridors.
10. Include land use decisions in transportation issues, with consideration of the need for mass transit to have a market and be viable, and with attention paid to cross-commuting – the practice of people commuting to a place where they could and should live.
11. Expand our country’s network of rail lines, including high speed regional passenger service.
12. Place a moratorium on highway widening then use the money for mass transit and facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists.
13. Mandate HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on freeways, and lower toll fees for carpools.
14. Discourage unnecessary auto use by eliminating free parking in non-residential areas well served by mass transit, and establish preferential parking rates for HOV.
15. Substantially increase the taxes on gasoline, but allow some compensation for low income drivers.
16. Support ambitious increases in motor vehicle fuel efficiency, including the use of hybrid electric designs. Legislate a “gas guzzler” tax on new vehicles that get a lower MPG than the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards and offer “gas sipper” rebates for vehicles that get a higher MPG.
17. Schedule an increase in CAFE standards to 60 MPG for cars and 45 MPG for light trucks by the year 2010.
18. Develop and market to the general public fuel efficient cars as well as solar, electric and other non-fossil fuel powered vehicles for local travel. Support government procurement of high efficiency motor vehicles. Electric components of vehicles should not be put “on the grid” while we still have polluting electricity generation sources providing power to that grid.
19. Encourage carpooling programs, telecommuting, and other creative solutions to reduce commuter traffic congestion. We advocate fair buy-backs of the most polluting and least efficient vehicles to remove them from the road.
20. Reduce air travel to prevent climate change.
21. Make airports accessible by local transit systems.
22. Legislate further incremental reductions in airplane noise and air pollution.
23. Emphasize the use of light and heavy rail for freight transportation.
24. We call for incentives to get long-distance truck hauling off of our highways and on to railways. We favor the removal of any administrative impediments to efficient long-haul freight transport by rail. Time is lost when switching goods from one railroad to another, even when the trains are the same size and gauge, and this waste can be eliminated.