By increasing competition among transportation modes, making transportation pricing transparent, and tying transportation spending to energy and economic performance, America could cut oil demand by as much as 779 million barrels a year by 2030, according to a new analysis released by the Mobility Choice Coalition.
At a time when national transportation infrastructure policy is up for revision and improvement, the 19-member coalition also believes policy makers must take a fresh look at transportation.
The analysis "Taking the Wheel: Achieving a Competitive Transportation Sector Through Mobility Choice," details the benefits of 10 specific policy options that would level the playing field among transportation options. If all were adopted, U.S. oil demand would fall by as much as 462 million barrels of oil per year by 2020 and 779 million barrels a year by 2030.
Right now, the country uses about 6.8 billion barrels, or nearly 300 billion gallons, of oil annually.
The report's recommendations aim to reduce economic disruptions from oil spikes, cut wasteful government spending and provide Americans with economical and convenient transportation options.
"Taxpayers have made their anger over wasteful government spending clear, and we know there are ways to re-introduce accountability for how the federal government spends tax dollars, specifically as it relates to transportation," said report co-author Anne Korin of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS ). "When it comes to transportation, Americans need to get what they pay for and pay for what they get."
The Mobility Choice Coalition, which includes the IAGS, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the American Bus Association (ABA), as well as and 15 other organizations, analyzed the specific effect on oil demand from telecommuting, bus rapid transit, transit competition, improved transportation technology, vouchers and other policies. The group also recommended implementation strategies to maximize oil savings.
"As long as the playing field is level, modern buses can save energy and compete with any mode of transportation as a cost-effective and efficient alternative," ABA President & CEO Peter J. Pantuso said. "Motorcoaches are the greenest choice, achieving 206 passenger miles per gallon."
As an example, the report said government agencies can set a good example by encouraging telecommuting and a compressed workweek for its workforce. Barriers to telecommuting in state and local tax codes should be eliminated, and tax incentives can be provided for telecommuting infrastructure setup, Internet connectivity and maintenance costs; similar to the tax-free benefits currently provided for other workplace transportation costs.
"Our country cannot afford to continue barreling along its current transportation spending path, which strands too many consumers due to few travel choices," said report co-author Deron Lovaas, federal transportation policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This will only lead to an increase in oil dependence. Putting some of these long-overdue reforms in place would create more transportation options and cut our overall oil use."
The report also calls for an increased federal investment in transportation technology to save drivers time and money and increased transportation system efficiency and services.
To view the full report, click here.