We are still in disbelief as we watch the unfolding ecological disaster caused by 144,000 gallons of crude oil spewing into the waters and onto the shoreline of Orange County. Add that to the drought and devastating fires that have raged across the West and it is clear that climate change—"fueled" by our dependence on oil—is knocking on the door.
We know we need solutions that continue to power our economy, provide good paying jobs and address the devastating health impacts of diesel pollution, wildfires and oil spills. Our Zoomposiums tomorrow (Friday) and next week (on Thursday) are about some of the solutions—involving the adoption of new transportation options, some powered by electric batteries or hydrogen—for getting around.
Tomorrow our focus is on getting around California, city to city. Last month my family took an incredible journey on Amtrak from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and while it was beautiful it also took 12 hours in total. We can do better and our panelists are going to talk about how.
Join us tomorrow (Friday), 11am-1pm, to talk about getting around without a car. Because our current transportation system isn't working anymore. Our speakers are listed below. REGISTER HERE.
° Laura Friedman, Assemblymember for California’s 43rd District and Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, will frame the challenges ahead for our state as we work to de-carbonize our transportation systems. As she said recently at Mobility 21, “If we are to really improve the lives of all Californians, move our economy into the future, and make headway in the fight against climate change, we need to prioritize strategies to reduce vehicle miles traveled, to reduce our reliance on single occupancy vehicles by incentivizing other modes of transportation—smarter modes of transportation.” Her leadership and that of her colleagues is crucial to the investment of public transportation systems that set us on a path to achieve our climate goals.
° Darwin Moosavi, Deputy Secretary for Environmental Policy and Housing Coordination at California’s State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), has been tasked with helping to align transportation spending with the state’s Climate Change Scoping Plan. This means that CalSTA’s investments must support smart growth to reduce VMT and increase the production of infill housing; reduce congestion by encouraging a reduction in driving and by investing in walking, biking and transit; and building an integrated rail and transit network statewide. This is not just important, it is essential, because even the most aggressive scenarios for the adoption of zero-emission vehicles and cleaner fuels are not going to enable us to meet our climate goals by relying solely on a shift in transportation technologies—we must reduce driving and VMT.
° Brightline is the only privately owned intercity rail service in the U.S., and Brightline Senior VP Ben Porritt calls it “a private sector solution to a public need” with the goal of shifting travel by road and air to rail instead. Brightline now operates intercity service connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. But the newest project, which will break ground soon, is a 170-mile route from Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County (and eventually from Los Angeles) to Las Vegas, Nevada, with fully electric zero-emission high-speed trains running down the I-15 interstate highway. Porritt believes people don’t really want to drive anymore, noting that fewer young people are bothering to get drivers licenses. He believes interest in cars is lagging not just because of traffic but because people would rather spend time on their phones, tablets or screens than driving alone in stop-and-go traffic.
° Traveling by bus is definitely near the top of the list of climate-friendly ways to get around, and FlixBus is working to operate its bus fleet on either hydrogen or electric batteries, and outfitting buses with bike racks so their riders can cycle the last mile to destinations. Pierre Gourdain, CEO of FlixBus USA, says the company has done research showing that people want alternatives to driving and are becoming ever more conscientious of their carbon footprint and the impact of their travel on the environment. Gourdain believes that buses are experiencing a renaissance and that FlixBus has begun tapping into a demographic that may not have considered taking a bus before. And he believes that while climate and technology are changing our future, buses will stand the test of time.
° LaDonna DiCamillo is Southern California Regional Director of the state’s High Speed Rail Project, with an alignment and technology capable of sustaining speeds of 200 miles an hour or more, which means a trip from LA to San Francisco could take just 3 hours. And the SoCal portion will connect with both Metrolink and Brightline West service into Las Vegas, Nevada, and eventually improve connectivity between the Antelope and Central valleys, boosting their economic vitality with and creating a seamless connection between north, south and east. Oh and it will create an estimated 30,000 construction jobs, with an estimated economic impact of $6 billion and an environmental impact of removing 3 million cars from the road per year.
° Jeffrey Dunn is Director of Government and Community Relations for Metrolink, Southern California’s 538 route-mile commuter rail agency, which serves the region’s six counties and 21.5 million residents. He's Metrolink's liaison with Congress, USDOT, the Federal Rail Administration and the Federal Transit Administration, and he leads agency efforts to enhance formula, SB 1 and cap-and-trade funding allocations for commuter rail, as well as funding from grant programs including the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP). He is also working to secure the resources needed to fully implement the Southern California Optimized Rail Expansion (SCORE) program to prepare the region to host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic games.
Join us tomorrow (Friday), 11am-1pm, to talk about getting around California without a car. It's time to get to know all our options. REGISTER HERE.