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How the Green New Deal could save public transit from coronavirus – Curbed

Zero-emission transportation policy recommendations could provide climate-friendly economic stimulus.

   Ridership is down 30 to 80 percent on most major transit systems.Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Ridership is down 30 to 80 percent on most major transit systems.Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

It’s a surreal scene for city dwellers. Empty sidewalks, sparsely populated buses, and transit agencies pleading with passengers on social media not to ride them unless absolutely necessary. And by all accounts, would-be riders across the country are obeying orders to stay home and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The numbers are grim. Major transit agencies have reported ridership dropping by more than half over the last two weeks. But an even larger catastrophe is looming. With fewer riders paying fares, and operational costs rising due to increased sanitizing of vehicles and facilities, transit systems in cities like Boston, San Francisco, Austin, and Los Angeles have announced service cuts, including, in some cases, eliminating all overnight service at a time when there are no other options for transit-dependent riders to get around safely.

“We are seeing steep declines of 30 to 80 percent,” says Steven Higashide, director of research at TransitCenter. “At the same time, the crisis underscores how essential public transit is for people who have essential jobs or need transit to go to the grocery store or get to a doctor’s office.”

Long before a pandemic was circulating the planet, the policy team behind the Green New Deal was plotting out a path to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. transportation sector by 2050. The recommendations in their report, “A Green New Deal for City and Suburban Transportation,” out this week, are even more urgent for a country facing not just a climate crisis, but public health and economic crises as well.

In the pre-COVID-19 world, transportation made up one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—with a majority of those emissions coming from cars and trucks. “It’s not enough to look at solutions like flying less or building high-speed rail,” says Higashide, one of the report’s co-authors. “We have to look at surface transportation.”

Read on >>>> Source: Curbed How the Green New Deal could save public transit from coronavirus – Curbed

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