Climate and commuting
In a July 11 op-ed, “Reduced commuting should take TCI off the table,” the author cites the 83% drop in vehicle miles traveled from April to justify his belief that Massachusetts should abandon its participation in a regional effort called the Transportation Climate Initiative to curb transportation-related emissions.
However, the author ignores the fact that vehicle miles traveled declined in part because 650,000 people filed unemployment claims in Massachusetts by mid-April. Not everyone has the privilege of being able to work from home like the author suggests. As the economy recovers and people return to work, the congestion and pollution problems of our overburdened and underfunded transportation systems will return.
Reducing vehicle miles traveled is certainly a good strategy to reduce climate-warming emissions, and while more people working from home would help, it’s no silver bullet. Massachusetts should continue to lead on TCI, as it provides an opportunity to both cap emissions from the transportation sector (currently responsible for 40% of our emissions), but generate revenue to make long-term investments to bring our cars, buses and trains into the 21st century.
Transportation connects people to economic opportunities; it is well worth the investment to make sure Bay Staters have access to resilient, reliable and affordable ways of getting around, regardless of their choice to work remotely.