Investing in Transportation Infrastructure | Alliance to Save Energy

Investing in Transportation Infrastructure

There is a bipartisan opportunity to deliver real economic benefits to communities following the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders in both parties are pushing for a surge of investment in rebuilding American infrastructure as a core piece of economic recovery. Delivering a more efficient transportation system will create jobs and will increase our economy’s energy productivity through reduced energy demand.

At the same time, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a major piece of legislation that authorizing infrastructure spending, is set to expire in September, giving even more urgency to infrastructure investment.

The Alliance and its 50x50 Action Network, a diverse group of stakeholders advocating for policies that advance the vision of the 50x50 Commission on Transportation Sector Efficiency, have developed key priorities for Congress to consider. These policies will help ensure we rebuild wisely to create a modern transportation and infrastructure system that is more efficient, cost-effective, and equitable for all Americans. The Commission worked from 2017-2019 to identify policies that can reduce transportation energy consumption by 50% by 2050, relative to a 2016 baseline, policies that are more important today than ever.

The Priorities

The Alliance and its partners are advocating for the following infrastructure priorities:

Electrification

Electric vehicles, where available for a specific vehicle class, are currently estimated to be the most efficient vehicle type on the market on both pump-to-wheel and well-to-wheel bases. An aggressive campaign to build out electrification infrastructure will create jobs, help drivers save at the pump, and improve our nation’s air quality and health. But a primary barrier to greater deployments of EVs is the availability of public charging infrastructure. In order to kickstart this market, it is critical that we invest in charging infrastructure along our nation’s highways and in urban centers.

Grant Programs

Key grant programs such as Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD, formerly TIGER grants) and the Surface Transportation Block Program are extensively oversubscribed. These programs must have resources and flexibility to support investments in efficient transportation infrastructure.

Port & Airport Efficiency and Modernization

America’s ports and airports are the lifeblood of our economy, contributing $4.6 trillion in economic activity. Improving the efficiency of ports will support American competitiveness and job growth, while also reducing harmful particulate matter and carbon emissions.

Public Transit

Despite its well-documented benefits to the economy, we continue to neglect and underinvest in our nation’s public transportation. The State of Good Repair Program, Urbanized Area Formula Grants, and the Bus and Bus Facilities Program are three federal grant programs that should be leveraged to fund public transportation projects.

R&D in Emerging Trends & Technologies

R&D on developing and supporting emerging technologies, business models, and behavioral models is a down payment on a more efficient and cost-effective transportation sector. 

A detailed proposal of all transportation priorities can be found here.

Benefits of investing in transportation efficiency

  • Transportation expenditures have become the second greatest expense for the average American household, after housing, with the average annual cost of vehicle ownership reaching $8,500, or $705 per month. A transition to an EV-powered transportation system would mean deep savings for drivers: The Department of Energy finds that, on average, it costs about half as much to fill up an EV than a conventionally fueled counterpart.
  • For every $1 billion invested in public transportation, 50,000 jobs are created and sustained across industries.
  • Traffic congestion cost the U.S. economy nearly $87 billion in 2018.
  • The largest operating cost for freight companies is fuel. Increasing R&D on more efficient technologies for medium- and heavy-duty trucks will reduce shipping costs borne by firms and customers.
  • In 2016, the transportation sector surpassed the electric power sector to become the greatest source of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A more efficient transportation sector will help states meet increasingly aggressive goals for energy demand and carbon emissions reduction.

Learn more about 50x50 transportation priorities

To learn more about the 50x50 Action Network, please contact Rebecca Price at rprice@ase.org.