Environmental advocates in Columbus are pushing for greater investment in clean, climate-friendly transportation.
Mike Foley explains.
Environment Ohio’s Sam Gerard says extreme weather events highlight the importance of reducing carbon pollution and offering cleaner transportation choices. The group released a report titled – 50 Steps Toward Carbon-Free Transportation.
“The most important parts of those are really that public funding should be geared toward higher efficiency standards and specifically standards around green technology like wind and solar power. And that we should be setting policies over time that help to phase out the lower efficiency vehicles and vehicles that still use fossil fuels in favor of higher efficiency and vehicles that do not use fossil fuels.”
Gerard highlighted some success stories. Car2Go has become the largest and fastest growing car sharing program. Chet Ridenour - the company’s general manager in Columbus - says there are 200 vehicles and more than 25,000 members in the capital city. Ridenour says research released earlier this year found that on average each Car2Go vehicle removes 11 vehicles from city streets, resulting in significant reductions in greenhouse gases and pollution. Columbus-based uSolar builds and customizes industrial, portable solar generators. The company says solar has overtaken wind as the fastest growing source of electricity and it’s become cheaper. uSolar co-founder Casimir Galiszewski says there’s tremendous potential for solar bus technology. He says the Smart City Challenge Grant won by the City of Columbus represents a good start, but the city must capitalize on the opportunity.
“Very close to us – Indianapolis, Indiana – they have the IndyGo system, which has 21 battery electric buses which is currently the largest fleet in the country. And IndyGo has already saved nearly 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel, which is enough to fuel 7 tanker trucks. They have received federal funding to build phase one of their transit project, which will have 13 more battery-powered all-electric buses, so they’re getting the federal funding and then showing what can be done with it. People think that by winning this grant we are on the leading edge of transportation technology, but in reality there are others in the world that are already setting the standards, and so this is gonna really help us truly catch up and help stay at the front of that leading edge.”
The city won the $40 million-dollar grant in June. Another $10 million-dollar grant targets the research and testing of electric vehicles. The city also raised another $90 million through public and private partnerships. Officials anticipate a four-year process with more specifics and project timelines to be announced sometime next year. Environment Ohio, meanwhile, plans to begin crafting some specific transportation policy changes primarily geared toward state lawmakers.