Is there legislation that could green the transportation system in the U.S. and that local leaders wouldn’t turn down free money to implement? Maybe.
New legislation would help six cities test smart transportation technology systems. House Resolution 995, would give the cities grants to implement technologies like synchronized traffic lights and real-time traffic and transit data. The idea is to make roads more efficient and safe, while reducing carbon emissions from idle cars and stop-and-go driving.
In Wired, Zach Rosenberg explains that these technologies are nothing new but the legislation is important because it would help bring together many transportation technologies:
We’ve been adopting some of these technologies piecemeal for years. Electronic toll collection lets you pony up without slowing down, for example. In some cities, public buses transmit GPS data, allowing riders to plan trips with greater accuracy. And several automakers are developing cars that “talk” to us and to each other. But House Resolution 995 is a milestone because it is the first attempt to integrate several technologies simultaneously.
Plus, the cleaning up of the U.S. transportation systems in this way is less politically charged than something like high-speed rail, because it wouldn’t lead to a paradigm shift in car-centric U.S. transportation. And implementing these solutions would be much cheaper and build on infrastructure we already have.
The text from the House Resolution explains:
The United States cannot continue to simply build our way into a safer, cleaner, and more efficient transportation system. We must make better use of the tools that are available, including intelligent transportation systems (ITS), to actively manage our transportation network to improve safety, efficiency, and multimodal connectivity.
Technology solutions are available today to help cities and States reduce congestion and emissions, make our roads and transit systems safer, and provide the public with improved access to transportation options and real-time information to make efficient travel decisions.
It might not be a game-changer in shifting our transportation away from the car, but it could clean up our transportation in a way that leverages resources now which can be integrated quickly and cheaply into our transportation systems.