The Green Party urges the adoption of a transportation policy emphasizing the use of mass transit and alternatives to the automobile and truck.
California needs transportation that minimizes pollution and maximizes energy efficiency. California alone is responsible for 1/20th of the global greenhouse gas problem. Automobiles contribute a significant portion of this - the number of cars in California is increasing at twice our human population growth rate. Surfaces impermeable to rainwater, polluted storm run-off, paved-over or polluted wetlands, the heat island effect (increased temperature from heat-absorbing pavement), air pollution, and acid rain are all directly related to an ecologically unbalanced transportation system.
Our current transportation systems depend on oil for energy. Petroleum is a finite resource and it will run out some day. World oil supplies will decline in the near future. Postponing the development of conservation technologies and alternative energy sources will cause the inevitable transition from oil to be that much more expensive and difficult.
Massive subsidies to the auto and fossil fuel industries, as well as unworkable approaches by urban planners, maintain the auto's dominance of our cityscapes. The practice of upgrading streets to relieve traffic congestion just generates new traffic because access is now easier. People then take jobs further from their homes or purchase homes further from their jobs. Some people shift from public transit to private cars because the trip time in cars is shorter. When fewer people use public transit, it loses funding. As service deteriorates, even more people use their cars and the cycle continues.
To counteract these trends and reduce auto use, the Green Party advocates the following strategies:
Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Make streets, neighborhoods and commercial districts more pedestrian-oriented.
Increase the greenery on streets to encourage people to get out of their cars. This also helps reduce the heat-island effect.
Implement traffic-calming methods so that the design of local streets promotes safe speeds and safe interaction with pedestrians. Create small, walkable auto-free zones.
Develop extensive networks of bicycle lanes and paths.
Include bike racks on all public transit. Provide adequate bike parking at all transit stations and other public destinations.
Provide free bicycles for tourists, visitors or others without bicycles so they can ride around town pollution-free. Provide necessary support services to encourage the use of bicycles.
Redirect resources and subsidies that currently go to enhancing auto capacity into expanding transit options like mass transit that provide service to the most people at the lowest financial and environmental cost.
Develop affordable and accessible mass transit systems - they should be more economical and convenient to use than private vehicles.
Deploy non-petroleum powered or highly efficient busses. Such technologies as fuel cells, hybrids, bio-diesel and electric are currently available or are close to full development.
Encourage employer subsidies of transit commuter tickets for employees, funded by government congestion management grants.
Use existing auto infrastructure for transit expansion where possible. Light rail could be established in expressway medians through metropolitan high-density corridors.
Include transportation issues in land use decisions, such as the need for mass transit to have a market and be viable, and cross commuting (people commuting to a place where they could and should live). [see Urban Land Use plank.]
Provide easy-to-understand and thorough information concerning mass transit schedules, routes and rates. Make this information convenient and accessible to potential commuters.
Design mass transit with roll-on access for the physically disabled. Hoists and lifts are clumsy and time-consuming.
Place a moratorium on highway widening and use the money for mass transit and facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Lower toll fees and provide further incentives for carpools and rideshares.
Discourage unnecessary auto use by limiting free parking in nonresidential areas well served by mass transit.
Substantially increase the taxes on gasoline, but allow some compensation for low-income drivers. [see Creating the Right Incentives plank.]
Legislate a "gas guzzler" tax on new vehicles that get a lower mpg than the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards and offer "gas sipper" rebates for vehicles that get a higher mpg.
Schedule an increase in CAFE standards to 60 mpg for cars and 45 mpg for light trucks within five years.
Develop and market to the general public fuel-efficient cars, such as hybrids, as well as fuel cell, solar, electric and other non-fossil fuel powered vehicles for local travel.
Long Distance Travel
Make airports accessible by local transit systems.
Legislate further incremental reductions in airplane noise and air pollution.
Emphasize the use of light and heavy rail for freight transportation as an alternative to air and truck freight.
Build high-speed rail systems between cities as an alternative to airplanes and cars - especially over highly traveled medium-length routes like San Francisco to Los Angeles.