A diverse group of organizations, businesses, and institutions today announced the formation of a new coalition to advocate for a more sustainable, accessible, and affordable transportation system in Vermont.
“Transportation for Vermonters, or T4VT for short, is unique in Vermont because our focus is on advancing transportation programs and investments that go beyond getting from point A to point B. Transportation is central to improving air quality, health, affordability, and economic vitality, as well as reducing greenhouse gas pollution,” said Kate McCarthy, sustainable communities program director at Vermont Natural Resources Council and coordinator of the T4VT coalition.
One of the Coalition’s first actions was to participate in the November 8th Vermont Climate and Energy Summit during which groups were asked to submit pitches to Governor Scott’s Climate Action Commission on high-impact ways Vermont can take action on climate. Currently, 47 percent of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and gasoline and diesel represent more than 35 percent of all energy consumed in Vermont. T4VT proposed replacing inefficient diesel school or transit buses with electric buses proven in cold climates. Diesel transit buses get only 4.5 miles per gallon and emit diesel exhaust that is dangerous for children, drivers, and passersby.
Abby Bleything of the Vermont Clean Cities Coalition helped deliver the pitch. She pointed out that “Electrifying school and transit buses will jumpstart Vermont’s transition into a more sustainable fleet. By tackling our most inefficient and polluting vehicles on the road first, we gain considerable benefits both in terms of human health and the health our environment.”
According to the T4VT members, making investments in a variety of transportation options also helps households spend less on transportation. “Economically vulnerable Vermonters bear a disproportionate amount of transportation costs relative to their income and we’re excited to be part of T4VT and to advocate for proven solutions that are good for Vermonters’’ health and for their pocket-books,” noted Dan Hoxworth, executive director of Capstone Community Action. “By focusing on increasing the affordability, accessibility and efficiency of our whole transportation system, Vermont can set an example for other rural states to follow. In doing so, we can ensure that all Vermonters can successfully transition to a climate change economy.”
Vermont has a history of promoting compact land use patterns and investing in alternatively fueled vehicles and infrastructure. This, along with increasing recognition that we need to better integrate public health, environment, and economic development outcomes into decisions about Vermont’s transportation investments, mean the time is right for rethinking what a sustainable transportation system can look like in a rural state. “Right now, too many Vermonters lack affordable, convenient, and reliable transportation to schools, jobs, healthcare, and other services,” noted Kelly Stoddard-Poor, AARP-VT Associate State Director of Outreach. “This can lead to isolation, especially for older Vermonters who may no longer drive. Transportation access is essential for people’s quality of life – at every stage of life.”
The Coalition’s founding members are AARP-VT, the American Lung Association in Vermont, Capstone Community Action, the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association, Local Motion, Renewable Energy Vermont, Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, Vermont Clean Cities Coalition, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Vermont Natural Resources Council, and Vermont Public Interest Research Group.