Transportation- The Elephant in the Room: Solutions and Challenge was the title of the Energy Action Seminar on October 14, 2013.
Karen Giltman, the Director of Transportation Efficiency at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, shared four factors shaping our transportation future; climate change, demographics (people will outlive their ability to drive), energy costs and funding. We need to figure out how to be more efficient with our transportation, doing the same or more with less energy to meet the states goal of 90% renewable by 2050. Karen shared that on average 65% energy is lost using a combustion engine compared to 12% with an electric motor. Electric vehicles are an energy efficient option.
Stephanie Kaza, UVM Environmental Studies Professor, conducted research on biking for transportation in Portland, OR. She feels people do not bike for transportation in Vermont because of dangerous intersections. UVM needs more planning around bike transportation. Portland, OR provides an excellent example of an integrated transportation system with a bike comprehensive plan.
Chapin Spencer, Director of the Department of Public Works for the city of Burlington, shared that we are going to need multiple solutions for transportation issues. Chapin agreed that streets need to be redesign so all users can use them. He also feels it would be great if tourists traveled by train to visit Vermont. Buses need to be full to be energy efficient. There has been a seventy percent increase in bus ridership over the past 10 year but there needs to be more people using buses as a transportation means.
Students have tremendous opportunity to use alternative means of transportation. Students can use the CAR SHARE program with a UVM ID and can ride buses for free. Eighty-five percent of all trips student take are by biking, walking or riding a bus. Only one out of five students own a car.
A major goal discussed at the seminar was the need to increase transportation literacy. Community members needs to how to pay a bus fee and ride a bike in the rain. It was suggested that UVM students could create a way to increase our communities' transportation literacy.