Sep 23, 2019

How LA is Using Public Transportation to Fight Climate Change

The Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) is at the heart of LA's plan to improve city life, and Measure M is a critical part of funding and securing this plan. It is a roadmap to improving mobility, providing more transportation options, easing congestion, and improving air quality. The plan seeks to enhance the public transit program by investing in bus systems and expanding the rail system. The plan also calls for highway improvements, such as new carpool lanes, and invests in many other programs, like bicycle and pedestrian connections and transit services for the disabled.

Act Now

The global warming impact you have when you travel depends on three factors: the type of vehicle you are taking, the distance you are traveling, and the number of people traveling with you. The Union of Concerned Scientists' Getting There Greener guide helps you understand the impact that you're having and how you can reduce it. It is the definitive guide for greening your travel, especially when you are traveling long distances.

Read the Getting There Greener guide and report, and then take the "Getting There Greener" pledge and commit yourself to reducing the global warming emissions from your travel.

Action Challenge

Learn about what your city is doing to combat climate change, especially from vehicle emissions, and then compel them to do more. One way you could do this is by working to unite with others in your area who are concerned about global warming and want to help fight climate change. Once you have connected with these individuals, come together to discuss what you can do, as a group, to create positive action. Maybe it involves political campaigning or protests. Maybe it involves community education initiatives that convey information about carbon emissions from vehicles and encourage cleaner habits. The solutions you invent will depend on the unique needs of your community.

The impact of urban pollution is both astounding and frightening. Cities occupy just 3% of the global landmass, but they account for a staggering ~80% of carbon emissions, much of this from the transportation sector. This has a dramatic impact on health and life quality for residents in these areas.

Ultimately, people living in close proximity to major thoroughfares or highways confront much higher health risks due to poor air quality. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, air pollution caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016 alone. We can no longer pretend that our habits — specifically, our driving habits — don't matter and are insignificant.

Car-free city centers could be the solution to some of our key air quality issues, and several cities are already working to make it vehicles a thing of the past. Or at least, significantly decrease their influence.

In 2016, Los Angeles passed Measure M. The project involves a massive upgrade to the city’s public transportation system. It is aimed at increasing the number of pedestrian and bike paths, adding new trains and buses, and keeping transportation affordable.

These improvements are critical to Los Angeles’ long-term sustainability. There are currently 10.2 million people living in LA County, and this number is projected to grow by 2.3 million people in the coming decades. Traffic congestion and air pollution will only get worse as this number increases, and Measure M is meant to alleviate some of the growing pains and make the city more sustainable and habitable.

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