To reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, our communities need to transition to “clean transportation” — including electric vehicles, public transit, carpooling, and walking or biking. Significant state and federal resources are being dedicated to this effort. How can we use those resources so everyone is part of this transition — including historically marginalized people, who are often left out of planning and investment?
This challenge is the focus of Community Transportation Transitions, a two-and-a-half-year project by Vital Communities and the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission. The local program is part of a larger project involving one other Vermont region and two in Connecticut, led by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, a Boston-based nonprofit, and funded by a grant from the Vehicle Technologies Office of the US Department of Energy.
The first phase of the project, beginning imminently, involves conducting “clean transportation equity audits” with community members and organizations, taking special measures to connect with people who identify as BIPOC, refugees, English language learners, LGBTQIA+, people who are unhoused, people living with disabilities, or people who have low incomes to the opportunities this project and these federal investments might bring. “Clean transportation equity audits” are group and individual conversations to learn about people’s transportation needs and the barriers they face in meeting those needs. community stakeholders. To respect the time it takes to provide meaningful engagement, we will pay these community partners for their involvement.
The project team takes seriously that its central task here is to ensure these investments are part of a just transition to a clean transportation future and that historically marginalized communities share in the benefits of these investments. As project covered by the “Justice40” Initiative of the Department of Energy, the project is required to “engage in stakeholder consultation and ensure that community stakeholders are meaningfully involved in determining program benefits” and see that 40 percent of the project’s benefits flow to “disadvantaged communities,” according to https://www.energy.gov/diversity/justice40-initiative.
We are fortunate to be doing this work in a region that is already taking steps towards transitioning our transportation system. Examples from this body of work include the Upper Valley EV Expo, Upper Valley E-bike Lending Library and E-bike Subsidy program, and Advance Transit’s growing fleet of electric buses. This project aims to build off these efforts and further incorporate community members into the planning and implementation of strategies that will create a cleaner transportation future for the whole region.
To learn more about the Community Transportation Transitions project contact a member from the project team below: