PHILADELPHIA NEEDS A GREEN NEW DEAL FOR TRANSPORTATION

 [1] “Fast Facts on Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, July 29, 2020. 
[2] “Connect: Philadelphia’s Strategic Transportation Plan.” City of Philadelphia, October 2018. 
  [3] Ibid.
  [4] “Southeast Partnership for Mobility Final Report,” May 2019.  
  [5] “Residential Parking Permit.” The Philadelphia Parking Authority, n.d. 
  [6] Ibid.
  [7] “Residential Parking Permit Plans in 7 Cities Worldwide: a Survey,” October 2019.   
[8] “Connect: Philadelphia’s Strategic Transportation Plan.” City of Philadelphia, October 2018. 
[9] Kennedy Rose | Philadelphia Business Journal. “SEPTA, Losing $1M in Revenue a Day, Faces Uncertain Financial Future.” NBC10 Philadelphia. NBC 10 Philadelphia, November 24, 2020. 

 
  [10] “Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956: Creating The Interstate System.” U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration, n.d. 
  [11] “Stop Funding Transit like It’s 1982, Congress.” Transportation For America, November 19, 2020. 

[12] Newsradio, Tim Jimenez/KYW. Philly police: fatal car crashes may be related to COVID-19, September 14, 2020.   
[13] Murphy, Darryl C. “Philly City Council Wants to Keep Expanded Outdoor Dining through 2021.” WHYY. WHYY, September 25, 2020. 
[14] “Southeast Partnership for Mobility Final Report,” May 2019. 
  [15] Rebecca Anger, Matias Conti, Libba Rollins, and Gennelle Wilson. “Policy Options to Achieve the City of Philadelphia’s Climate Change Goals,” April 2020.

[24] Short, Aaron, Angie Schmitt, and Kea Wilson. “Uber/Lyft Responsible For A Large Share of Traffic.” Streetsblog USA, August 7, 2019. 

[25] Miller, Alana, Kea Wilson, Streetsblog Denver, and Jeff Wood. “From the Bus Stop to the Fast Lane: How Cities Can Speed up Buses, Improve Ridership.” Streetsblog Denver, April 4, 2019. 

[26] “Connect: Philadelphia's Strategic Transportation Plan.” City of Philadelphia, October 2018.

[27] Miller, Eric. “15 States Agree to Work Together for All Heavy Trucks to Be Electric by 2050.” Transport Topics, July 14, 2020. https://www.ttnews.com/articles/15-states-agree-work-together-all-heavy-trucks-be-electric-2050.

[28] “BUS FLEET AT A GLANCE.” SEPTA, n.d.

[35] “Residential Parking Permit.” The Philadelphia Parking Authority, n.d. http://philapark.org/residential-parking-permit/.

[36] “Residential Parking Permit Plans in 7 Cities Worldwide: a Survey,” October 2019.

[37] “Connect: Philadelphia's Strategic Transportation Plan.” City of Philadelphia, October 2018.

[38] Romero, Melissa. “New Bill Calls for More Transit-Oriented Development along the El.” Curbed Philly. Curbed Philly, January 30, 2018.

[39] “SEPTA Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Policy Research.” Identifying Opportunities to Promote TOD in Greater Philadelphia. DVRPC, n.d.

[40] “Philly Watersheds.” http://archive.phillywatersheds.org, n.d.

The transportation sector is the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States, contributing to 29% of the nation's total emissions.[1] The majority of these emissions come from driving, and the City of Philadelphia is no different. According to the City of Philadelphia’s Strategic Transportation Plan (CONNECT), transportation is responsible for 17% of carbon pollution in Philadelphia, the second largest source of citywide carbon emissions just behind the housing sector.[2] However, not all transportation is created equal. According to the City, transit vehicles contribute less to local air pollution and climate change than private automobiles. The average greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile from cars are almost twice those of SEPTA’s current hybrid buses and are three times that of the subway and elevated rail network.[3]

Major contributors to these emissions are traffic congestion and fuel wasted searching for parking. 

Drivers in Southeastern Pennsylvania lose approximately $1,568 and 112 hours each year because of this congestion.[4] Philadelphia currently offers residential permit parking on select residential streets for fees ranging from $35 for the first car to $100 per car for four or more vehicles.[5] These low-cost residential parking permits encourage car ownership and undervalue the land on which parking depends.[6]  Other cities use higher fees to more accurately reflect the price of land that parking occupies.[7]


In 2016, the City of Philadelphia announced an ambitious climate goal in which Mayor Jim Kenney committed to an 80% reduction in citywide carbon dioxide equivalent (“CO2e”) emissions relative to 2006 levels by the year 2050. The City acknowledged cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector is essential to meeting Philadelphia’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and Mayor Kenney’s long-term goal of cutting carbon pollution. 

The City proposes reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transit in several ways: through the electrification of local transit, through the cleaning of Philadelphia’s regional electricity grid, and by increasing the ridership per bus mile of transit in Philadelphia. But the City has no plans for policies to meaningfully address transportation sector emissions outside the City’s own transit fleet.[8]

At a time when we need to transition to better public transit and alternative modes of transportation, COVID-19 continues to threaten transportation agencies across the country. SEPTA is currently facing a $350 million projected shortfall for its fiscal 2021 year ending in June. In April and May, SEPTA faced a nearly 90% drop in ridership and currently the system is losing $1 million in revenue each day.[9]

It will take federal, state and local level coordination to ensure cities, especially poor cities, such as Philadelphia, continue to have the funds to support transit improvements at a time when all sectors are struggling. The proposed Green New Deal – a Congressional resolution that lays the groundwork for how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change while also proposing fixes to societal problems such as economic inequality and racial injustice – mentions the role of transportation but does not go far enough. 

A Green New Deal for Transportation for Philadelphia would ensure that people have safe, convenient, and clean ways to reach their destinations using shorter trips, shared trips, and alternative modes of transportation. 

GETTING TO A GREEN NEW DEAL FOR TRANSPORTATION IN PHILADELPHIA


How do we get there? For starters, the federal government has the money to distribute more funding for these projects to the state. It is just being spent in the wrong places. Namely, it is being spent on highways.  

The Federal Highway Act of 1956 led to the growth of the highway system and, by linking gas taxes to the Federal Highway Trust Fund, allowed the government to subsidize highways. It also allowed state and federal highway departments to purposefully choose to build roads through African American neighborhoods, using language such as “blight removal” to justify the action.[10] This Act guaranteed a stream of money to road-building projects, providing 90% of the funding used to build the interstate highway system. Meanwhile, as highway construction benefitted from public funds, regional transit systems and railroads remained mostly reliant on private investment. To this day, while Congress continues funneling 80% of federal transportation funds into highways, only 20% is allocated for public transit.[11] This imbalance continues to tilt policymakers and politicians toward favoring automobiles as the dominant mode of transit over multi-passenger transportation systems. It also has encouraged land use planning and urban design practices to give preference to cars. Because of this, car ownership in the U.S has become a cultural symbol of freedom, independence, and success. By contrast, transit has been stigmatized and relegated to a transportation mode used only by the poor. In order to shift this narrative, it is necessary to fund alternative modes of travel by better subsidizing public transit, instead of cars, and by investing in Complete Streets projects that ensure safe and connected bicycle and pedestrian networks.


Not only does a Green New Deal for Transportation in Philadelphia seek to meet net zero greenhouse gas emissions, but it also aspires to tackle all forms of climate justice. A Green New Deal for Transportation in Philadelphia would provide a platform for economic, housing, and land justice, increasing the quality of life for everyone. In order to accomplish the goals of the Green New Deal, we have to look towards the future with a systems approach that incorporates each of those.

For example, as we consider improvements to our public transit system, we must acknowledge that affordable housing is directly correlated to the accessibility of public transit. Typically, land and property costs near highly-connected transit zones are significantly higher than other areas of the city, increasing the prospect of gentrification and displacement because of development. To undo the transgenerational effects of redlining and gentrification in Philadelphia, a less car-dependent Philadelphia must also be coupled with significant investment in the City’s public housing system. 

Fewer cars on the road also means fewer traffic fatalities. This is especially pressing during the pandemic. As driving speeds have increased, fewer people are taking transit, and fatal crashes have increased by 25% from 2019 to 2020.[12] The pandemic has also presented the opportunity to consider how to redesign city streets to make them more appealing to pedestrians, cyclists, and outdoor socializing. In response to COVID-19, the City of Philadelphia closed Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. to cars in an effort to make more space for recreation. The City has also enforced street closures to encourage outdoor dining and the City Council is considering passing an ordinance to extend outdoor dining through the end of 2021.[13]

We have the tools and creativity to reinvent a less car-dependent Philadelphia; we just need policy action. Start with parking: imagine a Philadelphia where parking spaces were scarce but rapid transit buses were abundant and miles of protected bike lanes meant families felt comfortable cycling with their children to school. Today, parking is free for 99% of all automobile trips in the U.S. because cities have been planned around minimum parking requirements.[14] The endless quest to satisfy peak demand for free parking uses precious city space. The result is parking is available at low cost to drivers but high cost to society and the environmental health of the planet. As progressive parking expert Donald Shoup argues, as long as we continue to make minimum parking requirements a condition of development, we subordinate almost every other function of our cities to the need for free parking and cars.

Congestion Pricing and Parking Reforms


Congestion pricing and parking reforms are two viable methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the City’s own transit fleet. Research conducted by graduate students at Duke University found that the City of Philadelphia could significantly reduce emissions by 2050 through the creation of a congestion pricing scheme throughout Center City and a city-wide parking reduction policy.[15] With the help of funding transferred from state and federal highway funds to transit programs, the City can shift it’s historically car-dominated approach to one that embraces better transit and complete street design.

Prioritizing Transit Policy


But a Green New Deal for Transportation for Philadelphia will take more than money. It will also take good planning. To ensure an equitable approach, transit projects must be prioritized so that every community has access to reliable public transportation. In addition, while federal transit policy emphasizes the importance of building and expanding projects – adding transit lines and roads – there has been little done to improve transit effectiveness, such as frequency and speed of service. Improving those conditions is essential to making public transit more attractive to potential riders. 

While fossil fuel-based transportation is a major contributor to climate change, automobile-dependent cities such as Philadelphia also struggle with air pollution, degraded infrastructure and flooding, extreme heat, and intense winter storms. To reduce transportation’s carbon footprint, it is essential we stop the continuous expansion of roads. By prioritizing new highways and more lanes instead of public transit, biking, and walking, we inadvertently subsidize cars while stigmatizing transit, which undermines both equity and climate goals. We have the tools we need to move toward a Green New Deal for Transportation; we just need to use them.

ANALYSIS OF CURRENT POLICY OPTIONS


A Green New Deal for Transportation in Philadelphia requires stable and sufficient transportation funding. It also requires a shift away from trips made by automobile to more trips completed by transit, walking, or biking. Cities throughout the US have tested out policies that incentivize this mode shift and discourage private vehicle use. However, in Philadelphia, many people use and depend on cars for transportation, but this system exacerbates racial inequities. As the City of Philadelphia plans for a shift to greener transportation, equity must stay at the center of sustainability efforts. 

FUNDING OPTIONS


Many cities have adopted policies that incentivize more public transit and cycling use. One proposal some cities have tested out increases fees for car usage, including rideshare fees, parking permits and parking maximums, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fees. Implementing bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes and encouraging transit-oriented development (TOD) are also important policy initiatives. In addition to mode shift, policies such as electrifying the city bus fleet and piloting cool pavement materials and green stormwater infrastructure treatments are ways in which the City of Philadelphia is already planning for a greener, more resilient transportation system. 

Before transit-oriented policies can become a reality, funding for non-automobile transportation must increase. As the pandemic threatens the financial viability of transit agencies across the country, the crisis also highlights the need to invest in public transit. Each city and state differs in how it derives its revenue to fund its local transit agency. In Illinois, transit agencies rely on sales taxes, however, Chicago instituted a new ride-hailing surcharge dedicated to transit in late 2017. The additional revenue source was estimated to raise $16 million in 2018 and $21 million in 2019.[16] Portland, Oregon relies on payroll taxes to fund transit, a source that may decline as unemployment rises. In San Francisco, the transit system gets almost twice as much revenue in parking fees and fines as it does from transit fares.[17] In Georgia, the State passed the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to support transit expansion in Atlanta. The initiative allows the 13 counties around Atlanta to impose sales taxes of up to 1% to fund transit for 30 years.[18]

As the economy lags and transit agencies continue to struggle to cover costs, the government will play an even greater role in ensuring transit has the funds it needs to incentivize users away from the car to alternative modes. The $2 trillion CARES Act, which includes $25 billion in direct emergency assistance for transit, is more than double what the federal government usually spends on transit in a year.[19]

While the City of Philadelphia has the highest percentage of people who commute by bicycle of any large city in the United States, the Philadelphia region has a comparatively low contribution of regional funds going to public transit compared to peer cities. In Philadelphia, the percentage of capital funds from local sources going to public transit is 11%, compared to 41% in Boston, 42% in Washington, D.C., 46% in Los Angeles, and over 60%+ in New York City and Chicago. [20]SEPTA’s lack of sufficient capital funds limits its ability to expand the system’s reach to provide better access to certain communities and more alternatives to the car.

PHILADELPHIA TRANSIT FUNDING


In Philadelphia, almost all funding for transportation comes from state and federal sources. For example, Act 89 allocates funding for SEPTA transit improvements while PennDOT funds provide for maintenance of many major roads. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grants pay for trails, complete streets, and transit projects.[21] In Pennsylvania, Act 44 of 2007 created a dedicated funding source for transit systems, based in part on payments from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC). Even if current federal and state funding levels remain the same, there are not enough funds for SEPTA and the PA Turnpike to deliver the current projects the City of Philadelphia has outlined to make public transit options more available and to make public transit more appealing. In addition, the Philadelphia region has limited authority to generate its own revenue to invest in its own transportation system, because most local funding sources require statewide enabling legislation.[22] Therefore, in order to achieve a Green New Deal for Philadelphia Transportation, City and statewide policies are needed to ensure funding for this transition. 

PHILADELPHIA TRANSIT FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES


One of the ways Philadelphia could increase revenue for public transit and complete streets projects, while also managing congestion, would be to implement higher fees on private vehicle use. Policies such as a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fee, a rideshare fee, residential parking permits, parking maximums, and congestion pricing would more accurately price car ownership and use in Philadelphia and discourage car use in the most congested areas. 

Revenue Options: VMT and Rideshare Fees, Parking Ratios, Congestion Pricing


Much of Pennsylvania’s transportation funding is derived from the gas tax. Nationwide, gas tax revenues per vehicle mile traveled have declined since the gas tax was first implemented, due to improvements in energy efficiency of vehicles, an increase in travel, and the rise of electric vehicles.[23] Pennsylvania needs to transition to a more sustainable funding stream. A vehicle miles traveled fee would provide a direct user fee that prices roadways by the extent to which one uses them. 

The increase in the use of rideshare services in the last decade has put a significant strain on traffic congestion in many cities, including Philadelphia.[24] These rideshare services have filled transportation gaps in urban settings, but also have had negative impacts by increasing congestion, decreasing ridership on public transit, and harming the environment by adding to carbon emissions. Many cities around the U.S. have implemented regulations and fees on ridesharing companies to alleviate these negative impacts while preserving the important role of the ridesharing services. 

Increasing the cost of residential parking permits and implementing parking maximums is another strategy to reduce car dominance. Under the parking maximums approach, cities establish a maximum ratio for parking spaces for various development types. Developers then have the option of providing less parking than the maximum amount allowed instead of fulfilling the more traditional minimum parking requirements, which forces the developer to over-allocate for parking. 

Finally, congestion pricing has become a tactic used by many cities around the world, from New York City to London, to curb traffic and deter people from driving into a city’s busiest areas during peak hours. Congestion pricing is a fee charged to vehicles traveling into or within a predetermined area of a city at certain hours of certain days. The goal is to stimulate an increased incentive for users to use transit instead of cars. The money generated through congestion pricing would be added revenue to the local transportation budget. While congestion pricing is helpful in discouraging car use during peak times, Philadelphia must be cognizant of the way in which the policy is applied so that it does not penalize lower-income people who need to drive for work. 

INFRASTRUCTURE AND TECHNOLOGY CHANGES


In addition to policies to better price vehicles, many cities have implemented dedicated bus lanes, commonly called Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and emphasized transit-oriented development to further discourage vehicle use. With the addition of a BRT, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, saw ridership increase by 33%. In Richmond, Virginia, there was a 21% increase in ridership with the addition of BRT. Eugene, Oregon’s Green Line boosted speeds from 11 mph to 15 mph and increased ridership by 75%.[25] The City of Philadelphia currently has plans to partner with PennDOT and SEPTA to implement the first ever dedicated bus lane along Roosevelt Boulevard.[26] In order to further prioritize transit over the car, the City should continue focusing on developing more dedicated bus lanes and continue to promote development around transit hubs. 

Finally, while transit vehicles contribute less to air pollution and climate change than private automobiles, electrifying the current bus fleet is another strategy the City of Philadelphia has planned to lower carbon emissions city-wide. In July 2020, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania entered into a multi-stage pledge that 100% of all new medium-and heavy-duty vehicle sales will produce zero emissions by 2050, with an interim target of 30% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030.[27] More than 90% of SEPTA’s bus fleet is hybrid-electric, which has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 30% on a per mile basis compared to standard diesel counterparts. The agency also has purchased 25 electric buses and the City is working with SEPTA to ensure a transition to an all battery-electric bus fleet (BEB).[28] Currently, SEPTA has the largest BEB fleet on the East Coast and the third largest in the country. The City of Philadelphia could be a leader in battery-powered transit since few U.S. transit agencies have successfully integrated BEBs into their fleets, despite growing interest. 

Philadelphia has the potential to be a more transit-friendly city that prioritizes less carbon emitting modes, such as transit and cycling. But it will take a shift in both State and Local policy, through the allocation of transit funding and through initiatives to encourage alternative modes, respectively. Philadelphia is on the right track, but without a greater policy push, progress towards creating a Green New Deal for Transportation will be slow. 

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS


Climate projections show that Philadelphia will face warmer and wetter weather in the years to come, with the possibility of as many as 60 days above 95 degrees on average by 2100.[29] These climate changes present risks to the existing transportation network, further underscoring the need for climate action specific to the transportation sector.

The following policy recommendations are proposed as a way to put our nation on a path towards a greener, more equitable, and job-stimulating future within the transportation sector. These policies are broken into categories that address funding, zoning, and technology and will require the coordination between federal, state, and local governments. It will also require political will. The solutions are here and they are not that radical. The time has never been more urgent to take action. In order to achieve a Green New Deal for Transportation for Philadelphia the state and local government must: 

FUNDING


Increase revenue for public transit and complete streets projects, while also managing congestion, by implementing higher fees on private vehicle use.


Policy 1: Amend the State transportation plan to increase the prioritization of public transit funding and multimodal funds to a cumulative 60% in order to incentivize alternative modes of transport. 
   
Rationale:  PennDOT projects $842 million in total transportation losses from the Covid-19 crisis alone.[30] Currently, only 2% of the PennDOT budget goes to multimodel and a cumulative 20% to various public transportation funds.[31] In addition, Act 89 which allocates $450 million to public transportation annually is set to end in 2022.[32] In order to ensure the prioritization of non-car travel, PennDOT must shift the allocation of funding to more public transit and active transit modes. 

Policy 2: Increase rideshare fees to better incentivize public transit usage and require Transportation network Companies (TNCs) to disclose data on trip location. 

Rationale: In 2018, the Philadelphia Parking Authority proposed a 50 cent rideshare fee, which was projected to bring in $8 to $10 million more each year for the School District.[33] However, the proposal was opposed by many advocacy groups for burdening the poor.[34] Rideshare companies currently do not provide data on trips in Philadelphia, so it is impossible to estimate what portion of trips serve low-income areas. Requiring TNCs to disclose data in exchange for their licensing requirements would allow for more reliable tracking of this data. 

Policy 3:  Increase the cost of residential parking permits in the City. 

Rationale: Low-cost residential parking permits encourage car ownership and undervalue the land on which parking depends. Philadelphia currently offers residential permit parking on select residential streets for fees ranging from $35 for the first car to $100 per car for four or more vehicles.[35] Other cities use higher fees to more accurately reflect the price of land that parking occupies.[36] Philadelphia should increase the base price for a residential parking permit to $100 and tier up to $250 per car for households with 4 or more vehicles. To reflect that Philadelphia is one of the poorest large cities in the country, these increases in fees would only be applied to neighborhoods that are above the city median income level. 

Policy 4: Amend the current City zoning code to require a parking maximum policy for all new development.

Rationale: Parking maximums can be used along with reduced parking minimums to ensure that the minimum parking needs of a transit-oriented community are met while still encouraging walking and transit use. 

Policy 5: Establish an equitable city-wide congestion pricing policy. 

Rationale: As congestion pricing becomes a tactic used by many cities around the world to curb traffic and deter people from driving into a city’s busiest areas during peak hours, it is also viewed as a way to generate revenue for SEPTA and as a way to cull the cars clogging Philadelphia streets. While Philadelphia should follow in New York City’s footsteps and implement congestion pricing, it would have to be done in a way that does not penalize lower-income people who need to drive for work. 

Policy 6: Establish an educational campaign on the changing parking policies to better anticipate resistance and establish community buy-in through resident engagement. 
   
Rationale:
Without effective educational campaigns, resistance to these shifting policies will likely cause outrage and hostility among local residents. Currently, the City has established public educational campaigns around Vision Zero to raise awareness about dangerous driving behaviors such as aggressive driving and speeding, but similar campaigns regarding private vehicle use policy would also be useful to mitigate community resistance. It will be important to come to community meetings with options for the residents to choose from in order to ensure they feel they are the ones making the decision and that it is not just a top-down policy approach. 

ZONING 


Invest in transit improvements and establish financial incentives for developers to incorporate more Complete Streets concerns and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) into their required design and planning processes.

Policy 7: Develop dedicated bus lanes to move residents more quickly and efficiently throughout the City.

Rationale: The City of Philadelphia currently has plans to partner with PennDOT and SEPTA to implement the first ever dedicated bus lane which will run along an 8-mile stretch of Roosevelt Boulevard. Dedicated bus lanes help avoid the causes of delay that typically slow regular bus services and discourage riders. Following the installation of the bus lane on Roosevelt Boulevard,[37] the City should consider adding a dedicated bus lane to Chestnut and Market Street next. Both corridors already have a bus/bike shared lane, but would benefit from the addition of a fully dedicated bus lane to move traffic more quickly down the corridors. 

Policy 8: Incorporate a TOD district at every SEPTA station to facilitate denser, mixed-use development surrounding the station and increase the development guidelines buffer from the current, 500-foot radius to a quarter-mile radius. 

Rationale: Philadelphia has had a TOD overlay in its zoning code since 2012, but no council members have made many moves to create TOD’s in their districts. In 2018, a City Council bill simplified the process and increased bonuses to developers and landowners who use it.[38] In addition, DVRPC conducted an assessment of TOD opportunities in Greater Philadelphia in 2017. In their report, they identified SEPTA station areas with higher TOD potential. According to their analysis, many of the greatest opportunities for TOD in Philadelphia are found along the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines and along Regional Rail lines that serve the region’s core cities and close-in suburbs.[39]

TECHNOLOGY


Invest in climate-conscious transit and street infrastructure. 
 
Policy 9: Establish a 100% electric SEPTA bus fleet to lower carbon emissions city-wide. 

Rationale: With more than 90% of SEPTA’s bus fleet as hybrid-electric, the City can further lower emissions by reaching a 100% electric goal by 2030. 

Policy 10: Incorporate new technologies in street projects, such as warm-mix asphalt or cool pavement to allow Philadelphia to lengthen the paving season while reducing emissions and the urban heat island. 

Rationale: The City of Philadelphia currently incorporates green stormwater infrastructure in all new street repavement projects thanks to the Green City, Clean Waters program established in 2011.[40]  In order to take this a step further, the City should pilot projects incorporating new pavement technologies to reduce the heat island effect and prepare to become a more climate-resilient city. 

Philadelphia is lucky enough to have a legacy transportation network through SEPTA and be a transit-friendly city, but as climate change continues to worsen, Philadelphia has the potential to do much more. Transitioning the city to one that prioritizes less carbon-emitting modes, such as transit and cycling will take a shift in both state policy, through the allocation of transit funding, and local policy, through initiatives to encourage alternative modes and more climate-conscious transportation planning. Philadelphia is on the right track, but without better policies, progress towards creating a Green New Deal for Transportation will not happen soon enough. A holistic, systems approach is fundamental to realizing the priorities of a Green New Deal for Transportation in Philadelphia. Therefore, affordable housing, land use reform, and public health will also be important in creating a more just and climate-ready transportation system. While this seems like a big task, we have little choice. The future depends on reducing carbon and the transportation sector is polluter number one. 

Headshot. Emily K_BW.jpg
Emily Kennedy is a City and Regional Planning Master’s Student at the Weitzman School of Design. Prior to Penn, she completed a Fulbright research grant studying access to water in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and worked as an analyst at Cefeidas Group, a Buenos Aires-based international advisory firm. After nearly three years in Argentina, she moved to Dublin, Ireland, where she confirmed her commitment to city planning and transportation equity. She received her B.A. in global studies with minors in Spanish, Latin American studies, and political science from Providence College.

By Emily Kennedy

[16] Shoup, Donald C. “The Trouble with Minimum Parking Requirements,” 1999.   
[17] Badger, Emily. “Transit Has Been Battered by Coronavirus. What’s Ahead May Be Worse.” The New York Times. The New York Times, April 9, 2020. 
[18] “Southeast Partnership for Mobility Final Report,” May 2019. 
[19] “Stop Funding Transit like It’s 1982, Congress.” Transportation For America, November 19, 2020.   
[20] “Connect: Philadelphia’s Strategic Transportation Plan.” City of Philadelphia, October 2018.
  [21] “Greenworks: A Vison for a Sustainable Philadelphia.” City of Philadelphia, n.d.
[22] “Southeast Partnership for Mobility Final Report,” May 2019. 
[23] FoxBookmark, Justin, 

The endless quest to satisfy peak demand for free parking uses precious city space. An example of a complete street in Washington shows an alternative future with bike lanes, pedestrian space, bus rapid transit and limited parking. 

Source: Greenfield, John

The Philadelphia region has a comparatively low contribution of regional funds going to public transit compared to peer cities. This limits SEPTA’s ability to expand the system’s reach to provide better access to certain communities and more alternatives to the car.

Source: National Transit Database, 2006- 2015.

According to the City, transit vehicles contribute less to carbon emissions than private automobiles. For example, carbon emissions from cars are almost double that of the SEPTA trolleys.  

Source: City of Philadelphia, October 2018

[29] “Connect: Philadelphia's Strategic Transportation Plan.” City of Philadelphia, October 2018. 

[30] “Pennsylvania Transportation Funding,” September 1, 2020.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Laughlin, Jason. “Uber Revenue Error Prompts Renewed Call for New Philly Tax on Ride-Share Trips.” https://www.inquirer.com. The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 22, 2018.

[34] Dan Spinelli, staff writer. “PPA Proposes New Fee on Uber, Lyft and Taxi Rides.” https://www.inquirer.com. The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 20, 2018.