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State-Level Strategies for Reducing Vehicle Miles of Travel


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation, UC ITS Research Reports

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Suggested Citation:
Byars, Michelle, Yishu Wei, Susan L. Handy (2017) State-Level Strategies for Reducing Vehicle Miles of Travel. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-17-10

The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32) created a comprehensive, multi-year program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. With the recent passage of Senate Bill 32, the State of California has adopted an additional target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. To meet these goals, the state must achieve a 15 percent reduction in total travel by light-duty vehicles by 2050 compared to expected levels.1,2 Under current state policies, reductions of this magnitude are unlikely.

Strong evidence exists that strategies across four categories – pricing, infill development, transportation investments, and travel demand management programs – can reduce vehicle miles of travel (VMT).3 The state can directly implement some of these strategies, particularly pricing strategies, through state-level policies. Others depend on actions by regional and local governments, though state-level policies can encourage their implementation through incentives, requirements, or other mechanisms.

In this paper, we identify policies and programs that are implemented or being considered at the state level for each category of strategies. States have a more direct role in implementing pricing strategies and shaping transportation investments than they do in promoting infill development and transportation demand management programs, but examples of state-level policies are found across all four categories of strategies. As California is formulating policies and programs for VMT reduction, the information presented in this paper may help guide the prioritization and refinement of state policies.

This study was made possible through funding received by the University of California Institute of Transportation Studies from the State of California’s Public Transportation Account.

Keywords: vehicle miles traveled, VMT, SB 375, land use, policy

A Research Report from the University of California Institute of Transportation Studies