ITS-Davis research highlighted in magazine’s 20th anniversary

By Alston Lim • UC Davis 2014

Three articles by ITS-Davis researchers are featured in the latest issue of the University of California Transportation Center’s ACCESS Magazine. The articles, which range from domestic policy subjects to topics of international consequences, translate the findings of ITS-Davis research into pertinent material for the magazine’s global audience.

In “Peering Inside the Pork Barrel,” Gian-Claudia Sciara discusses ways to improve transparency and effectiveness of federal transportation funding earmarks. Although recent fiscal pressures from the economic crisis have forced both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives to temporarily suspend the practice of earmarking federal funding to transport projects, Sciara suggests it will inevitably resume. She thus focuses on what elected officials and agency leaders can do to coordinate earmarks with their regional and state transport plans and explains how members of Congress can adjust their own practices to make future earmarks more compatible with planned investments. Sciara is a postdoctoral scholar at the Urban Land Use and Transportation Center (ULTRANS).

In “Double the Fuel Economy, Half the CO2 Emissions, and Even Automakers Like It,” Nic Lutsey discusses the political and stakeholder process and the technical underpinnings of the recently finalized 2017-2025 federal standards on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission for light-duty vehicles. Lutsey provides a clear look at the challenges and solutions that automakers, regulators and stakeholders addressed and offers insight into the ways that the federal standards interact with California’s vehicle greenhouse and Zero Emission Vehicle regulations. But most importantly, Lutsey illustrates the significance of these new vehicle efficiency standards in terms of their impact on consumers and their broader societal benefit. As a postdoctoral researcher at ITS-Davis, Lutsey served as a research consultant for the California Air Resources Board while the agency worked with federal regulators on these new standards. He recently joined the International Council on Clean Transportation as a program director.

The third article is a collaboration between Yunshi Wang, director of the UC Davis China Center on Energy and Transportation; Jacob Teter, a graduate student researcher at ITS-Davis; and Daniel Sperling, founding director of ITS-Davis. It examines the implications of a rise in China’s vehicle population for both the environment and global energy resources. In “Will China’s Vehicle Population Grow Even Faster than Forecasted?” the ITS-Davis authors studied the historical growth of large vehicle-producing countries, in order to project China’s annual vehicle growth. Their data show how rapid motorization in China could threaten global oil supplies and exacerbate climate change.

The articles are available in the 41st edition of the publication, which also marks the magazine’s 20th anniversary.

Photo: The Gravina Island Bridge, originally funded by a $223 million earmark in the 2005 federal highway transportation bill, would have linked Ketchikan, Alaska, with Gravina Island. It became famous as a “bridge to nowhere” in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. It was never built. Credit: Conceptual rendering by Gravina Access Project, 2001.