City leaders should expand their field of electric transportation beyond cars, panelists said
Education, community engagement and adaptation will be key to delivering cleaner mobility choices to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color as the country shifts to electric vehicles (EVs), experts said at the meeting. ‘an online webinar hosted by global consulting services company ICF.
Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are more affected by air pollution generated by transport and have fewer resources to pay for new electric vehicles, says ICF’s senior director of transportation electrification and ICF’s climate center Stacy Noble. Power companies, aided by cities, transportation providers and nongovernmental organizations, can help provide access to electric transportation in these underserved communities, the panelists said.
“It’s important to think about how different segments will engage in electrification,” said Garrett Fitzgerald, director of electrification at the Smart Electric Power Alliance.
Most car buyers don’t buy new vehicles, Fitzgerald said, and low-income buyers are the least likely to do so. This means that although automakers are producing more electric vehicles, it will be a few years before they reach a large majority of car owners.
“We really need to broaden the scope of what electrification means, beyond just privately owned light vehicles, but to include public transport, school buses, VTCs. [transportation network companies], electric bikes, [and] the second-hand market, ”said Fitzgerald.
For example, low-income households rely more on school buses than high-income families, and nearly 95% of school buses run on diesel, according to Matt Stanberry, chief executive of Highland electric transport. The air quality inside these vehicles can also be up to 12 times dirtier that the quality of the ambient air, leading to asthma and other childhood health problems, Stanberry said.
Just a few years ago, there was little interest in electric school buses, Stanberry said. But now he said school districts are looking to electrify their fleets. “It’s a radical change,” he said.
While it’s important to replace older, more polluting vehicles, the Greenlining Institute’s Transportation Equity Legal Advisor, Román Partida-López asked, “Are we really deploying community-managed solutions?” ”
Partida-López urged to set equity targets as part of any electrification plan, which should include engagement with the community and a willingness on the part of cities and transit agencies to learn, adapt and adjust their programs as needed.
Exelon joined Lyft in Baltimore, for example, to provide 100 electric vehicles by carpooling in a pilot program to serve low and middle income communities. “We believe that partnering with our customers and our communities is key to understanding what their needs are and how we can help them in this transition,” said Denise Galambos, vice president of utilities oversight at the utility company. Exelon audiences.
“The benefits of a program cannot be fully realized if community members are not aware of them,” Noblet said.