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Posts from the ‘transportation’ Category

Clearing the air is easier than ever

Winter is coming. And along with it, inversion season. As temperature and pressure changes trap pollutants in the Salt Lake Valley, it is an important time to recommit to reducing our impact.

Air pollution in general is extremely costly in terms of public health and our economy. In the U.S., we spend $131 billion in air quality-related damages each year. The costs to our well-being are enormous. Bad air is linked to asthma, pneumonia, pregnancy loss, and premature death.

Luckily, expansions to our public transportation infrastructure are making it even easier to leave your car at home and help clear the air.

Idle Free sign near City and County Building

Public Transit Expansions

One way to avoid driving is to make use of public transit.

In July, Salt Lake City and the Utah Transit Authority expanded services on three essential routes, the 2, 9, and 21 bus. The expansions are critical steps towards improving air quality because they allow more riders to take advantage of the public system.

The bus route expansions are among several enhancements made possible through the Funding our Futures income (comprised of a sales tax increase, passed by the City Council, and a bond, approved by Salt Lake City voters, in 2018.)

The results are already starting to come in!

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Paying for Poor Air: The Cost of Regional Air Pollution

By SLCgreen intern Kelbe Goupil

Air quality, air quality, air quality…will we ever stop talking about it? Until our air is consistently clean and no longer putting our health and economy at risk, probably not.

Bad air day in Salt Lake City

Talking about air pollution is important to us here at SLCgreen, not only because of how harmful it is to our health but also because of how expensive it is.

Let’s face it: bad air is damaging our economy. And not just in Utah. Air pollution in the U.S. costs the nation at least $131 billion in damages annually, including higher healthcare costs. Globally, the cost of pollution-related death, sickness, and welfare is $4.6 trillion per year, which is about 6.2% of the global economy.

Let’s talk about why that is and what can be done about it. 

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Electrified Transportation Really is Cleaner!

by SLCgreen intern Kelbe Goupil

We talk a lot about electric vehicles at SLCgreen (seriously – check it out).

That’s because they’re one of the critical pieces of transitioning our community to a lower carbon footprint (and they’re pretty fun to drive too).

Therefore, over the last several years, SLCgreen has developed policies to promote electric vehicle adoption in the community at large and in our government fleet.

But this support is not without substantive research and justification.

While EVs are a key part of the puzzle, they’re not a panacea to climate change or our air quality problems. Other forms of transportation (biking, walking, riding the bus or train) and good urban planning are just as important.

Today, however, we are taking a deep dive on a common question regarding electric vehicles– just how clean are they?

Read on and dig in.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station
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Salt Lake City Unveils 8 New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Mayor Jackie Biskupski “unveils” the latest electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Salt Lake City, April 22, 2019.

Salt Lake City recently unveiled the latest electric vehicle (EV) public charging infrastructure.

These stations increase the total number of City-owned public EV charging ports to 38 plus 16 at the Airport, and complement an even more robust charging network available throughout the city.

The newest Level 2 EV charging ports opened last month at three separate Salt Lake City locations: Mountain Dell Golf Course, the Regional Athletic Complex, and on-street parking on 500 South, just south of The Leonardo.

“Electrifying transportation is one of the most meaningful ways we can tackle air quality problems in the Salt Lake Valley,” said Mayor Biskupski. “The City applauds the many residents and businesses investing in electric vehicles and is pleased to offer charging opportunities for these clean air champions.”

Funding for the project was provided in part by a grant from the Utah Division of Air Quality, building off the initial installation of 28 ports in 2017.

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Mayor Biskupski Urges Climate Action Before Congress

On Tuesday, April 2, Mayor Biskupski appeared before the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change to discuss how a warming planet is affecting Salt Lake City– from our air quality, to wildfires, to drought, to the ski industry, and more.

To see the full testimony, watch the video below (Mayor Biskupski begins at roughly 2:40:40)

See news coverage here:

  • Deseret News: Salt Lake City mayor urges action on climate change in testimony before congressional committee
  • Salt Lake Tribune: Biskupski touts Salt Lake City’s efforts to address climate change and urges the federal government to step up
  • KSL: Salt Lake City mayor urges action on climate change in testimony before congressional committee
  • KUER: Salt Lake City Mayor: Cities Are Already Fighting Climate Change, Now Washington Needs To Step Up

Her written testimony is included below. Also check out her 5-minute remarks on the Mayor’s site.

FULL WRITTEN TESTIMONY

Mayor Jacqueline M. Biskupski
Testimony before the Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change
April 2, 2019

Committee Members:

Thank you for welcoming me here today, and for taking the time to hear from local elected officials on the topic of climate change.

My name is Jackie Biskupski. I’m proud to serve as Mayor for the 200,000 residents of Salt Lake City—a position I’ve had since 2016. I’m also Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Alliance for a Sustainable Future—a committee dedicated to forging connections between the public and private sectors to collaboratively tackle our environmental challenges. I’m also co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy coalition, and a member of Climate Mayors and Women 4 Climate.

Salt Lake City is a majestic and special place.  Over 25 years ago, I came to Utah for a ski trip and I never left! We are the crossroads of the west and are blessed to have world-class recreation, breathtaking natural splendors, a strong economy, a vibrant culture, and a collaborative spirit.

Today I am here to discuss what we are already experiencing in Salt Lake City, and how we are working tremendously hard to avoid the worst effects that are projected. But we need your help.

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Recent Free Fare Days Saved 5 Tons of Air Pollution

Remember when Salt Lake City partnered with Salt Lake County, Davis County, Intermountain Healthcare, and UTA to host Free Fare Days on Feb. 28 and March 1? The official UTA press release results are posted below! But first, follow Mayor Jackie Biskupski on her donut delivery quest the first day of free rides . . .

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

UTA MEDIA RELEASE

FREE FARE DAYS ON UTA SUCCESSFUL

Agency sees ridership increases throughout the system

The results from UTA’s Free Fare Days on February 28 and March 1 show a 16% increase in boardings for the entire system. Using the average weekday boardings in February 2019 as a baseline (151,933 boardings system wide) overall ridership on Thursday, February 28 jumped to 171,664 and on Friday, March 1 there was an even larger increase to 181,365 passengers.

Free Fare Days were sponsored by Salt Lake County, Intermountain Healthcare, the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office and Davis County in partnership with UTA.

“UTA is excited about the ridership increases we saw during the Free Fare Days and would like to thank the sponsors who made it possible,” said UTA Board Chairman Carlton Christensen. “We are especially pleased with the ridership increase we saw on the bus system. UTA has been focusing on increasing bus service and we wanted people to try riding the bus on the Free Fare Days. We look forward to upcoming plans to increase frequency, expand service hours and add weekend service on the bus system.”

Compared to 75,479 average weekday boardings in February 2019 bus ridership increased 10%. On Thursday February 28, 82,489 passengers rode UTA buses and on Friday March 1 the number improved to 83,818. This increase in bus ridership stands out in comparison to the previous free fare event in December 2017 when bus ridership did not increase by a noticeable margin.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said, “This is evidence people will change their patterns if cost is addressed. I’ll be working with UTA and partners to find ways to address going forward, especially during inversions.”

TRAX experienced a 14% increase during the two free fare days, with a daily average of 65,366 riders. A typical day in February saw TRAX carry 57,319 boardings. On Thursday February 28 TRAX ridership increased to 64,420 boardings and on Friday March 1 the number grew to 66,312 riders.

“Free Fare Days consistently show that when you remove burdens from transit, people take it,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “What leaders should take away from these results is that investing in transit pays off, both in terms of clearing our air and creating equity in our community.”

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Clear the Air by . . . Driving?

At least by driving smarter.

Hear us out: You’ve heard that a big chunk– roughly 50 percent — of Salt Lake City’s winter air pollution comes from motor vehicles.

That’s why SLCgreen promotes cleaner transportation and getting out of our cars as much as possible, particularly during February and the Clear the Air Challenge.

But, we know that taking public transit, biking, or purchasing an electric vehicle is not practical for everyone – yet! However, there are some important ways to reduce pollution even when you do drive.

We all want to take better care of our health and live in a healthy world and by planning ahead we can help our city have fewer red air days! Here’s how:

Avoid Cold Starts. Cold starts occur when we start our vehicles after they have been resting long enough for the engine to get cold.

Did you know? A majority of the air pollutants used across an entire journey are emitted in the first few minutes after you start your car.

A study from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality “found that 75 percent of combined pollutants and emissions are emitted from a car during the first three minutes after a cold start,” as described in a UCAIR’s blog post and video below.   

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