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Another Voice: Making transportation more energy efficient

By Matthew K. Enstice

Whether it’s driving to work or moving goods across the country, transportation requires energy. That energy enables our mobility, but it also comes with costs – the price at the pump, expenses for businesses and environmental consequences. If we could reshape and improve our transportation options while also using less energy, we’d all be better off.

We’re working to do just that. For the last year, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has worked with two dozen national companies, organizations and public officials to develop an agenda to make this vision a reality. The 50x50 Commission on U.S. Transportation Sector Efficiency, convened by the Alliance to Save Energy, includes vehicle manufacturers, utilities, environmental and consumer groups, unions, technology companies and mayors.

From the start, we united on a goal of cutting the energy used in U.S. transportation 50 percent by 2050 while meeting future mobility needs. It’s a bold target, but we believe it’s reachable – and by achieving it, we can lower transportation costs for families and businesses, improve our energy security, and protect the environment.

This is the right moment to plan this future because we’re on the verge of a transformational change in mobility. Ride-hailing apps are bringing a new convenience for millions of Americans. Electric and alternative fuel vehicles, which are quickly growing in number, are more energy efficient, lowering operating costs. And autonomous vehicles are going to reshape our daily routines, one day freeing our hands from the wheel.

Together, these technologies provide us with a chance to reinvent how we move people and goods. And if we get it right, we could use far less energy. But it won’t happen by itself; we need coordination, smart policy and a strategy for capitalizing on this opportunity.

Today, the 50x50 Commission is releasing our recommendations for policymakers focusing on three themes:

Transform. Policymakers should not only seek to enhance the efficiency of vehicles, but to realize the energy savings of integrating our transportation into a seamless and well-coordinated system that encourages use of the most efficient modes of transport.

Innovate. The U.S. should prioritize its leadership in pursuing research and development of efficient transport technologies.

Invest. Congress should support the use of electric, hybrid and efficient renewable natural gas vehicles through investments in charging and alternative fueling infrastructure, awareness campaigns and incentives.

Throughout this transformation, policymakers need to ensure low-income and underserved consumers have access to improved mobility and that the workforce is well-prepared for the sector’s transitions.

Together, the 50x50 Commission is going to campaign to see these recommendations adopted. We can’t let this opportunity go by. Join us as we help America move to a more energy-efficient transportation future.

Matthew K. Enstice is CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and member of the 50x50 Commission.

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