Vermont’s 2021 legislative session is well under way, and everyone’s top priority is tackling COVID-19, providing economic relief to Vermonters, and rebuilding Vermont’s economy and communities to be stronger and more resilient than they were before this crisis.
We also know that the many other threats to the health and wellbeing of our people and environment are not going away. The truth is, the pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated the inadequacies and inequities that already existed in so many of our systems, from broadband access, to health care, to racial justice – to transportation.
As we work to recover from COVID and the economic crisis it wrought, there are so many ways we can and must address the underlying issues VPIRG and Vermont legislators have been grappling with years.
One great sign on that front? Last week’s introduction of the Transportation Modernization Act, which calls for a variety of policies that will cut costs for Vermonters while making transportation more accessible and cutting climate pollution at the same time.
As we lean into another COVID-era legislative session, we must focus on economic recovery in a way that matches the needs of struggling Vermonters, expands systems that help save money, emphasizes equity, and meets our climate requirements. The Transportation Modernization Act advances all of those goals.
The Transportation Modernization Act is a combination of more than a dozen policies – all with the goal of saving Vermonters money and reducing climate pollution.
It expands on existing programs like the state Electric Vehicle Incentive Program and MileageSmart – making it easier for Vermonters of low or moderate income to purchase low- and zero-emissions vehicles – vehicles that are cheaper to fuel and maintain. It calls for the continuation of fare-free transit – eliminating transit costs for people who need it most. The package also includes expanding “Complete Streets” and improving high-traffic corridors for cyclists and pedestrians – making low-cost travel a safer and more reliable option for everyone.
This legislative session, Vermont has the opportunity to take concrete action to modernize our transportation sector in a way that will save Vermonters millions of dollars as we work to recover from the COVID crisis, and reduces climate pollution at the same time.