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A Clean Start: Argonne Spotlights Projects That Give Underserved Communities Equitable Access To Sustainable Transportation

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The Joint Office for Energy and Transportation project highlights clean mobility projects that center on community input

The backbone of every community, transportation connects people to everything from jobs and grocery stores to health care, vital services and social events.

But historically, residents of underserved communities lack access to transportation, creating barriers to its many benefits. Many underserved communities are located near industrial areas with high truck traffic, highways, rail yards and ports. These residents are disproportionally exposed to air pollution and other environmental harms.

In electrifying the country’s transportation system, the U.S. is committed to giving all residents fair and equitable access to clean, affordable transportation and its benefits. To help ensure equity in transportation projects, it is critical that underserved communities have a strong voice in planning the initiatives that will impact their neighborhoods for decades to come.

The case studies describe best practices and valuable lessons learned and serve to help others seeking to learn more about developing sustainable e-mobility projects.”  Joann Zhou, an Argonne principal transportation systems analyst and group leader for vehicle and energy technology and mobility analysis

Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory led the development of five case studies on projects that center equity in community-based electric mobility, or e-mobility, projects. E-mobility is the use of electricity to power a wide range of transportation modes, from cars and transit to bikes and scooters.

The case studies describe best practices and valuable lessons learned and serve to help others seeking to learn more about developing sustainable e-mobility projects. This includes agencies, nonprofits, companies and others centered on electrification,” said Joann Zhou, an Argonne principal transportation systems analyst and group leader for vehicle and energy technology and mobility analysis.

Along with increasing affordable mobility options, the projects are designed to create educational, business and job opportunities, reduce air pollution and improve public health in the communities.

When community residents’ mobility — the very capability that enables access to job opportunities and other necessities — is limited, disadvantages compound rapidly for residents,” said Argonne project leader Patricia Weikersheimer. ​These case studies show that projects that center deep community involvement from the very beginning get the most traction.”

The projects are in various stages of development. They are led by teams of public and private stakeholders and local community organizations who prioritize gathering and integrating community input. The initiatives also demonstrate the importance of coordinating early with utilities, local governments and other decision-makers.

Projects aim to electrify underserved areas

The projects spotlighted in the case studies span a diverse geographic mix of urban and rural areas. These range from the Bronx in New York to tribal territories in states across the upper Midwest. Projects include developing infrastructure and charging hubs for electric vehicles (EVs), electrifying heavy-duty truck fleets and bringing low-carbon shared mobility to underserved areas.

For example, the Stockton Mobility Collective project in California’s San Joaquin Valley aims to bring subsidized shared mobility options like e-carsharing and e-bikesharing to transportation-challenged areas. The pilot project includes elements such as a mobility-as-a-service electronic platform. This enables users to plan, book and pay for a range of mobility services from a phone or computer.

In the Hunts Point neighborhood in the South Bronx, asthma rates among youth are 2.5 times higher than in New York City generally. Hunts Point is home to New York state’s busiest trucking hub. This generates high levels of ozone, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. In the Bronx Is Breathing project, a key goal is creating a new public, multi-user freight charging hub designed to electrify heavy-duty fleets and dramatically reduce air pollution and noise.

The case studies are available online.

Joint Office focuses on clean, equitable, affordable transportation

Argonne developed the case studies for the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation’s United Support for Transportation Lab Consortium, a Joint Office initiative. The Consortium conducts actionable research on integrating equity into federally funded EV infrastructure deployment efforts. The Consortium comprises Argonne, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The Joint Office supports the deployment of a network of EV chargers, zero-emission fueling infrastructure and zero-emission transit and school buses. The Joint Office also provides technical assistance, analysis and support to states and localities.

By Beth Burmahl, Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.


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