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Open Access Publications from the University of California
Cover page of The Current and Future Performance and Costs of Battery Electric Trucks: Review of Key Studies and A Detailed Comparison of Their Cost Modeling Scope and Coverage

The Current and Future Performance and Costs of Battery Electric Trucks: Review of Key Studies and A Detailed Comparison of Their Cost Modeling Scope and Coverage

(2022)

This project aims to assess the current and future performance and costs of battery electric trucking, through reviewing key recent studies in the U.S. and presenting a detailed comparison of their cost modeling scope and coverage. This white paper presents a review of 10 recent studies of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of battery electric trucks (BET), now and in the future, compared to a baseline diesel truck, for the following 3 important types of truck: heavy-duty long-haul trucks, medium-duty delivery trucks, and heavy-duty drayage/short-haul trucks. The researchers break down the studies into their estimates for a range of important cost and operating factors, such as vehicle purchase cost, efficiency, fuel cost, maintenance cost, required range and thus battery pack sizing, and other factors. Of note are differences in major assumptions of studies and variables that are included or excluded from consideration. The authors do not judge these studies against each other but attempt to derive general findings that are robust across studies, areas of significant difference, and areas for further research. Overall, TCO estimates across the studies, for a given truck type, can vary dramatically, though often several studies cluster together. But as this study explores, the differences in TCO link directly to differences in assumptions, parameters and other differences across the studies. The studies vary in important ways that should be taken into account when comparing TCO estimates. Policy makers should consider the context of truck type, truck use and other factors when reading such studies, and pay attention to assumptions. Policies should reflect the wide range of situations that trucks may encounter and avoid assuming a simple average TCO across all situations.

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Cover page of Improving the Transfer of Knowledge from Scientists to Policy Makers: Best Practices and New Opportunities to Engage

Improving the Transfer of Knowledge from Scientists to Policy Makers: Best Practices and New Opportunities to Engage

(2022)

Many scientific projects are intended to inform public policy, however there are often difficulties transferring or translating research from scientists to policy makers. This paper reviews the existing literature on the quality of communication between scientists or field experts and policy makers and the challenges they face in conveying their research. A majority of best practice recommendations related to effective communication are rooted in anecdotal evidence and have not yet been subjected to systematic scientific study. This is, in part, because the nature of public policy makes data collection, randomization, or correcting for confounding factors extremely challenging. Studies that do put these recommendations to the test are most commonly fielded as national surveys of field experts and policy makers in comparative contexts. Few studies examine this subject in the United States, however, and most find mixed results as to the efficacy of well-accepted scientific communication strategies. Further, existing work often fails to account for the impact of reputation on the willingness of scientists to engage in policymaking and the willingness of political actors to seek and accept expert input in the policymaking process, unless it confirms pre-existing biases. The authors explain how this gap in the literature has important consequences for the quality of policies produced and suggest future avenues of research in the pursuit of sincere evidence-based policymaking.

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Cover page of Workforce Implications of Transitioning to Zero-Emission Buses in Public Transit

Workforce Implications of Transitioning to Zero-Emission Buses in Public Transit

(2022)

This white paper provides educational and policy-driven approaches to sustainable transportation workforce development in the transit sector with a focus on knowledge transfer and training strategies for zero-emission bus technologies. The authors draw from a comprehensive survey of national research, interviews with transit leaders, and case studies to identify the most critical technology transfer gaps in the adoption of zero-emission bus technologies. The paper concludes with strategic transit workforce priorities and related recommendations for transit leaders, educational partners, and policy makers.

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Cover page of Environmental Plans and Freight Movement at the San Pedro Bay Ports: A Quick Strike Analysis

Environmental Plans and Freight Movement at the San Pedro Bay Ports: A Quick Strike Analysis

(2022)

Critical to freight movement in Southern California are environmental plans at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and Port of Long Beach (POLB). The combined port complex is the single largest fixed source of air pollution in the South Coast Air Basin. This white paper presents three case studies from the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), including brief analyses of their effects on freight movement in the region. This research also includes a case study of a private-sector, yet-to-be-built infrastructure project designed to support the faster movement of freight out of the San Pedro Bay Ports called the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG). The case studies are provided to elucidate how self-regulating agreements and operator-led programs contribute to regional environmental goals for freight operations. The findings indicate in part that stakeholder power relationships influence the ability to both develop environmental strategies and determine their outcomes. They also indicate that port-focused plans are more effective when their impact on the entire supply chain is considered. The research also helps to illustrate examples of unintended consequences of freight-related environmental measures which will prove useful to policymakers and operators alike.

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Cover page of Challenges and Opportunities for Publicly Funded Electric Vehicle Carsharing

Challenges and Opportunities for Publicly Funded Electric Vehicle Carsharing

(2022)

Over the last six years, from 2016 through 2021, a wave of new federal, state, and local funding has supported carsharing services that use electric vehicles and install electric vehicle chargers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and address climate change. In addition, many of these same funding programs allow support for the location of services in underserved communities with fare levels that enable community members to access these services. This study first explores the potential climate change benefits for carsharing services and the need for these services in underserved areas by reviewing the available published literature. Next, the study discusses the evolution of carsharing in the U.S., including non-profit, for-profit, and recent government-funded carsharing, drawing on published reports, newspaper articles, and expert interviews. Finally, the authors draw conclusions of relevance for future government-funded carsharing programs.

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Cover page of What Happened and Will Happen with Biofuels? Review and Prospects for Non-Conventional Biofuels in California and the U.S.: Supply, Cost, and Potential GHG Reductions

What Happened and Will Happen with Biofuels? Review and Prospects for Non-Conventional Biofuels in California and the U.S.: Supply, Cost, and Potential GHG Reductions

(2021)

This paper examines past and future trends for non-conventional biofuels in transportation in the next decade and beyond in California and the U.S., drawing on existing literature. It finds policy was geared toward expanding use of technology-ready biofuels in the 2010s; hydroprocessed renewable diesel from lipid feedstocks and biogas were beneficiaries alongside conventional ethanol and biodiesel. Cellulosic ventures largely failed due to lack of technological readiness, high cost, and an uncertain and insufficient policy environment. Policy goals for competitive cellulosic fuels remain, yet fuels from technologies already in the market may suffice to meet low carbon fuel policy targets, at least in California until 2030, considerably more oilcrop-based biofuels. How much biofuel will be needed there and elsewhere to meet climate targets hinges critically on the pace and scope of zero emission vehicle, and particularly electric vehicle, rollout. Analysis of unintended market consequences like indirect land use change has evolved over the decade but remains uncertain; current policy structures do not comprehensively safeguard against increased emissions. Market activity for non-conventional fuels has targeted biojet. Pioneer plants using new conversion technologies, if successful, will take some time to scale. Technoeconomic analyses (TEAs) for such non-conventional fuels point to no clear biofuel conversion technology winner as yet, given uncertainties. TEAs are evolving to reduce uncertainty by concentrating more on robust returns in the face of uncertain policies, potential additional cost-cutting for new technologies given what is known about processes involved, and potential revenue-raising through new coproducts or shifting product slates. Policies are needed to make initial financing more secure. Additional policy and societal attention to appropriate use of biomass, and land more generally, in a low carbon future is needed to clarify likely feedstock supply for biofuels that will enhance climate goals with low risk of unintended consequences.

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Cover page of Workforce Development Needs of Transportation Sector Climate Adaptation Professionals

Workforce Development Needs of Transportation Sector Climate Adaptation Professionals

(2021)

Climate adaptation is now a well-documented need in the transportation sector, and there are strong conceptual frameworks for the adaptation process. Since climate adaptation is an emerging field, the pathways for developing the skills and competencies for adaptation careers are not well established. This white paper assesses the workforce development needs and current training opportunities related to transportation-sector climate adaptation. To do so, training needs were examined and opportunities identified by state and regional transportation agencies; training needs of aspiring and early-career climate adaptation professionals were cataloged; and a scan was completed of the educational opportunities in climate adaptation currently offered by universities in the United States. There is evidence of convergence on the areas of content knowledge, technical expertise, and soft skills that form the core competencies necessary to support climate adaptation within the transportation sector. These core competencies are in climate science, adaptation strategies, communication, and selection of adaptation measures/decision making under uncertainty. While these competencies need to be broadly distributed throughout transportation agencies, the relative emphasis placed on each competency will vary across agency functions and job responsibilities. The increased value placed on adaptation-related expertise by state departments of transportation and regional transportation agencies, as well as the emergence of new educational and training opportunities in climate adaptation available in higher education and professional organizations, is indicative of the potential for rapid growth in this area.

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Cover page of Building a GIS Workshop for High School Students

Building a GIS Workshop for High School Students

(2021)

Geographic information systems (GIS) are an increasingly relevant tool being used in a variety of workforces. While education on GIS is well developed at the collegiate level and in workforce training programs, it is underutilized in K-12 settings. Research indicates that learning GIS can improve spatial and critical thinking skills in students, key elements for excelling in a variety of careers. Best practices indicate that teaching GIS through projects in a cross disciplinary setting (i.e., including math, science, and writing elements to projects), students may retain even more information about the subject matters and develop a greater interest in STEM and GIS related fields. Incorporating projects that are salient to student life such as themes of sustainability may increase student interest as well. Instructor fluency in GIS and mapping was found to be key to successful GIS education as well. When developing a GIS workshop, the authors recommend incorporating interdisciplinary projects that are salient to student interest, and pair it with a teacher educator workshop that highlights the benefits of using GIS in an educational setting. With the limited time of a single day workshop, focusing on gaining buy-in and explaining feasibility will be key to any successful workshop.

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Cover page of Setting TNC Policies to Increase Sustainability

Setting TNC Policies to Increase Sustainability

(2021)

Cities and states across the U.S. are assessing fees or taxes on transportation network company (TNC) platforms, such as Uber and Lyft. The goals of these policies include traffic and emissions mitigation, as well as revenue generation, among other objectives. This research aims to assess the goals and effectiveness of these fees in achieving some of these policy objectives, primarily congestion and emissions mitigation. The analysis addresses a core difficulty in comparing TNC fees—some fees are assessed per mile and others per trip. The researchers compared 21 fees implemented by state and local governments across the United States and apply a methodology to compare these diverse fees and taxes based on a hypothetical ride informed by Uber’s fare calculator, as well as other sources. The findings show that when adjusted for comparison, the highest fees, by a wide margin, are assessed in downtown New York City and Chicago (during peak hours). A key policy implication of this research is that most fees or taxes are not large enough to affect enough travelers' choices to hail a TNC, and most do not differentiate between solo and pooled/shared rides. Only San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and New Jersey differentiate between solo and shared rides, which is likely to influence travelers in choosing to share a ride. This is problematic given that increasing passengers per vehicle mile traveled is an essential strategy in managing congestion and reducing emissions associated with all vehicle travel, including TNCs.

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Cover page of What California Gains from Reducing Car Dependence

What California Gains from Reducing Car Dependence

(2020)

Cars provide an unparalleled level of mobility but have negative financial, public health, environmental, and social impacts. Reducing the need for driving in California would produce a range of household- and community-level benefits. Driving is associated with adverse health effects (e.g., obesity, high blood pressure, depression, injuries, fatalities), while commuting by walking or biking provides numerous physical and mental health benefits. A reduction in driving would also improve public health by decreasing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It would save substantial sums of money:  households spend about $9,000/year or 16% of their expenses on private vehicle ownership (2017 data) and the state spends over $500 million per year on highway maintenance. A less car-dependent society would also be more equitable for those with limited income or limited physical abilities who cannot drive, to the benefit not just of those individuals but the community as a whole. While it is not realistic in the foreseeable future for most Californians to live without their cars, it is possible to decrease car dependence. Doing so requires a shift away from a century-old prioritization of the goal of reducing vehicle delays over other important goals. Creating a less car-dependent world is not necessarily more costly to the public and can be achieved over time through changes in land use and transportation planning practices. Answers to many of the frequently asked questions about such efforts are provided.

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