Path to Zero
Path to Zero
2.20 - Transportation Decarbonization

This episode of Path to Zero is focused on the future of transportation –– a sector that is a big contributor to CO2 in the atmosphere. Tucker welcomes an expert in transportation decarbonization and policy. Mollie Cohen D’Agostino is Policy Director for the 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis.

Road, rail, air and marine transportation account for nearly 30% of CO2 emissions in the United States. They’re also expected to grow at a faster rate than any other sector.

3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program

The 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program showcases rigorous research and impartial policy analysis from UC Davis about — shared mobility, electrification and automated vehicles, which will fundamentally change transportation.

Image courtesy of UC Davis 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program

Mollie Cohen D’Agostino leads the policy outreach component of the 3R Program, and her work aims to provide an independent foundation of knowledge to decision makers. She leads the annual policy conference, legislative briefings, and other outreach events, as well as leading in the publication of policy briefs and issue papers.

“The three revolutions have an enormous amount of potential in addressing some of our biggest transportation problems,” says D’Agostino. “Much of our research is focused on how we make travel more sustainable.”

Her expertise covers areas like shared mobility and transit innovation.

More sustainable transportation like this automated, unmanned, electric, self-driving bus in Norway.

Notable Recent Transportation Policy in California

Tucker talked to Ms. D’Agostino about what she views as substantial positive changes in transportation policy. She points out how research conducted at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies has been used to encourage policy a number of times recently.

California Lawmakers recently approved Senate Bill 500, which requires all new self-driving vehicles to be zero-emission by 2030.

Another policy recently passed she finds exciting is encouraging road charge pilot programs. Instead of using the gas tax to pay for roadway maintenance, California will be able to use a new system that is being piloted. The system charges people based on how many miles they drive, not on how much gas they use.

D’Agostino finds this approach important as more electric cars join the market, cars become more efficient and roadway costs escalate.

Making Transit More Doable

D’Agostino says we could do a lot better bringing more innovation to the transit space and making on demand service options available from the public sector.

For example, providing on demand shuttle service from door to door and encouraging the use of cargo bikes. She says cargo bikes are a main mode transportation in many parts of the world and very affordable.

Congestion Pricing

Another important tool where a great deal of research has been conducted is in the area of congestion pricing.

People are charged money to drive in certain places. That fee is intended to discourage some drivers from getting on the road, potentially reducing overall traffic.

The U.S. Department of Transportation calls the pricing scheme “a way of harnessing the power of the market to reduce the waste associated with traffic congestion.”

D’Agostino says some cities are starting to implement congestion pricing. “It’s been a difficult concept to get through politically but the model has worked all over Europe and Asia.”


3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis
Mollie Cohen D’Agostino Bio
Government Technology: California Lawmakers Pass Bill Requiring AV Electrification
WIRED: California’s Air Pollution Cops Are Eyeing Uber and Lyft