Airzona State Universitty Professor Ram Pendyala is available to offer transportation insight related to the American Jobs Plan, President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure overhaul. Pull quotes provided below may be used with full attribution and notification of use.
Pendyala directs TOMNET, a Tier 1 University Transportation Center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The center advances transportation systems planning and the mobility of people and goods by harnessing data analytics and behavioral science to understand, explain and forecast travel choices and mobility decisions.
Pendyala also is Director of Fulton Engineering’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. He is on the editorial boards of leading transportation journals, has conducted more than $12 million in sponsored research and published more than 200 research articles.
“As transportation investment priorities are identified, we cannot afford to ignore the long view in an era of rapid change,” says Pendyala. As global supply chains become increasingly complex and consumers increasingly depend on delivery-based services, the nation must invest in its ports, airports, and terminals to facilitate the efficient flow of goods and services.
“The demand for long distance transportation demand continues to grow, which calls for substantial investments in Amtrak in the short term and the development of a blueprint for an eventual nationwide high-speed rail system that can effectively serve short- to medium-distance trips”.
“Connected and automated vehicles, zero-emission urban air mobility, and drone-based delivery and infrastructure monitoring systems, constitute rapidly evolving technologies that will revolutionize transportation in the future.”
“The nation needs to invest heavily in research and development activities to help accelerate the development and deployment of these technologies in the real world. Funding should be included to field connected and automated vehicle technology pilots in communities across the nation to prepare people and businesses alike for a new and different mobility future.”
- Modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads and main streets
With the rapid pace of change in the transportation and mobility space, Pendyala says the nation cannot afford to delay passage of transportation reauthorization bill to succeed the $305 Billion Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The Act was signed into law in 2015 and expired in September 2020. Several subsequent bills were introduced in the House and Senate, but did not make it through to legislation.
“Despite the FAST Act, transportation funding and revenue streams have not kept up with the needs of a growing population,” said Pendyala. “This limits our ability to maintain the transportation infrastructure we have, let alone invest in new systems and technologies that could have a transformative impact on the nation’s economy.”
“Businesses and people will experience ever-increasing costs and productivity losses if the infrastructure were to deteriorate further; and delayed maintenance will render fixes and upgrades increasingly cost-prohibitive,” he said. “In the absence of clear and decisive action on transportation investments, extreme events – occurring with increasing frequency and severity in the recent past – will render our transportation systems vulnerable and unusable.”
- Accelerate the shift to electric vehicles and the electric vehicle market.
“With transportation contributing to nearly 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, it is imperative that we invest in a transportation future that is substantially less carbon intensive,” said Pendyala.
“As the market experiences a surge in available electric vehicle options in the next few years, we must invest in a ubiquitous charging infrastructure that makes it possible for people to travel and fleets to operate without concerns about driving range,” he said.
“Aside from the move toward electric, we find that bicycling and walking are experiencing a renaissance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pendyala emphasized. “These sustainable modes of transportation promote health and well-being while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation system.
Clearly, the time has come to invest in alternative fuels and sustainable modes of transportation so that generations to come will recognize that the arc of transportation was forever bent during this pivotal moment, reversing a century of transportation’s deleterious effects on the environment, social equity, and racial justice.”
- Modernize existing transit and help agencies expand their systems to meet demand. This would double federal funding for public transit.
“Public transit systems are in need of a major overhaul to adapt to changing market conditions characterized by an increasingly competitive landscape and shifting consumer preferences”, Pendyala said. “Transit agencies need to transform into agile mobility service providers, offering on-demand curb-to-curb shared mobility that is flexible and addresses first-mile last-mile connectivity.”