Providing Environmentally-Safe Alternative Vehicles for Transportation

One of the problems America currently faces is its reliance on gasoline and oil. Both gasoline and oil are limited resources that will eventually run out if we continue to use both at the same volume we are using them at the present time. Increased population means increased traffic on both secondary roads and highways that means increased pollution. There are many things both the consumer and car companies should and must do to help save the environment and find more economically sound solutions.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation provides many alternatives to driving alone to and from work. Their mission statement is to “provide safe, efficient, and cost-effective transportation system that meets the mobility needs of its users”. The “Don’t Go it Alone: Ride Together and Save” campaign helps commuters avoid traffic congestion and save on commuting costs. Two hundred and thirty Park & Ride locations are located throughout the state and provide free parking for commuters. The lots are patrolled by police and are located near major highways, near and in major cities, and along many heavily traveled secondary routes. (Busch 1-10)

The Connecticut Transit provides bus transportation to those in Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford. The Connecticut Rail Commuter Council provides train transportation to those along the Connecticut shoreline. Metropool is a free commuter service sponsored by the CT DOT. The Rideshare Company provides a list of car and vanpools as well as a service called Easy Street in which people can reserve a seat to their workplace on the Easy Street van. The Rideshare Company provides services to the Greater Hartford area and to Eastern Connecticut.

“With the national concern for clean air and the proven health and environmental concerns associated with pollution, electric vehicle technology is one way of providing cleaner transportation alternatives to the traditional combustion engine.” (Fahricator 3) The Rideshare Company in cooperation with the Connecticut DOT are working on the Connecticut Commuter Electric Vehicle Demonstration Project. The project was started in spring 1995 and tests the feasibility of electric vehicles (EVs) for use in Connecticut. The project has proven successful and the results of the ongoing project are helping car manufacturers develop electric vehicles that would be able to withstand a variety of terrains and a variety of temperatures. “The growth of the Electric Vehicle industry will also have a positive economic impact on both the national and local level due to the creation of numerous opportunities for both small companies and large corporations.” (Fahricator 3)

Ford Motor Company announced its first mass-market hybrid-electric vehicle, Escape HEV will go on sale. The small sport utility vehicle will get about 40 miles to the gallon and go between 500 to 600 miles on a tank of gas. Hybrid-electric vehicles use a combination of battery, electric motor, and traditional internal combustion engine. (Ford to build hybrid-electric SUV 1-2) “Hybrid-electric vehicles obtain their fuel efficiency by having the electric motor take over when the vehicle idling or coasting. The electric motor gets its power from the battery. The battery does not need to be recharged by the driver because a regenerative braking system captures energy from the brakes and stores it as electricity.” (Ford to build hybrid-electric SUV 2)

It is quite obvious that foreign countries have taken advantage of the fact that we rely on them very heavily for gasoline. In 1999, prices for gasoline range from $1.49 to $1.71 for a gallon of regular unleaded gas. Many car manufacturers (foreign and domestic) make vehicles bigger, which in turn use more gasoline and force us to buy more gas from foreign countries. Car buyers should use more caution in looking at about an average estimate of how many miles a car can go on a gallon of gas and how many miles it can go on a tank of gas.

Connecticut’s highways – in particular I-84, I-95, and I-91 all experience heavy volume especially during rush hour. Commuters going to work go faster and faster on the highways and in doing so use more and more gas. The average highway speed limit was recently changed in Connecticut from 55 MPH to 65 MPH causing many motorists to drive anywhere between 65 MPH and 85 MPH making highways even more dangerous. Adding more lanes to current highways or making current two-lane routes into four-lane routes would only encourage more traffic. Instead of building roads, the DOT should focus on encouraging alternative uses of transportation. These alternative uses include increasing bus and train transportation, building subways, continuing with its Connecticut Commuter Electric Vehicle Demonstration Project, and continue to alert the public of these transit systems through its website and the media.

References

Busch, Frank (webmaster). 20 January 2000. Traveler & Road Information: Park & Ride Information: Your Guide to Connecticut Park & Ride Locations. Connecticut Department of Transportation. http://www.state.ct.us/dot/trav_info/index.html Accessed: 4/16/00. 1-10.

Busch, Frank (webmaster). 20 January 2000. Connecticut Department of Transportation. http://www.state.ct.us/dot Accessed: 4/16/00. 1-2.

Fahricatore, David. 12 March 1997. Connecticut Commuter Electric Vehicle Demonstration Project: Electric Commuter Vehicle AK/ARPA/NAVC Project. The Rideshare Company. http://www.rideshare.com/ev/default.htm Accessed: 4/10/00. 1-6.

Ford to build hybrid-electric SUV. 6 April 2000. CNBC & The Wall Street Journal Business: Automotive News. MSNBC News Website. http://www.msnbc.com/news/391802.asp Accessed: 4/16/00. 1-5.

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