Apr 18, 2024 - News

San Diego ranks among best cities for clean transit

Illustration of a bus with both thumbs up and thumbs down in the destination ticker.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

San Diego is among the nation's top metro areas limiting transportation's impact on greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent report.

Why it matters: Transportation is the biggest driver of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide and particularly in San Diego County, where vehicles account for more than two-thirds of smog-forming emissions.

State of play: The San Diego metro area was sixth overall on a new index that ranks the 100 biggest U.S. cities on a variety of transportation-related emissions factors.

Between the lines: The Transportation Climate Impact Index, created by transit-analysis firm StreetLight Data, looks at overall vehicle miles traveled, fuel efficiency, electric vehicles, transit ridership, cycling, walking and truck miles traveled.

  • These metrics help identify areas for improvement and where ongoing efforts are impactful.

By the numbers: The San Diego metro area ranked fourth in electric-vehicle adoption and daily walking trips, and fifth in biking activity and truck miles traveled.

  • It ranked 26th in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) — the top contributor to an area's emissions and most heavily weighted — and 46th for VMT change from 2022-23.
  • San Diego's transit ridership and fuel economy ranked 12th and 13th, respectively.

Zoom in: San Diego is working to reach net-zero emissions by 2035, in part by embracing EVs and shifting commutes away from cars and towards bicycles, public transit or walking.

  • The city plans to reduce its VMT through a proposed mobility master plan that is currently out for public feedback. The City Council will likely consider it in the fall.

Meanwhile, the city is working to bolster its EV-charging network and electrify its fleet.

Reality check: Despite its progress, the city needs to double biking, walking and transit commuting by 2030 to meet its goals.

What we're watching: San Diego voters in November decide the fate of a sales tax increase for transportation projects throughout the county.

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