In 2021, the City of Flagstaff, Arizona, adopted a carbon neutrality plan with the target year of 2030 and amended that plan into its Regional Plan, the comprehensive or general plan. Maintaining vehicle miles traveled at 2019 levels is a primary goal. MetroPlan of Greater Flagstaff through Stride Forward, the latest iteration of the metropolitan transportation plan, found that targeted and amplified transportation policies and significant investments in pedestrian and bicycle facilities and transit services are required to reach those plan goals.
Beyond public investment, the private sector makes important investments in transportation facilities. Solid regulatory guidance backed by quality data is needed to make these investments effective in combating climate change. MetroPlan, working with its regional partners, held two Transforming Transportation workshops to develop tools and implementation strategies.
They encountered a myriad of challenges that include:
- Determining which, if any, tools and standards should be regulatory or voluntary.
- Quantifying and explaining the effectiveness of the different regulatory tools in reducing vehicle miles traveled.
- Find the political will to implement the more impactful measures.
- Develop and maintain monitoring systems to evaluate success.
Enter MetroPlan and the Sustainable Transportation Toolbox. As a small MPO with limited funds, MetroPlan does not set policies or impose regulations but has been influential. MetroPlan’s five-year plan updates played a key role in two sets of transportation sales tax propositions to significantly transform the regional landscape. The urgency of a 2030 carbon neutrality deadline makes implementation paramount. So, working closely with the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Office through a MetroPlan grant, new tools and the foundation for new regulations have been developed.
The Toolbox accomplishes two things and sets in motion a third. First, the Toolbox creates or adapts two tools for managing VMT. One tool is a VMT Calculator calibrated to Flagstaff's regional conditions, enabling staff to estimate VMT for smaller private developments. The second tool provides details on how MetroPlan's regional travel demand model can evaluate VMT impacts of public and private developments. It also informs of VMT reduction strategies. Together, area agencies will be able to evaluate nearly 30 different strategies.
Second, the Toolbox process will set targets across several metrics determined to be necessary to reach VMT targets - chief among these is the maintenance of VMT to 2019 levels. This target setting will pull heavily from the Stride Forward MTP update. The third item sets the stage for major amendments to City zoning, subdivision, and engineering determined necessary to achieve the targets through the second Transforming Transportation Workshop.
This presentation will share an overview of Stride Forward and MetroPlan’s historical influence on regional land use, transportation policy, and transportation funding. It will also share the results from the Sustainable Transportation Toolbox workshops.