Golden Gate University Law Review


This Comment urges the legislature to manipulate travel time in order to reduce GHGE (greenhouse gas emissions). Specifically, the legislature must incentivize mass transit by creating easier, quicker transit systems while simultaneously disincentivizing personal automobiles by increasing automobile travel time. By manipulating the travel time for various modes of travel, the legislature can effectively reduce GHGE while increasing individuals’ quality of life by creating an infrastructure that costs less and provides transportation systems not dependent on the automobile.

This Comment explains why the Sustainable Communities Act will fail to significantly reduce vehicle emissions, and this Comment proposes legislative action to reach the goals established in the Global Warming Solutions Act. Part I of this Comment discusses the relationship between the automobile and urban decentralization in America. Part II discusses legislation in California targeting automobile emissions, including regional smart-growth measures and state legislative actions targeted at reducing GHGE.

Part III explains the impacts on travel mode choice from urban design, temporal components, and individual components such as attitude, preferences, costs, and the duration of the trip. To demonstrate the power of time, Part III also explains the inelasticity of travel time, the relationship between primary and substitute goods, and how different transportation modes have different values of quality. Part IV proposes changes to make public transit a “close substitute” for the personal automobile and describes savings these policies can bring. Part V demonstrates the viability of these policies by discussing several cities with similar policies. The Conclusion calls the California legislature to act by making funding changes. In order to make significant reductions in GHGE from the transportation industry, as set out in the Global Warming Solutions Act and in the Sustainable Communities Act, the legislature must make meaningful funding changes that significantly reduce automobile infrastructure while making other modes of travel more viable options.