CALTRANS Sustainable Communities Grant

Green Broadband Benefits

Caltrans Sustainable Communities Grant to SCAG
Transportation Broadband Strategies to Reduce VMT and GHG Study
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) awarded a Sustainable Communities Grant to the Southern California Association (SCAG) to study and assess the relationship between ubiquitous availability of broadband to all residents and the reduction of vehicle trips and associated vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and decreased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Each Regional Broadband Consortium (RBC) conducted outreach to stakeholders and convened focus groups to inform the study to determine the potential for broadband to reduce VMT and GHG in the SCAG Region to meet targets for GHG reduction set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Overall Observations and Conclusions

All of the activities associated with this study reveal an emerging sense of a “new normal” among stakeholders and residents that access to the Internet is essential and that Digital Equity is an imperative.  Further, all of the data collection and analysis by the Technical Consultants and Civic Leadership Partners conclude there can be tangible reduction in vehicle trips and associated decreases in VMT and GHG as a result in broadband ubiquitous deployment and universal adoption.  However, the amount of GHG decrease to help address climate change that can be derived from broadband “as a green strategy” depends on policy and practice leadership from public and private stakeholders through a focused initiative with quantified goals.   

    • There are high levels of interest, engagement, and urgency by stakeholders with an imperative to develop both regional and local broadband strategies. 
    • There is a need for a regional strategy to include and embrace local governments that are willing to work together on middle-mile and last-mile deployment and adoption.
    • All sectors in the SCAG region support a level of remote working, with a preference for hybrid and flexible work arrangements rather than a specific number of days each week.
    • The private sector identified the top strategy to reduce trip generation as “Construction of High-Speed Internet Infrastructure Throughout the Region to Connect All Locations”.  
    • The private sector’s next top-rated strategy is “Employer Tax Credits to Implement Telecommuting”.
    • Public Agencies, Service Providers, Education, and Healthcare Sectors Identified the top strategy to reduce trip generation as “Assisting Clients, Customers, Students and Patients with Securing Affordable Home Internet Service and a Computing Device”.
    • Land use planning must accommodate broadband as part of essential infrastructure and community amenities to ensure public safety and quality of life.  This will require land use planners and regulators to think about incorporating broadband into all new projects to help reduce trip generation and ensure Digital Equity.  
    • Low-income individuals, who are more likely to be frontline “essential” workers and have less opportunity to work remotely, could reduce trips and VMT with more awareness and education about how to access affordable home Internet services and sufficient digital skills proficiency to navigate the Internet to access services.
    • There is still a need for more education with both the public and private sectors to optimize vehicle trip generation.  People are just now beginning to “connect the dots” between broadband and air quality.
    • Caltrans and CARB should jointly fund additional analysis to refine the estimate of the potential for decreasing GHG emissions through reduction of trip generation because of broadband ubiquitous deployment and universal adoption.
Final Report 2022

Signed SCAG Grant Agreement

Research Literature Review

Data Collection

Stakeholder Outreach and surveys

Focus Group Interviews

Expert Advisory Committee

Meeting I – June 11, 2021 (LINK)
Meeting II – January 21, 2022 (LINK)
Meeting III – February 25, 2022 (LINK)
Final Meeting – March 18, 2022  (LINK)


Inland Empire Regional Broadband Consortium

Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast

Los Angeles Digital Equity Action League

Southern Border Broadband Consortium

 Regional Broadband Stakeholder Survey and Focus Group Materials LINK