Hello Hocking County, I am a native of Logan, and currently a student at the Ohio State University studying Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability.
I am writing to spread and bring awareness to a concern I have about how Columbus is planning to spend a $40 million Smart City Grant from the US Department of Transportation to make Columbus a more sustainable and prosperous city.
The plans mostly involve investments in electric and autonomous vehicles, the amenities they require such as charging stations, and other technologies of improved efficiency. While electric vehicles may help some individuals cut down on their personal contribution to carbon emissions, most residents of Columbus cannot afford to purchase an electric vehicle, or even use ride-share on a regular basis. It’s just too expensive for most people who don't live in Bexley or Upper Arlington.
The plan will likely result in many electric ride-share vehicles left unused on the streets of Columbus. Although the conversation around Smart City Columbus also seems to have concern for communities notoriously struggling with high infant mortality rates, I have yet to see a concrete plan that would benefit these lower income areas of the city.
If Columbus wants to see real improvements in its human and environmental health, we should first and foremost be looking to make much needed and overdue improvements to the COTA bus system, such as increasing the number of busses and routes across the city, especially in areas of low income.