A Concept Proposal for a US Sustainable Transportation System in the 21st Century


Frans C. Verhagen, M.
Div., M.I.A., Ph.D., sustainability sociologist,

Coordinator, IITS Initiative Steering Committee

President, SAVIA Associates International (SAI);

President, and

Adjunct Associate Professor of Sustainable Aviation at , Sustainability Fellow, Green Institute, Washington, D.C.; 718-275 -3932; 917-617 6217

New York City

November 2007


  • The IITS Initiative is demand #2 in the TEN SUSTAINABLE AVIATION DEMANDS that the US citizen sustainable aviation movement has been presenting to the US Congress since spring 2007. These demands constitute a vision of a mostly activist network working towards an ecologically sustainable, equitable and accountable aviation industry
  • The IITS Initiative entails a congressional authorization of $300 billion over a period of 15 years.
  • A predecessor of IITS is the proposed Moynihan Visitors Center on Intermodalism which is a ten year effort to have the former TWA terminal (Saarinen Building) at JFK be reused as a visitors center. Most of the Visitor Center’s
    steering committee members are also members of the present IITS Steering Committee.


  • Ecological necessity to reach targets in drastic GHG reductions in the face of the climate crisis by
    • Reducing energy intensity in the transportation system where air transportation is 3-10 times more energy intensive than surface transportation
    • Integrating and optimizing air and surface modes of transportation, thus satisfying the need for sustainability in aviation, surface transportation, and in mobility in general
    • Stopping the expansion in the aviation industry based upon the finding of the incompatibility of an expanding aviation industry with the increased need to drastically reduce heat-trapping gases
    • and emphasizing qualitative growth, i.e., the incompatibility of expanding the aviation industry with the increased need to drastically reduce heat-trapping gases
  • Economic feasibility:
    • creation of many excellent planning and construction jobs for all modes of air and surface transportation over a period of 15 years, leading to the US Sustainable Transportation Master Plan that would invigorate the US economy while protecting the wellbeing of the natural environment
  • Political possibility:
    • Increased public pressure for realistic global warming legislation which will include the aviation industry
    • The 2008 election cycle lends itself for raising the IITS Initiative profile
    • Nation-wide petition drive for ISATEA (Intermodal Surface and Air Transportation Efficiency Act) authorization bill in fall of 2009 where air funding is integrated with surface funding.
  • International feasibility:
    • The EU is forcing the US to have its aviation industry included in global warming legislation while implementing its cap-and-trade system where pollution allowances will be auctioned off and not allocated free of charge
    • The countries in the Global South are imitating industrialized countries’ transportation system, particularly adopting an aviation-centered transportation system instead of relying on river, road and rail systems, thus exacerbating the climate crisis problem for all.


  • Integrating air and surface transportation systems, thus complementing Moynihan’s 1992 Intermodal Surface Transportation Act (ISTEA) and integrating AIR 21 and TEA 21, leading to integrated transportation funding and planning and the development of a US Sustainable Transportation Master Plan by 2025.
  • Centering the new system around the less energy intensive surface modes of transportation by integrating air with rail, road, river and marine transportation systems, using forward looking studies such as Perl’s Rethinking rail passenger, Monbiot’s Rethinking freight—Monbiot and others
  • Adjustment assistance to aviation industry to cope humanely with its reduced role in transportation, particularly in short-haul passenger and cargo flight; assistance in forming joint ventures with surface transportation companies, thus transitioning from a single to a more diversified financial structure.
  • An IITS inspired sustainable transportation system is being discussed and applied in the metro NY region and the Cascadia bioregion. Cf.


  • Have the US citizen sustainable aviation movement, citizens, private and public transportation organizations sign on the ISATEA petition
  • Generate publicity by both publishing domestically and internationally, by issuing press releases, by organizing regional conferences on sustainable aviation and the IITS Initiative.
  • Applying for planning grants and/or funding venture


Without vision, people perish.” Proverbs 28:19

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, do it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.” Johann Goethe