December 1, 2011

Your monthly pass to world-class public transportation and more wonderful, walkable communities. 

  • The federal transportation bill… on the move?
  • Fuel tax reform can boost state transit funding
  • How does San Diego’s plan to reduce emissions from transportation measure up?
  • Federal budget eliminates smart growth funding
  • Bay Area will develop regional strategy for economic growth and affordable housing
  • Alameda County’s $8 billion transportation plan could help save BART
  • Let’s bring Bus Rapid Transit to San Francisco
  • New Partners for Smart Growth Conference February 2-4 in San Diego

The federal transportation bill… on the move?

Hearings have started in the Senate on the next federal transportation bill now that the committee our own Senator Boxer oversees released its 600-page draft. We’re thrilled the bill’s finally getting some traction thanks to Boxer’s leadership – and the draft is pretty strong, though it includes a major cut to dedicated bicycle/pedestrian funding. Read a summary of the bill.

The hardest part lies ahead: crafting a final bill that the House will actually agree to. Some House Republicans want huge cuts to public transportation, plus the elimination of dedicated bike/ped infrastructure funding. And now House Republicans want to fund part of the final bill with revenues from new drilling leases, which will make debates even more heated. Email Senator Boxer now to thank her for her leadership and ask her to defend full funding for transit and dedicated bike/ped infrastructure in the bill.

Fuel tax reform can boost state transit funding

It will take a whopping $142 billion to fix and maintain public transportation over the next decade statewide according to the California Transportation Commission’s Statewide Transportation Needs Assessment. Not surprisingly, there’s nowhere near enough projected revenue to cover these critical costs.

We’re excited to tell you one of the ways we’re going to work to change this: pushing for a suite of fuel tax reforms that make sense – and cents. By indexing the gas excise tax to inflation (which has neverhappened) and finally making reforms to the vehicle license fees and the fuel sales tax, we can stop public transportation’s bleeding and start building the system California needs. Read more from our Invest in Transit campaign.

How does San Diego’s plan to reduce emissions from transportation measure up?

Thanks to SB 375, California’s major regions were assigned transportation-related emission reduction targets for 2020 and 2035. Regions must now work to meet those targets by integrating transportation, land use, and housing planning into one “Sustainable Communities Strategy.”

San Diego was recently the first region to adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy. After we blogged our initial take on it last month, we decided to dig deeper on why San Diego’s Strategy didn’t produce the greenhouse gas reductions many hoped it would – and what other regions can learn from this. Download the TransForm/ClimatePlan report to be released today at noon.

Federal budget eliminates smart growth funding

Despite a huge outcry from activists like you, funding for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ regional grant program was zeroed out in the final version of the federal budget. We are huge fans of this program, which unites the nation’s housing, transportation, and environmental agencies in order to better coordinate their plans, policies, and funding for bigger impact.

Fortunately, the Partnership itself has been allowed to continue (some House members did not want these agencies to work together, which is beyond us). We'll be working to restore funding for the Partnership’s grant program in the next budget and keep you posted. Meanwhile, learn how transportation fared in the federal budget – including the tragic lack of funds for high-speed rail.

Bay Area will develop regional strategy for economic growth and affordable housing 

Although federal funding was eliminated for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ regional grant program in 2012 (see story above), the Bay Area was awarded a $4.9 million grant within the 2011 program. With the grant, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments, along with local partners, will take on a critical and bold task for the Bay Area: develop and implement a community-based strategy that expands economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents, plus creates dramatically more housing for low-income workers.

TransForm was one of the many partners that helped prepare the grant application and we are thrilled that our cutting edge program GreenTRIP was included as a tool to enhance housing affordability. Read more about what this means for the region.

Alameda County’s $8 billion transportation plan could help save BART

Elected officials from across Alameda County are in the middle of answering a huge question. Should future potential tax revenue for transportation be used to: 1) fix BART’s leaky subway tunnels, crumbling concrete foundations, and burnt-out wiring as the neglected system ages, or 2) spend over $1 billion dollars for just 5 miles of tracks to Livermore? Another key question is how much to spend to restore bus service, invest in local streets and roads, and expand bicycle infrastructure.

All of this will culminate in a November 2012 ballot measure that would double the existing transportation sales tax and lock in the spending plan for 30 years, so the stakes are high! That’s why we hope you’ll join us in speaking out for Alameda County to: fix BART first; prevent public transportation cuts while keeping it affordable to ride; make streets safer for bicycles; and repair the potholes in our local streets and roads. There are public meetings of the Alameda County Transportation Commission coming up today, December 1, at noon (1333 Broadway, Suite 300, Oakland) and likely December 16 in Newark. Learn more andcontact Manolo if you can attend.

Let’s bring Bus Rapid Transit to San Francisco

Bus Rapid Transit is revolutionizing bus service around the world by mimicking rail with features like dedicated lanes, state-of-the-art buses, and traffic signal priority. That’s why we want to bring it to the Bay Area and have been actively involved in the South and East Bays to do just that.

San Francisco is planning for Bus Rapid Transit along the major thoroughfare of Van Ness Avenue. The draft environment impact statement/review, which describes the different alternatives for the project, is now available for public comment through December 19. Learn more and send an email urging San Francisco to make Bus Rapid Transit a reality on Van Ness ASAP.

New Partners for Smart Growth Conference February 2-4 in San Diego

Register now for the nation’s premier smart growth conference! With nearly 95 sessions, plus tours of projects in the San Diego area, there is no better place to immerse yourself in exploring solutions that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create a green economy, assure a healthy population, and expand transportation and housing options for all Americans. Learn more.