March 1, 2012

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

People are always complaining about the cost of living in the Bay Area, especially in the more urban areas. Without a doubt, home prices and rents are very high.

But as the latest Housing + Transportation Affordability Index shows and the Chronicle just reported on, you have to look at the cost of housing plus transportation expenses to determine how pricey a place is. And when you do, many distant suburbs are equal if not more expensive due to how much you have to drive.

Our 2009 report showed that Bay Area households with the best public transportation spend 39% less on transportation costs than other households – a savings of more than $5,000 per year – while emitting 42% less greenhouse gases!

So when it comes to tackling the high cost of living, we need homes all families can afford and more options for walking, biking, and public transportation. 

Now onto the rest of the e-news:

  • A special evening March 28 with the renowned Dr. Manuel Pastor
  • U.S. House backs off of their anti-transit transportation bill, plus full commuter benefits added to Senate’s version
  • Victory in holding transportation projects to a higher standard
  • We want streets to be designed for all users, not just cars
  • Spread the word: TransForm is hiring
  • Join us in Sacramento in the name of transportation choices May 1 and 2
  • Sonoma-Marin train breaks ground!
  • Think healthy people and transportation choices go together?
  • BART offers safeguards for connecting to Livermore
  • Let’s revolutionize bus service in the East Bay and Silicon Valley
  • Speak out for a transit-friendly Berkeley on March 6
  • The Bikemobile comes to life thanks to transportation climate funding
  • Give BART your thoughts on fare increases and more

A special evening March 28 with the renowned Dr. Manuel Pastor

Don’t miss who our executive director describes as “one of the funniest, smartest, most inspiring speakers on our issues I’ve ever heard.”  Dr. Manuel Pastor, a professor at USC, is one of the leading minds on regional planning, sustainability, and equity. He will headline our special evening of learning, networking, and celebrating the start of TransForm’s 15th year. RSVP now and enjoy the early bird $20 price (current TransForm supporters at the $40+ level attend free). Includes complimentary drinks and light appetizers.

U.S. House backs off of their anti-transit transportation bill, plus full commuter benefits added to Senate’s version

A big thanks to many of you for calling Congress outraged over the House’s version of the federal transportation bill, also known as the "worst transportation bill ever." Thankfully, pretty much everyone hates the bill which would eliminate dedicated funding for public transportation, walking, and biking, plus take other giant steps backwards in federal transportation policy. 

The trouble is, if the House doesn't come up with a more reasonable bill by the end of the month, Congress will have to once again extend the current federal transportation bill to prevent a national shutdown of funding for roads, rails, and other key transportation projects. Senator Coburn swore this fall he’d block an extension unless dedicated bike and pedestrian funding is killed!

We're working with Transportation For America to influence this fast-moving debate so stay tuned and we'll let you know how you can help. Also, we’re happy to share that the Senate’s forward-looking version of the transportation bill would now restore – and make permanent – tax benefits for public transportation commuters equal to those of car drivers.

Victory in holding transportation projects to a higher standard

Next month, the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) will release their recommendation for over $70 billion of transportation projects as part of the Regional Transportation Plan. What’s great is that in developing this list of projects, MTC has been first analyzing potential projects based on costs and benefits (including health, equity, economic and environmental). TransForm has strongly advocated for this approach and while it still has its weaknesses, it is truly groundbreaking for these decisions to be based on performance instead of politics. 

We’re pleased to share that last week, in a close and hotly debated vote, MTC Commissioners rejected attempts to protect low performing projects. Read more on our blog, plus the projects we think shouldn’t get funded and the weaknesses of the analysis.

We want streets to be designed for all users, not just cars

A new report shows that California is leading the nation when it comes to "complete streets" policies that require roads to be safe for all users - whether they're walking, biking, riding the bus, or driving a car. Happily, there's a bill that could establish a national Complete Streets policy sponsored by Sacramento Congresswoman Doris Matsui. Ask your representatives to sponsor the Safe and Complete Streets Act so that roads are safe for everyone!

Spread the word: TransForm is hiring

We’re looking for a highly organized, friendly administrative assistant for our Oakland office. Interested or know someone who might be? Read and share the job posting.

Join us in Sacramento in the name of transportation choices May 1 and 2

TransForm is hosting the first ever California-wide Transportation Choices Summit and Advocacy Day on May 1 and 2 – and we want you to be part of it!  Hundreds of people and organizations will unite in pushing our state legislators to invest in a California with real transportation choices: safe, abundant options for walking, biking, and public transportation. Learn more and sign up now to join us (sliding scale registration and travel scholarships available). 

Sonoma-Marin train breaks ground!

Last week the North Bay witnessed a huge moment for better transportation choices: the groundbreaking of the Sonoma-Marin train and accompanying bike/ped pathway. It wasn’t quite your traditional groundbreaking… activists, politicians, and SMART leaders dug shovels into a mound of sand. No matter, we’re thrilled to see this project we’ve supported for more than a decade come to life! One of TransForm’s Board members was there for the big moment. Check out Rick’s photos and the news coverage.

Think healthy people and transportation choices go together?

TransForm and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership just launched a powerful new collaboration of advocates like you, health professionals, and planning experts. The goal is to shape big, pivotal transportation decisions in the Bay Area so they yield healthy outcomes for all. Our next, free call-in meeting will be March 21 at 10 a.m. Sign up now to get the call-in info for March 21 and onto the email list (even if you can't attend the March 21 meeting).

BART offers safeguards for connecting to Livermore

We have major concerns about the cost of the proposed ‘BART to Livermore’ project because BART has a staggering $7 billion shortfall just to maintain the current system. But  the BART Board of Directors took a very positive step earlier this month when they passed a motion that will ensure a wide range of alternatives for BART to Livermore are considered and that the project won't compete with funds for BART’s core service.

This starts to address some of the concerns we had when partial funding for the Livermore project was included in Alameda County’s proposed transportation sales tax increase, Measure B3. Read more on our blog post about the decision and email your BART Board member to save BART. Contact Manolo with questions.

Let’s revolutionize bus service in the East Bay and Silicon Valley

Bus Rapid Transit is revolutionizing bus service around the world by mimicking light rail with features like bus-only lanes, state-of-the-art buses with level, all-door boarding, and traffic signal priority.

After years of advocacy, final decisions to start construction of Bus Rapid Transit between San Leandro, Oakland and Berkeley are happening. Now is when we must show decisions-makers that we really want this! There are public meetings in Oakland on March 5, 7, and 12, plus a meeting in San Leandro tonight. Get more details on the meetings, read what this project means for the Bay Area, and if you can’t make a meeting, email your official public comment in support of the final Bus Rapid Transit plan by March 19.

Critical decisions on how to move forward with Bus Rapid Transit in San Jose along El Camino Real are also taking place in six cities across Santa Clara County. Unfortunately, some opposition to creating bus-only lanes is cropping up. 

Now is the time to push for the best possible project. Send an email to Silicon Valley leaders now to support a plan for El Camino Real that truly meets the needs of transit riders, bikes, and pedestrians. You can also join us, Greenbelt Alliance and others in a discussion about the future of El Camino Real on Monday evening and like our new Facebook page.

Speak out for a transit-friendly Berkeley on March 6

Berkeley has worked on a new plan for its downtown area for a long time… and now the question is whether it will be adopted. We strongly support the plan, which will yield a lot more transit-oriented living by putting more housing in the heart of the downtown within walking distance of transit, shops, and more. Please speak out in support at the March 6 City Council meeting or email the City Council now. Get the details at Livable Berkeley’s website.

The Bikemobile comes to life thanks to transportation climate funding

Did you know that many students don’t ride their bikes simply because their bikes are not functional, often due to minor problems such as flat tires and worn out brakes? Enter the Bikemobile! 

Run by Cycles of Change, this roving bike repair operation will visit schools and recreation centers throughout Alameda County over the next two years to fix flat tires, adjust brakes and gears, and replace broken parts. The project is part of the Safe Routes to Schools program TransForm leads and is funded through the Bay Area’s Climate Initiatives Program and the Alameda County Transportation Commission. Learn more or sign up for a visit now.

Give BART your thoughts on fare increases and more

BART is seeking public input in a series of public hearings in March about three issues: a planned fare increase, Clipper Card distribution for seniors and youth, and BART’s draft environmental justice policy. Help BART better serve all of us in the future. Attend a meeting or provide feedback by reviewing some information then taking an online survey.