November 2, 2011

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

When the California Transportation Commission released a Statewide Transportation Needs Assessment last week, we finally got an actual dollar amount for what it will take to fix and maintain public transportation over the next decade statewide.

It’s a shocking $142 billion, even more shocking because there's nowhere near enough projected revenue to pay for this.

You’ve heard it from us before: we need more funding for public transportation, especially since billions of voter-approved transportation dollars have been redirected for the General Fund over the past decade. Read more from our Invest in Transit campaign on how transit got so far behind and how we can catch up.

Onto the rest of the news:

  • Demand that transit commuters get the same tax benefit as car commuters
  • Help determine how $8 billion is spent on transportation in Alameda County
  • Will the Bay Area rethink some of the largest transportation projects on the books?
  • San Diego adopts California's first regional plan to reduce emissions from transportation
  • Shape requirements so federal transportation dollars are spent fairly and justly
  • Safe Routes to Schools program goes boldly into high schools

Demand that transit commuters get the same tax benefit as car commuters

In 2009, Congress more than doubled the amount employees can deduct from their paychecks, before taxes, to apply towards public transportation commuting costs. The tax benefit went from $120 to $230 per month to match the deduction car commuters get for parking.

Thanks to a huge outcry last year from people like you, the benefit was continued through 2011 and transit riders were able to save up to $1,000 each over the course of this year. The benefit is set to expire again on December 31, but there are bills moving through Congress that would continue this tax savings for public transportation riders and cyclists indefinitely!  Tell your Congress Members to pass the Commuter Benefits Equity Act which would establish permanent parity between the parking and commuter benefit.

Help determine how $8 billion is spent on transportation in Alameda County

Next November, Alameda County will likely vote on a ballot measure that would raise $8 billion for transportation. But over the next few months, the County’s transportation officials will decide how that money would be spent. We’re working to be sure the expenditure plan focuses on the most urgent needs: fixing and improving public transportation, local streets, and bike/ped infrastructure.

We need you to help speak out for these priorities. It’s not too late to take the County’s poll; we’re happy to hear that public transportation is polling very high so far! And we’d love for you to attend the Alameda County Transportation Commission's Transportation Expenditure Program Steering Committee meeting on November 17 at 12:00 p.m. in Oakland. We’re also working with allies to develop shared recommendations for the expenditure plan. Contact Joél with questions or to get involved with this campaign.

Will the Bay Area rethink some of the largest transportation projects on the books?

This Friday, staff at the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Committee will release a groundbreaking analysis. This “project performance assessment” looks at the 80 largest transportation projects being considered for inclusion in the 2013 Regional Transportation Plan. It analyzes the projects' benefit-cost ratio and how much they contribute to regional goals. But how accurate is their assessment? Will it lead us towards projects that support healthy communities and climate protection, or will it continue to justify more highway projects? Find the answers on our blog, including a new technical report TransForm released today. Let the debate begin!

San Diego adopts California's first regional plan to reduce emissions from transportation

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

Last Friday, San Diego became the first region to adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy. TransForm has been working closely with advocacy organizations down south in their efforts to win a strong Strategy. Read what’s good and bad about San Diego’s plan on TransForm’s blog.

Shape requirements so federal transportation dollars are spent fairly and justly

Join TransForm at a public meeting with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on November 14 in Berkeley. The FTA is revising and adding to their civil rights and environmental justice requirements for projects that get federal transportation funding. This is a great chance for us to make sure the requirements are strong, specific, and lead to projects that deeply involve and benefit communities of color. Get more details and register now. Contact Manolo, our Transportation Policy Director, with any questions. 

Safe Routes to Schools program goes boldly into high schools

We’re thrilled to share that the Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools program, which TransForm leads, will now launch at four high schools thanks to funding from the Bay Area’s Climate Initiatives Program. This is exciting new territory as we seek to get kids walking and biking to school (plus taking public transportation and carpooling) not just when they’re young, but into adulthood. Want to track our progress at these high schools as we get teens to “think outside the car”? Like our Safe Routes Facebook page.