October 3, 2011

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

The Governor still has a week to sign or veto legislation, but we’re already celebrating victories and licking our wounds from some of his decisions. 

We are thrilled that he signed two bills we worked hard to pass. AB 147 will allow many more cities and counties to use the transportation fees they get from new development projects for things like bike lanes, sidewalks, and bus stops instead of just widening roads. AB 516, sponsored by PolicyLink, will help ensure low-income communities are able to bring Safe Routes to Schools programs to their schools.

Sadly, the Governor vetoed AB 650, which would have established a statewide task force to conduct a much-needed assessment of and plan for public transportation. He also vetoed SB 582, which would have brought commuter benefits to many more Californians. 

These vetoes are even more reason we are building a powerful, statewide movement as part of our new Invest in Transit campaign. Sign the Invest in Transit petition and read more about the bills that passed, were vetoed, or will be on deck in the next legislative year.

Onto the rest of the news:

  • Federal funding for smart growth saved in the Senate
  • Transportation dollars should focus on running trains and buses in Alameda County
  • Learn about and shape long-term solutions for Caltrain
  • Federal bike/ped funding safe, but only temporarily
  • Bay Area express lanes: We need public process and a plan that reduces driving
  • We TransFormed a parking place into a park
  • Thousands will be asked to “think outside the car”
  • Volunteer with Walk and Roll to School Day this week!
  • October 22 TransForum: see how Bus Rapid Transit can transform public transportation
  • October 24 conference in San Francisco will feature great minds in transportation and land use
  • California Bike Summit November 5-7 in L.A.
  • New Partners for Smart Growth Conference February 2-4 in San Diego

Federal funding for smart growth saved in the Senate

Two years ago, a dream came true when the nation’s housing, transportation, and environmental agencies formally united under the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Finally, housing, transportation, and sustainability are planned for together, like they should be! Plans, policies, and funding are now coordinated and leveraged to bring good public transportation and affordable housing to more places – in cost-effective, community-supported ways. But the U.S. House voted to eliminate all funding for the Partnership. After a surge of last-minute calls, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to preserve funds for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. At least two votes remain before this funding is truly safe, but we’re encouraged to see support for smart growth gaining momentum.

Shape how billions of transportation dollars are spent in Alameda County

In 2012, Alameda County will likely vote on a ballot measure that would raise billions for transportation. The County’s transportation officials may decide this week on a formula for how this money would be spent! We want to be sure as much funding as possible is kept flexible so it can go towards the County’s most urgent needs and biggest opportunities: fixing and improving public transportation, local streets, and bike/ped infrastructure – and getting innovative programs and projects on the ground that will revolutionize transportation. Join TransForm in speaking out for flexible funding (not 40% for earmarks) at an important public meeting this October 7 at noon in Oakland. Contact Joél for talking points if you can come or to get involved with this campaign.

Learn about and shape long-term solutions for Caltrain

After a huge outcry, a solution was patched together to keep Caltrain running with all 86 trains and no station closures for this fiscal year. The real challenge now, which TransForm is helping tackle, is finding a permanent solution to Caltrain’s lack of a dedicated funding source so we don’t face the same cuts in the future. Come out on October 4 to Palo Alto City Hall.  Jessica Zenk of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group will present potential funding options, including a possible 2012 ballot measure at 8:15 a.m. Caltrain director Liz Kniss will give an official update at 9:30 a.m.

On October 21 at 8:30 a.m. at SPUR in San Francisco, learn about how Caltrain and the future high-speed rail service could be blended to save funds and what it would mean for commuters. Learn more about the challenges and opportunities for Caltrain, and RSVP now for the October 21 event

Federal bike/ped funding safe, but only temporarily

A six-month extension of the current federal transportation bill was recently – and thankfully – passed, preventing a potential transportation crisis. Senator Coburn of Oklahoma tried to block the extension and force cutting the majority of funds for sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and trails.  

California’s own Senator Boxer stood strong for bike/ped funding and Senator Coburn ultimately relented. But Senator Coburn did so with the understanding that bike/ped funding is up for debate when the new, longer-term federal transportation bill is passed. Plus, some Congress members have been talking about a 30% cut to public transportation funding in the bill!  Email Senator Boxer to ask her to keep defending bike/ped and transit funding as the debates escalate.

Bay Area express lanes: We need public process and a plan that reduces driving

TransForm has been working to influence the region’s plans for express lanes, which would allow solo drivers to pay to drive in carpool lanes when there's capacity. Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted to seek state authority for a $6.4 billion, 270 mile network without any time for public process. As the details are worked out over the coming year we need a real public process, including looking at alternatives that expand public transportation and vanpooling instead of just expanding lanes, plus reducing costs for low-income commuters. Learn more and to get involved, contact John.

We TransFormed a parking place into a park

TransForm celebrated PARK(ing) Day in style on September 16, turning asphalt in downtown Oakland into a temporary parklet. What a response!  We got love from almost everyone who walked by and stopped to read the paper, play checkers, or enjoy a pedal-powered smoothie from our blender bike. Thanks to Grand Lake Ace Hardware for lending us plants. Check out the photos and write your thoughts on transforming space for cars to space for people.

Thousands will be asked to “think outside the car”

TravelChoice, TransForm’s award-winning program, might be coming to your city! TravelChoice is an innovative approach to reduce how much people drive by providing personalized information on car-free options and other incentives to get people to “think outside the car” more often. Funded by the Alameda County Transportation Commission and the Transportation Fund for Clean Air, TravelChoice will launch in Fremont, Union City, Hayward, Dublin, Pleasanton, Oakland, Emeryville, and Berkeley later this fall, targeting over 10,000 households. Learn more.

Volunteer with Walk and Roll to School Day this week!

Want healthier kids, cleaner air, and less traffic during rush hour? Then give an hour of your time to inspire more kids to walk and bike safely to school as part of International Walk and Roll to School Day during the week of October 3. We need folks to help pass out prizes at 75+ schools around Alameda County where we lead Safe Routes to Schools programs. Email Nora now to volunteer in Alameda County this week.

October 22 TransForum: see how Bus Rapid Transit can transform public transportation

Bus Rapid Transit is revolutionizing bus service around the world with its dedicated lanes, state-of-the-art buses, and frequent service. Now, Bus Rapid Transit is coming to Santa Clara County! Come see what this new service will mean for local businesses, pedestrians, cyclists, bus riders, and the people who live near the future Bus Rapid Transit stops in a bus tour followed by lunch and a lively discussion. RSVP now for the Palo Alto bus tour and lunch.

October 24 conference in San Francisco will feature great minds in transportation and land use

Don’t miss a day dedicated to green transportation with presentations by some of the leaders in our movement, like world-renowned urban planner Peter Calthorpe, and Jeffrey Tumlin, a cutting-edge transportation planner. Pacific Cities Sustainability Initiative has put together an incredible day of learning, and is generously offering a special discounted rate of $75 for the day (versus $125) for friends of TransForm (that’s you!). The nonprofit/academic rate is only $30. Register now and select the member rate.

California Bike Summit November 5-7 in L.A.           

The California Bike Summit brings together bike advocates, club leaders, ride organizers and key allies to set the statewide bicycling agenda for 2012 and beyond. Early bird registration is $85 through October 5. Learn more and register

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

Save the date 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.