“Bike share has traditionally been white, male and college-educated dominated,” said Stuart Cohen, executive director of the transit advocacy group TransForm, at the launch event. “And with the inequality gap we have here in the Bay Area, that would just widen it and would be the wrong way to go.
“We know that without outreach, the demographics of bike-share ends up being white, affluent, male professionals,” says Clarrissa Cabansagan, TransForm’s senior community planner. “In this era of immense gentrification and displacement, where families are struggling to survive in the Bay Area, we really ought to think about equity. … We want [the ridership] to look like the diverse communities that live in the Bay Area, that live in Oakland."
In a draft of a report that is scheduled for release Monday, the transportation advocacy nonprofit TransForm, acknowledged that Motivate made some strides by providing a low-income discount, enabling users to pay for the system with cash, and extending the system along International Boulevard to Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, one of the city’s lower-income neighborhoods.
A new affordable housing project called Quetzal Gardens could bring 71 affordable apartments to 1695 Alum Rock Avenue in East San Jose. The six-story complex includes 12,175 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
Joël Ramos, regional planning director for Oakland transportation nonprofit TransForm, said after the vote that the resolution was “wonderful." “Granted, we’ll all need to work on finding a permanent solution, but at least kids can still get to school,” Ramos said.
Jennifer West, senior program manager at GreenTRIP, which advocates for environmentally friendly development and is a project of the group TransForm, noted that if Rockridge were to upzone, it could relieve parking concerns by encouraging developments to have a mix of market-rate and affordable units. Research has shown, she said, that low-income residents are more likely to take transit than high-income residents and that low-income residents are less likely to drive than high-income residents. “There is a benefit to the neighborhood to build affordable units,” she said.
“This is an absolutely pivotal time for public transit,” said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, a transportation and land use group. “Ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft are absolutely changing travel in urban areas. We are at an inflection point and unless we make some changes, and fast, I predict we’ll likely see bus ridership decline at a faster clip.”
Joshua Stark of TransForm, testifying for the bill, pointed out another benefit: transit services that are improved or increased because more youth are riding would be available for everyone, further benefiting the entire community.
The concern is that not only could driverless technology be disruptive, it could also exacerbate or generate disparities within cities. “All new technologies, when distributed rapidly, create new inequities,” note a policy brief from the University of California, Davis’ Institute of Transportation Studies on the topic. Prepared by Stuart Cohen, executive director of the transit advocacy group TransForm, and Sahar Shiraz, from the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, the brief argues that new policies or projects relating to new vehicle technologies should be evaluated for how it impacts low-income households using four criteria: cost, access, public health and employment.
From Joshua Stark, from transit advocacy group TransForm: "SB 1 will do some great things for California and our transportation system, and it breaks my heart that we couldn’t support it. We like that it sends a fair share of the money raised towards public transportation and safe walking and biking, but it also includes an unacceptable loophole to allow big trucks to keep polluting vulnerable communities. We couldn’t support a deal that sacrifices public health for public transportation — California needs both."
Another potential voice of opposition came from progressive transportation advocacy group TransForm. Joshua Stark, the group’s state policy director, said he was troubled by reports that the final bill will exempt trucks from clean-air regulations passed by the California Air Resources Board.
Some environmentalists objected to a provision inserted in the proposal that exempts the trucking industry from some air pollution regulations. “It throws disadvantaged communities under the bus,” said Joshua Stark, a director for the transportation policy group TransForm. “We can’t support a deal that sacrifices public health for public transportation — California needs both."
But several Bay Area transportation officials said it’s unclear whether the administration will fund public transit projects of any kind. Stuart Cohen, the executive director of TransForm, a transportation advocacy nonprofit, said he was immediately struck by the apparent hypocrisy in the proposed budget.
“This is the perfect project if you care about infrastructure, if you care about jobs and if you care about focusing on areas that are going to deliver long-term economic benefit,” said Stuart Cohen, the executive director of TransForm, a nonprofit group that advocates public transportation.
“We already can assume a mega-project will have a negative impact on certain communities,” said Clarrissa Cabansagan of the transportation policy group TransForm. She pointed to even more recent projects, like the Oakland Airport Connector, as an example of a poorly planned and executed transit expansion. “Let’s make sure we don’t make the same mistakes of the OAC that just flew past East Oakland,” Cabansagan said.