How hard the benefit cut would hit transit riders depends on the pre-tax amount individuals deduct from their paychecks to pay for commuter benefits, which are typically delivered as paper vouchers, credits for use in an online ticket store or automated electronic deposits. But the change would cost many commuters $500 a year in additional taxes, said Carli Paine of TransForm, a Bay Area transit advocacy group.
GreenTRIP is beginning to gain traction among housing developers. It started out with the five-project pilot and just ended its first application period on Nov. 15.
Program director Ann Cheng said she expects the program to certify at least 10 projects in the next year. GreenTRIP is sponsored by TransForm, a Bay Area group that advocates public transportation and walkable communities.
The program gives developers points for adding features such as providing discounted transit passes, car sharing on premises and proximity to public transportation and bike lanes. Developers are also encouraged to separate the cost of parking from the cost per unit and to limit parking spaces.
The idea is to encourage residents to drive as little as possible and make it easy to not drive. Another goal is to help developers design their projects and secure entitlements.
But the passage of Proposition 26, which requires a two-thirds majority vote to impose new fees in California, remains unclear. It is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, meaning the $10 vehicle registration fee approved in Santa Clara and four other Bay Area counties for street repairs may be invalidated.
"Confusion is the word of the day on Prop. 26," said Graham Brownstein, state policy director for the transit advocacy group TransForm. "I have a law degree and I have no answer. It's very likely a question that has to be answered by the courts."
To say that Oakland's TransForm is miffed about the passage of Proposition 26 doesn't do its disappointment justice. The non-profit advocacy group's efforts to develop public transportation, walking, and bicycling infrastructure took a potentially huge hit last week when the statewide proposition passed by 5.8 percent. Prop 26 redefines standard regulatory fees, many of which benefit transit projects, as taxes that require a two-thirds vote in the legislature or local elections. That much is clear. But what isn't so clear, and what would make the outcome even bleaker for TransForm, is if vehicle license fees that passed on Election Day in five Bay Area counties — including Alameda's Measure F — could be considered subject to Prop 26's new rules. It's a question that, even a week after the election, no one seems to know the answer to.
Most green certification programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rankings look at a building’s systems and materials while GreenTRIP focuses just on transportation.
“We provide a one-page scorecard that shows whether the developer is doing much more to ensure transportation for the life of a project,” said Ann Cheng, director of the program based in Oakland.
GreenTRIP is sponsored by TransForm, a Bay Area group that advocates public transportation and walkable communities.
TransForm, a nonprofit organization in Oakland working to expand public transportation and walkable communities, is offering help to developers who want to build multihousing projects in inner cities.
"Neighbors’ biggest fears are about traffic, which is legitimate, but we’re trying to show what will actually happen rather than their worst-case scenario," [Program Director Ann] Cheng said.
Developers have until Nov. 15 to apply for GreenTRIP certification from TransForm at www.greentrip.org.
“What people really care about, and what decision makers should care about, is how much time we’re spending in our cars,” Carli Paine, TransForm’s transportation program director said in a news release. “Well designed urban areas save commuters tremendous amounts of time...”
SB 375 (Steinberg) was passed in 2008 under the rubric of climate protection. But there is a new, rather staggering realization: SB 375 may provide the critical boost our taxpayers, cities and regions need to grow their economies and reap savings from more vibrant and efficient communities.
That's because SB 375 focuses on efficiency; it will make it easier for people to drive less by spurring convenient communities, shorter commutes, and more transportation choices....
TransForm found that the better the public transportation access and more walkable the community, the less is spent on transportation.
BART would be better off building a dedicated bus lane from the BART station to the airport and use the savings to support other regional transit agencies like AC Transit, said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, a local transit advocacy group.
"This (project) fails the laugh test," he said after Wednesday's vote. "This is a connector that we will be laughing or crying at - depending on your perspective - when it is built."
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission will vote Wednesday on funding for an elevated rail extension from the Coliseum BART station to the Oakland Airport. Some transit advocates say the price tag is too high, and have proposed an alternative. We discuss the merits of the various proposals.
- James Fang, president of the board of BART
- John Knox White, program director for TransForm
- Michael Cabanatuan, transportation writer for The San Francisco Chronicle
Stuart Cohen, TransForm's executive director, said his group commissioned the $100,000 study because BART refused to study the bus rapid transit as an option even as the rail project costs escalated and its projected ridership dropped over the last decade.
"Now we have the numbers and facts to look at, and it shows the people mover doesn't stand up to scrutiny," Cohen said. "Building the tram is like shredding $500 million."
BART studied a bus option, then called the Quality Bus, in 2002, and determined that problems with reliability and traffic impact made it a poor choice. Since that time, though, rapid bus design and technology have improved significantly, says TransForm’s program director John Knox White.
“With an exclusive lane proposal like RapidBART you could do many different things,” he says. “You could have multiple bus lines use it. You could have an express bus to the airport and have locals that stop every quarter mile if you wanted to.”
Carli Paine, transportation director at TransForm, a nonprofit that advocates for public transit, said that money coming from state and local sales tax measures have dwindled and hurt AC Transit.
"We're at this point because were in this perfect storm of funding decimation from multiple sources," said Paine.
Robust public transportation options can yield significant savings for households, local governments, and the environment. However, the lack of stable funding for public transit threatens the long-term viability of transportation systems that offer alternatives to dependence on automobiles. This article looks at some possibilities for policy reform that can re-balance transportation priorities and spending to better support the development of walkable neighborhoods near high quality transit.