April 3, 2012 e-news

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

To us, “transportation choices” mean safe, abundant, affordable, and reliable options for getting where you need to go – beyond owning and driving a car. 

And we believe all Californians deserve transportation choices. But this is too low on the priority list for most of our leaders.

We believe we can change this with your help.

Join people like you and organizations from across California on May 1 in Sacramento to the first ever statewide Transportation Choices Summit to learn, connect and strategize.

Then on May 2 bring this message to our legislators in the Capitol. Whether you come for one or both days, register now. Scholarships are available through April 6.

Read on for the rest of the news:

TransForm is hiring – spread the word!

We are hiring a Chief Operating Officer and State Campaign Organizer. Check out the posts and share them with your networks!

Caltrain electrification plan is adopted and a great step for the region

On Wednesday, the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) approved a $1.5 billion plan to electrify Caltrain, replace its rail cars, and install an advanced train-control system. Funding will come from the high-speed rail bond plus local, regional and state transportation sources.

We strongly advocated for MTC to adopt this plan. Caltrain has seen ridership increase every month for the last 18 months, reaching a high of 45,000 boardings per day. Once completed, the plan will mean Caltrain can carry up to 50% more passengers. It also means cleaner, quieter, faster trains between San Francisco and Silicon Valley plus prepares the region for high-speed rail. Read more about the plan and TransForm’s perspective, plus the Chronicle article.

Bus Rapid Transit is so close to coming to life... but we need your help April 17 and 25

Bus Rapid Transit is revolutionizing bus service around the world by mimicking rail with features like dedicated 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 in the East Bay and Silicon Valley are within sight!

AC Transit has released its final plan for the route between San Leandro, Oakland and Berkeley. We strongly support the final plan, which includes adjustments to station locations, new traffic signals, bike lanes and even some landscaped medians based on community input. However, the project has some opponents who want to protect current conditions for cars along the corridor. We need folks to come out in big numbers on April 25 at 5 p.m. to the AC Transit Board meeting where the Board will – or won’t – move this project ahead. Contact Joél if you can come.

If you live or work in Sunnyvale, learn about the proposed El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit project on April 17 at 7 p.m. at the Sunnyvale Community Center. Contact Chris for more information.

What happened at TransForm's "Quinceanera" launch with Dr. Manuel Pastor

Over 150 TransForm supporters, elected officials, and allies joined Dr. Manuel Pastor in San Francisco last week to launch TransForm's 15th anniversary year. A fun "Quinceanera" theme recognized how TransForm is coming of age... and making an impact throughout the Bay Area and beyond! Fueled by tamales and capped with a "baile" led by our Safe Routes to School staff, the TransForm community welcomed Dr. Pastor's perspectives on how we can continue to succeed in our work for regional transportation equity amidst the changing demographics of California. Our favorite suggestion: continue working on puzzles, not playing chess, to find solutions through diverse and powerful partnerships. Check out photos from the night.

How California’s cap-and-trade revenue can help public transportation

It looks likely that cap-and-trade will be implemented in California, which means most major emitters of greenhouse gases will buy and sell greenhouse gas emissions allowances. Over time the number of allowances will be reduced, thereby reducing overall emissions in the state. The program is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenue that must, by law, be used to fund activities that reduce emissions and benefit disadvantaged communities. TransForm’s State Policy Director has spent much of the last few months working with Housing California to advocate for significant investments in public transportation and affordable housing near transit. Read the joint letter.

Help restore funds for regional planning

Despite a huge outcry, funding for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ regional grant program was zeroed out in the final version of the 2012 federal budget. We are huge fans of this program, which gives regions funds to create a community-based strategy to expand economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents, plus create dramatically more housing for low-income workers. The Bay Area was awarded a $4.9 million grant within the 2011 program.

President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal would restore $100 million in funding to for these grants. Ask your Senators to support this proposal now.

Strong transportation bill clears Senate, but House remains a hurdle

By a vote of 74-22, the U.S. Senate approved Senator Boxer's strong, bipartisan transportation bill on March 14. The bill restores – and makes permanent – tax benefits for public transportation commuters equal to those of car drivers. It protects designated funds for walking and biking by maintaining local control over these funds. And it maintains guaranteed funding for the Mass Transit Account, which funds new public transportation projects. Read a summary of the bill.

The Senate did the nation a great service in overcoming partisan gridlock to avoid literal gridlock. Congress just passed another three-month extension of our expired transportation policy, but it's time for the U.S. House to get onboard with the strong Senate bill. Email your Congress member now to urge them to pass a bipartisan bill after Easter recess.

TransForm releases analysis of Alameda County transportation measure

Alameda County faces a big decision in November. Transportation officials plan to ask voters to double the existing transportation sales tax (often known as “Measure B”), extend it in perpetuity, and approve a $7.8 billion plan for the next 30 years of spending. This would be the largest transportation funding measure ever in northern California. TransForm has completed a detailed analysis of the complete expenditure plan for Measure B. Read the analysis, which will inform TransForm’s Board of Directors in taking a position on Measure B.

New development in San Jose gets the green light and GreenTRIP certification

GreenTRIP is TransForm’s cutting-edge program that certifies residential and mixed-used developments that reduce parking, create more affordable homes, plus offer incentives for new tenants to drive less and own fewer vehicles. A 122 unit mixed-use, multifamily development on the northern edge of downtown San Jose was just “GreenTRIP certified” in part because it will provide each unity with two VTA passes for the next 40 years! Learn more about the development, Vendome, and the San Jose Planning Commission’s unanimous approval.

Help shape the regional bike sharing program that’s in the works

A key piece of creating a Bay Area with exceptional transportation choices is bike sharing: a network of public bicycles from self-service bike share stations that members can check out and return to any bike share pod in the system. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s pilot program will provide 1,000 bicycles and approximately 100 bike share stations along the Caltrain corridor in San Jose, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City and San Francisco. You helped bring this program to life when you joined TransForm in advocating for a regional climate initiative grant program in 2009. Now, take the survey to share your interest and suggestions to feed into the pilot program being developed.