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Creating Healthy, Connected Communities

For over two decades, TransForm has shaped transportation and land use decisions for the benefit of people and the planet. From the Bay Area to Sacramento, we’ve won billions of dollars and championed innovative approaches to promote public transportation, walking, biking, and affordable homes near transit.

We’ve made important progress, but California still struggles with skyrocketing housing costs, pollution, traffic, and communities shaped by a legacy of disinvestment and racial exclusion. These problems threaten the health of our communities and our future — especially for low-income people and people of color.

With these new strategic priorities, TransForm is re-calibrating our work to tackle head-on our two greatest challenges — climate change and social inequity.

How We Work

To have the impact necessary to create change across sectors, TransForm operates at three primary levels.

We foster deep community engagement at the local level to create equitable, sustainable communities, with demonstration projects and model policies in the Bay Area.

We support integrated regional planning both in the Bay Area and, via partnerships, throughout California, to shape transportation and housing solutions that can truly work for everyone.

We build inclusive networks to impact state policy and make California a national leader on transportation and land use policies that protect our climate and advance social equity.

Dire need for integrated solutions

Transportation is a major driver of both the climate and equity crises.

The cost of living in California has never been so high, exacerbating racial and economic inequality. On average, people with the lowest incomes spend more than 30% of their income on transportation, and 70% on the combined costs of transportation and housing.1 Skyrocketing rents are hastening displacement, with cities like Oakland losing over 20% of their black families in just one decade.

It will also take dramatic action to avert a climate catastrophe, and transportation is by far the largest source of climate pollution in California.

Now more than ever, we need systemic changes in transportation and land use that simultaneously address climate change and inequality.

1. TransForm, Windfall for All. 2009. http://www.transformca.org/windfall-for-all

2. California Air Resources Board, California Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory. June 2017. https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/inventory/data/data.htm

What will success look like?

Over the next three years, TransForm will zero in on big, bold strategies to get our region and state moving again. We are launching three initiatives described below. Together, they will achieve more than the sum of their parts.

These measurable indicators will demonstrate progress towards our vision of healthy, connected communities, with a focus on benefits for low-income people, people of color, youth, seniors, and people with disabilities:

  • A reduction in transportation pollution to help clean the air and meet California’s ambitious climate goals
  • A decrease in the combined cost of housing and transportation
  • Higher rates and safety of walking and bicycling
  • Greater access to jobs via public transit and other affordable options
  • More decisions that lift up the leadership and priorities of underrepresented and impacted communities

More Homes, Less Driving

Housing costs are sky high. Traffic is miserable. These problems are connected, and we can’t solve them separately.

Unfortunately, building enough new homes near transit faces huge hurdles, including high construction costs, a dearth of available land, local opposition, outdated zoning, and urgent concerns about the displacement of existing communities. TransForm has been overcoming these barriers with pilot projects and partnerships for over a decade, and now we need to bring these solutions to scale.

We can create more affordable, vibrant, low-traffic communities.

  • Help win new funding for affordable homes near transit by demonstrating their transportation and climate benefits, including from a Bay Area “mega-measure” and state initiatives.
  • Expand GreenTRIP and empower communities to champion innovations that make homes more plentiful and affordable, and make it easy for residents to drive less.
  • Work with public agencies to design strategies to replace parking, promote affordable housing on their lots, and prevent displacement when expanding infrastructure.
  • Develop integrated affordable housing and sustainable transportation programs to fund projects that reduce traffic and climate pollution (compared to average households) by 60% or more.
  • Help win funding for at least 100,000 new affordable housing units statewide.
  • Bring down construction costs by 15% or more per unit, by replacing on-site parking with more and better transportation choices.

Disrupting Inequity

Emerging technologies are disrupting the transportation sector, creating an unprecedented opportunity to lift up those who have been left out in the past.

The shortcomings of our current transportation system fall too heavily on low-income people and communities of color, who often also suffer the worst impacts of climate pollution.

Bike sharing and car sharing, ride-hailing, and other new mobility innovations have the potential to cut travel times, reduce pollution and private vehicle ownership, and improve safety if they are accessible to those who need it most. But if not guided to focus on equity they may erode lifeline services that people depend on, particularly public transit.

We can help steer this disruption to create a transportation future that is shared, electric, and accessible.

  • Expand community engagement so people in low-income communities shape new mobility options to fit their needs and increase access to opportunity.
  • Work with agencies and decision-makers to craft policy and regulations that focus on equity and climate, without stifling innovation.
  • Partner with community organizations and new mobility companies to develop and demonstrate solutions that put new mobility, including autonomous vehicles, to work for underrepresented communities, as well as for the climate.
  • Generate at least $500 million for piloting projects that combine shared, electric, and accessible solutions.
  • Motivate five cities to adopt programs that give additional infrastructure, such as street and curb spaces, for shared, electric new mobility services.
  • Initiate at least three pilot projects that include mechanisms to promote affordability and access, such as discounts, cash-based fares, and multilingual outreach.

Transportation That Works

TransForm’s vision remains rooted in the idea that we must first make transportation work for everyone.

That means streets and sidewalks that welcome people of all ages, whether they are on foot or bicycle, in wheelchairs or strollers. It means buses and trains that are not just safe, reliable, and affordable, but inviting and world-class. We have the tools and the data to make more efficient use of transportation dollars, to stop wasting billions on highway expansions and prioritize projects that foster safety, sustainability, and equity.

We can eliminate inefficiencies in our transportation systems and devote more resources to overcoming inequity and climate pollution.

  • Lead coalitions to shape upcoming transportation funding ballot measures to prioritize transit, safe streets, and equity initiatives — including a regional discount transit fare.
  • Initiate a Mobility Action Plan for Highway 101 to demonstrate how we can move 8,000 people per hour in a single lane, and use that as the basis for a 2020 Bay Area effort to optimize the use of existing highways.
  • With statewide partners, push state leaders and agencies to define and designate transportation disadvantaged communities and prioritize equity and climate protection in transportation investments and policies.
  • Expand our award-winning Safe Routes to Schools approach to engage youth and families in other areas of opportunity, such as affordable housing developments.
  • Win at least $12 billion for sustainable, affordable transportation in the Bay Area and California, while defending the billions of dollars already secured through existing state programs.
  • Secure the passage of state legislation that prioritizes transportation funding for the most disadvantaged communities.
  • Give youth and families at over 200 sites the tools they need to adopt healthier transportation habits and reduce driving, with a focus on low-income communities.

It’s not just what we do, it’s how we do it.

TransForm firmly believes that to work for justice, we must work justly. Our commitment to equity and inclusion shines through in the deep and trusted relationships we nurture with a broad range of partners, the long tenure of many of our staff, our intersectional approach to solving big problems, and our ongoing efforts to align our internal practices with our values. Our positions and priorities have always been informed by partners in the movements for environmental, economic, and racial justice — for example, we engaged more than two dozen allies in the development of this plan.

TransForm is guided by a Social Justice Action Plan we adopted in 2017. The detailed plan includes concrete goals and milestones for every program and team, including our Board of Directors, to identify and challenge internal and external systems of privilege and injustice.

JOIN US

We didn’t get here alone, and we can’t build the future we seek without more partners and supporters than ever before. Are you with us? Help turn our strategies into success stories.

Special Thanks to the Hewlett Foundation for their essential support in developing these priorities, and to Autumn Bernstein of Estolano LeSar Advisors.

Thanks to the many partners who provided input on this plan throughout its development.

And a tremendous thank you to all the foundations, individual donors, and sponsors that make our work possible.

Graphic design by Anna Engle, web design by Abe Bingham, web development by Manish Champsee.