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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.