Key victory for reducing emissions from driving in the Bay Area

Bicyclist in SFOn May 17, we won a victory for climate emissions reductions when MTC/ABAG dedicated $226 million to the Climate Innovative Grants program as they adopted their proposed transportation investment and land use strategy for the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). This funding was a direct response to TransForm’s April 13 letter making recommendations on the SCS and numerous conversations with Commissioners in April and May.

In April and May committee meetings, MTC meeting staff presented suggest “Climate Policy Initiative” options to address the GHG gap. The vast majority of their proposed investments were for several vehicle technology and behavior change proposals (“Electric Vehicle Acceleration”, “Vehicle Buy-Back and Plug-In or Electric Vehicle Purchase Incentives”, and “Smart Driving Strategy”).

During April and May, we educated Commissioners, submitted a letter with our recommendations, engaged other stakeholders to speak up – including with their own letters – and worked with staff. We pointed out that the vehicle technology and behavioral programs do little to meet all 10 SCS performance targets; they are vehicle emissions strategies, not the transportation and land use strategies envisioned by SB 375. Electric vehicles are a critical part of the global warming solution -- but with MTC's very limited funding we should look for even greater win-win scenarios that also reduce demand for new roads and congestion (which causes more CO2 for the gas cars stuck in traffic behind the EVs). We recommended more funding for the Climate Innovative Grants program that had been initiated by the 2009 Regional Transportation Plan.

Here is a copy of MTC’s original proposed investments:

BEFORE:

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In the May 11 meeting, numerous commissioners (Green, Halsted, Campos, Bates, McKenzie, Wiener, and a couple ABAG reps) all said that there was too much dedicated to Electric Vehicles and they wanted other options. In the meeting and with calls prior to the meeting, several asked for continued funding for the Climate Innovative Grants and for more investment into Car Sharing, noting the high return for a smaller investment. MTC staff said they heard commissioners’ concerns “loud and clear” and promised to come back with new options. 

On the day of the MTC/ABAG Special Meeting on May 17, MTC staff released a new proposed Climate Policy Initiative.

When it was adopted later (much later!) that night, we had won a new $226 million commitment to Climate Innovative Grants. These innovative grants are the source for parking reform and TDMs, alternative fuel improvements beyond current law, as well as out of the box ideas such as regional bike sharing and ‘cold-in-place asphalt recycling’. See below for three slides from staff’s revised proposal (For full presentation click here).  

AFTER:

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We look forward to seeing the evaluation results of the first cycle of funding for the Climate Innovative Grants and to working with MTC to shape a next round of funding to support new innovative ideas. At the same time, there is still much more work to be done on the rest of the Sustainable Communities Strategy.

 

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TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.