February 5, 2014

TransForm E-News: February 5, 2014

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

There’s a lot at stake right now, from Congress slashing benefits for transit riders to California’s new state budget.

You know just how important this movement is: we need better public transportation, biking, and walking options, plus more vibrant, affordable communities.

That’s why we hope you’ll join us in Sacramento as part of our Transportation Choices Summit in April. Advocates like you from across the state will learn, strategize, get inspired…and then bring our message straight to legislators. If you’re in the Bay Area, we’re having a one-day event in Palo Alto this month, too, with incredible speakers.


Read on for more news and events:


Congress punishes transit riders, rewards car drivers

Would you believe in this era of climate change and traffic congestion that Congress would give twice as big of a tax break to people who drive rather than take transit to work?

That’s exactly what happened on January 1. Congress failed to extend the federal tax benefit that allows employees to deduct $245/month from their paychecks (before taxes) to apply towards public transportation costs, reducing it to just $130/month.  Meanwhile, Congress increased the tax benefit for car drivers for their parking coststo $250/month!

It’s not fair, it’s bad policy, and we won’t stand for it.

Email your Congressperson right now to support legislation so public transportation riders don’t lose out in 2014.  Read more on Streetsblog.


Don’t miss the Transportation Choices Summit and Advocacy Day on April 22-23

2014 may go down in the history books as a pivotal point for California’s approach to transportation: the year we shift from the birthplace of the car culture to prioritizing climate protection and social equity. Please join us on April 22 for the 3rd annual Transportation Choices Summit to help make this shift happen. You’ll hear from California’s most innovative leaders, learn about urgent legislation, and network with advocates from across the State.

Many summit attendees will reconvene on Wednesday April 23 for the optional Advocacy Day at the Capitol. This year we will focus on cap-and-trade and Caltrans reform. Thanks to some wonderful foundations, a limited number of travel grants are available to cover partial and full costs.

Learn more and register today!


Governor Brown’s new budget includes some good news for public transportation

When Governor Brown released his initial budget proposal last month, there were some high notes to celebrate including a plan to invest $850 million of cap-and-trade greenhouse gas auction proceeds in better public transportation, more green spaces in urban areas, and reducing vehicle travel.  However, the proposal includes no funding for transit operations and underfunds the critically-important Sustainable Communities Program, which would support affordable homes near transit, discounted transit passes for students, and more. Read more on our blog.


Join transit leaders and advocates at our Silicon Valley Summit on February 22

Join us at TransForm’s Silicon Valley Transportation Summit on February 22 and hear one of our favorite speakers, the insightful social equity leader, Dr. Manuel Pastor along with UC Berkeley Professor and sustainability pioneer Harrison Fraker. The Summit focuses on how we can bring better transportation choices and healthier communities to Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

This year’s session highlights include a panel featuring general managers of the the Valley Transportation Authority, Bay Area Rapid Transit, and Caltrain/SamTrans. Plus, take a tour of El Camino Real to envision the potential for the proposed Bus Rapid Transit project as a catalyst for the Grand Boulevard.

Learn more and register today before the event sells out. Scholarships and volunteer opportunities
 are available.


From Parking to Paradise: An Evening with Professor Donald Shoup

Join us on March 19 for an incredible night of learning and conversation with renowned urban planner Donald Shoup, UCLA professor and the leading expert on parking policy. Find out why outdated parking policies are standing in the way of making great, walkable communities and how we can rethink parking to revolutionize our cities.

Professor Shoup is author of The High Cost of Free ParkingLearn more and register for this special event here. We expect this event to sell out, so get your tickets now!


Despite a crumbling system, BART Board to talk expansion

BART riders know our regional transit system sorely needs an extreme makeover.  Tracks and stations are long overdue for replacement or investment to make sure the service will be fast, frequent, reliable, and affordable. Yet in the midst of these existing issues, BART Board of Directors are meeting this month to explore how they might eventually expand the system towards Livermore. We’re concerned that an expansion of the BART service would take money away from getting the system back into a good state of repair, so we’re proposing cost-efficient alternatives. Read more on our blog and learn how you can get involved.


Big money to fix Muni, fund Caltrain, and bring greater bike/ped safety

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recently presented his proposal for how we can fund big investments in transit, biking, and walking, which would include two ballot measures, an increase in the Vehicle License Fee, and a half-billion dollar bond.

This is great news.  The aging Muni fleet has serious reliability problems due to frequent breakdowns.  San Francisco BART stations will soon exceed capacity. Pedestrian injuries and fatalities happen too frequently.  The biking infrastructure needs to keep up with the surge in cycling.  And every year Caltrain service risks being cut due to a lack of funds.  The proposal would fund and help fix all these problems!

However, the proposal doesn’t have money to increase Muni service. Our friends at the San Francisco Transit Riders Union have a petition to urge the city to use some of the funds on service.  


Help strengthen the Caltrain service and the San Jose Diridon plan

The San Jose Diridon Station Area Plan anticipates Diridon will become a major employment and entertainment center, with about 23,000 new jobs and 2,600 new residences.

The plan is a key part of the city’s goals to cut solo car commuting in half to just 40% by 2040. Since the station would ultimately bring together Caltrain, BART, high-speed rail, Amtrak, VTA light rail, two Bus Rapid Transit lines, a local bus and shuttle service, as well as a safer bike and pedestrian network, this goal could become a reality! But the proposed station area layout includes separate areas for each “brand” of service, rather than a design that would help people quickly connect between services – and thereby make transit a more competitive choice.

The public comment period for the plan ends on February 13. Read this blog post and send your comments to the City of San Jose. 


Come up with TransForm’s new tagline and we’ll buy your dinner

TransForm is ready for a new tagline…and we’re looking for ideas! If you provide the winning idea, we’ll get you a $50 gift card at your favorite restaurant. Start brainstorming!

Learn what we’re looking for and submit your ideas here before February 17.


Webinar series connects health and transportation

If you’re interested in the intersection of public health and transportation issues in the Bay Area, you won’t want to miss the Bay Area Health in Transportation (BAHT) Collaborative’s next webinar. BAHT is a collaboration of TransForm and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. Anyone interested in these topics is welcome to join. The webinar will take place on Wednesday February 19 at 10:00 a.m. and focus on the work of Regional Asthma Management & Prevention (RAMP) and climate change efforts in the Bay Area.

To learn more about BAHT and sign up for updates on all upcoming webinars, visit our website.

Register for the February 19 webinar now.


Coming soon: TransForm’s summer internship program!

We are thrilled to announce TransForm’s first organizational internship program slated for summer 2014! Thanks to a generous grant from the Wallace A. Gerbode Foundation, we will host two college juniors, seniors or recent graduates for a paid, 10-12 week internship in our Oakland office. The internship will give students from disadvantaged communities a hands-on experience with planning and community engagement.

More details to come later this month, but please email Jo Ann if you are interested in the program.


Calendar of Events 

Below are a few of the upcoming events in February 2014. Visit TransForm’s events webpage frequently for details on transportation-related events in the Bay Area and beyond.

Evening Lecture & Discussion: Places for People & Transit

February 10, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

Wurster Hall, UC Berkeley

Evening lecture and discussion, part of the UC Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development’s Spring Event Series on Transit & Cities. Presentation by Jan Gehl of Jan Gehl and Associates, Copenhagen. First come, first served.


New Partners for Smart Growth Conference

February 13-15

Denver, Colorado

This year’s program features a dynamic mix of plenaries, breakouts, implementation workshops, coordinated networking activities, and tours of local model projects in and around the greater Denver region.


Caltrain governance in the age of electrification

February 11, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

SPUR San Francisco

How does it make sense to govern Caltrain in the age of electrification? Now is the time for riders, stakeholders, and decision-makers to meet and understand the options that might transform Peninsula Corridor rail in the coming years.


The Social, Health, and Environmental Benefits of Affordable Housing and Transportation

February 27, 12 p.m.-2 p.m.

Non-Profit Housing Association Conference Room, San Francisco

TransForm’s GreenTRIP Program Director Ann Cheng and Policy Analyst Jennifer West are moderators on this discussion.