“Any kind of incentive policy for car ownership or use is incredibly outdated for the air district to have, even if it’s an electric vehicle,” said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, a regional transit advocacy organization.
Although district employees might be driving low-emission cars, they will be contributing to particulate matter kicked up by road dust, along with adding to congestion on the region’s already-strained highways, Cohen said.
“In just four years, 62 percent more seniors in the San Francisco metro area will live with poor transit compared to 2000, versus 56 percent more for Oakland metro area and 66 percent more for San Jose metro area,” notes a press release from TransForm , an Oakland-based non-profit advocating for transit and smart growth.
"We have a serious problem that would get much worse in providing transportation access to seniors," said Stuart Cohen, a Bay Area spokesman for the coalition. He is executive director of TransForm, an Oakland-based transit advocacy group.
The East Bay BRT would improve transit reliability along International, as well as install bulb-outs, crossing signals, and lighting to make International a less dangerously designed street.
“I’m confident that the types of pedestrian improvements that parents and seniors are calling for are attainable in this BRT project,” said Joél Ramos, TransForm community planner and newly confirmed SFMTA Director. “This project would make the streets safer for everyone, whether you ride transit or not.”
After an introduction from CPEHN’s Ruben Cantu, speakers got underway with a presentation from TransForm‘s Stuart Cohen. TransForm is the kind of San Francisco Bay Area group that Los Angeles’ livability advocates should be jealous of - and should emulate. TransForm advocates for transit, walking, biking – focusing from local to regional to statewide. Cohen outlined trasportation/health connections, including somewhat familiar statistics: rising rates of obesity nationwide, declining rates of walking and biking to school. And some not as familiar: inadequate transit as a healthcare access issue (folks miss their clinic appointments when it’s difficult to walk or take transit to get there – more info here.)
Cohen expressed optimism over current initiatives from the Great Communities Collaborative to SB375 (CA’s greenhouse gas legislation), but stressed that strong coalitions, centered on health and equity, will be critical to success. Cohen also stressed that respected health professionals can be key in selling livability: when an environmentalist testifies about greenhouse gases, it’s generally not as effective as when a physician or nurse testifies about childhood obesity...
The walking school bus is an initiative by TransForm, a non-profit group that promotes public transit and walkable communities in Alameda County. TransForm organizes walking school buses to increase kids’ physical activity while decreasing parents' reliance on cars to ferry them back and forth to school.
The bus stops at the busy intersection, waiting for a green light
“One reason we promote the walking school bus is the obesity epidemic,” said Transform's Rachel Davidman. “By no means are we claiming that walking to and from school will cure that, but it’s another opportunity for kids to be physical, to get going and get a healthy start to the day. Also when we talk about emissions reductions, it has an impact on asthma. Look at traffic congestion around school zones.”
One in five Bay Area bridges is marked by the federal government as high-priority for monitoring and repair, according to a report released today by a national transportation organization....
"We've got to put more money into maintenance now or in the future it's really going to bite us," said Stuart Cohen.
Graham Brownstein, state policy director with TransForm, which works for world-class public transit and walkable communities in California, said the biggest barrier to funding local transportation systems is "an archaic and entirely car-oriented, new road-oriented funding system."
In a telephone interview, he noted that for nearly a century, the federal government has been subsidizing a road-based infrastructure that benefits the auto and oil industries, and to some extent, the rubber and cement industries.
The biggest challenge, he said, will be to reform the funding formulas so that instead of over 80 percent going to roads, funds are invested in other systems people need.
"We are not talking about fighting over existing sources of revenue," Brownstein said. "We've got to have a bigger pie." Among possibilities: fuel taxes or fees, phased in to soften the impact.
In addition, he said, communities and regions need more flexibility to find local resources. Among these could be air quality or carbon fees, or using part of property tax increases that occur when an area is served by efficient public transit.
Despite severe cuts to many other programs, Governor Jerry Brown's proposed budget has no cuts to transit funding. Brownstein called the governor "very supportive" of public transit.
Local governments in the Bay Area have begun a coordinated regional effort to shift toward more sustainable urban planning mandated by the state's landmark anti-sprawl bill , SB 375, which set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and called for better integration of land use and transportation planning.
"This initial scenario is a good start, but we also need to do more to reach our goals," said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, the transit and smart-growth advocacy group.... "We want to see the most successful strategies replicated at a regional scale. Critically, we need to do much more with innovate demand management and pricing incentives to help reach the targets," said Cohen.
Bay Area transit agencies spend significantly more in administrative costs than their peers across the nation, expenditures that knowledgeable observers believe could be slashed by merging some functions of the region’s 28 different operators....
While talks of consolidation often bring up concerns of job layoffs, [TransForm's Executive Director, Stuart] Cohen said that with local transit agencies facing massive budget deficits, the alternative could be worse.
"Doing nothing will result in layoffs," Cohen said. "Doing nothing is no longer an option."
Safe Routes to School was implemented in Alameda County in 2006 by TransForm, a Bay Area public transportation and walkable communities advocacy group. The organization has since worked with more than 60 elementary and middle schools.
But that actually meant that in Pittsburg, the prevailing sentiment was that there was enough affordable housing. “We knew it was going to be a fairly heavy lift there, because it’s very much not an urban place,” says Jeff Hobson, deputy director of TransForm, an transportation advocacy organization whose Great Communities Collaborative, which includes Greenbelt Alliance, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Reconnecting America, Urban Habitat, East Bay Community Foundation, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation, aims to get residents and organizations involved in the station-area planning processes around the Bay Area with the goal of making sure they encourage “vibrant neighborhoods with affordable housing, shops, jobs, and services within convenient walking distance near transit.”
Residents along the Caltrain corridor use on average 42 percent less greenhouse gas emissions because they own, on average, 0.7 fewer vehicles, according to Stuart Cohen, executive director of transportation advocacy group TransForm. Residents on the Peninsula also spent $550 less on transportation each year, he explained.
On Saturday, concerned parents from Alameda County who ride, roll, or walk with their kids to school met to talk about how to transport them safely. “We’re empowering parents to find alternative ways for getting their kids to and from school,” said Nora Cody, the Safe Routes to Schools director for Alameda County. Safe Routes to Schools is a national organization that works with the help of law enforcement agencies to raise awareness of traffic issues and encourage physical fitness and safety in school communities.
Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, a Bay Area public-transportation advocacy group, suggested turning a lane on Highway 101 into a high-occupancy/toll lane and creating a low-cost GO Pass program for new residential buildings.