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.
“There’s no money available for expansion of funding but the good news is there are no proposed cuts,” said Graham Brownstein, the statewide policy director for the transit non-profit TransForm. ” He credited Brown with making sure that 75 percent of the diesel fuel tax goes to transit, instead of 50 percent.
Brownstein said he’s not counting on any major reforms for transportation or transit this year, considering the grim budget scenario, but he sees the situation improving in the next three years.
“Lots and lots of advocates in the Capitol are running around plotting major policy efforts but most of those folks are kidding themselves,” said Brownstein. “There is no appetite for that this year and to the extent that kind of stuff takes people’s time and energy away from the core concerns it could be detrimental to our interests. It’s really important that folks be very realistic about the limited options this year.”
How hard the benefit cut would hit transit riders depends on the pre-tax amount individuals deduct from their paychecks to pay for commuter benefits, which are typically delivered as paper vouchers, credits for use in an online ticket store or automated electronic deposits. But the change would cost many commuters $500 a year in additional taxes, said Carli Paine of TransForm, a Bay Area transit advocacy group.
GreenTRIP is beginning to gain traction among housing developers. It started out with the five-project pilot and just ended its first application period on Nov. 15.
Program director Ann Cheng said she expects the program to certify at least 10 projects in the next year. GreenTRIP is sponsored by TransForm, a Bay Area group that advocates public transportation and walkable communities.
The program gives developers points for adding features such as providing discounted transit passes, car sharing on premises and proximity to public transportation and bike lanes. Developers are also encouraged to separate the cost of parking from the cost per unit and to limit parking spaces.
The idea is to encourage residents to drive as little as possible and make it easy to not drive. Another goal is to help developers design their projects and secure entitlements.
But the passage of Proposition 26, which requires a two-thirds majority vote to impose new fees in California, remains unclear. It is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, meaning the $10 vehicle registration fee approved in Santa Clara and four other Bay Area counties for street repairs may be invalidated.
"Confusion is the word of the day on Prop. 26," said Graham Brownstein, state policy director for the transit advocacy group TransForm. "I have a law degree and I have no answer. It's very likely a question that has to be answered by the courts."
To say that Oakland's TransForm is miffed about the passage of Proposition 26 doesn't do its disappointment justice. The non-profit advocacy group's efforts to develop public transportation, walking, and bicycling infrastructure took a potentially huge hit last week when the statewide proposition passed by 5.8 percent. Prop 26 redefines standard regulatory fees, many of which benefit transit projects, as taxes that require a two-thirds vote in the legislature or local elections. That much is clear. But what isn't so clear, and what would make the outcome even bleaker for TransForm, is if vehicle license fees that passed on Election Day in five Bay Area counties — including Alameda's Measure F — could be considered subject to Prop 26's new rules. It's a question that, even a week after the election, no one seems to know the answer to.
Most green certification programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rankings look at a building’s systems and materials while GreenTRIP focuses just on transportation.
“We provide a one-page scorecard that shows whether the developer is doing much more to ensure transportation for the life of a project,” said Ann Cheng, director of the program based in Oakland.
GreenTRIP is sponsored by TransForm, a Bay Area group that advocates public transportation and walkable communities.
TransForm, a nonprofit organization in Oakland working to expand public transportation and walkable communities, is offering help to developers who want to build multihousing projects in inner cities.
"Neighbors’ biggest fears are about traffic, which is legitimate, but we’re trying to show what will actually happen rather than their worst-case scenario," [Program Director Ann] Cheng said.
Developers have until Nov. 15 to apply for GreenTRIP certification from TransForm at www.greentrip.org.
“What people really care about, and what decision makers should care about, is how much time we’re spending in our cars,” Carli Paine, TransForm’s transportation program director said in a news release. “Well designed urban areas save commuters tremendous amounts of time...”
SB 375 (Steinberg) was passed in 2008 under the rubric of climate protection. But there is a new, rather staggering realization: SB 375 may provide the critical boost our taxpayers, cities and regions need to grow their economies and reap savings from more vibrant and efficient communities.
That's because SB 375 focuses on efficiency; it will make it easier for people to drive less by spurring convenient communities, shorter commutes, and more transportation choices....
TransForm found that the better the public transportation access and more walkable the community, the less is spent on transportation.
BART would be better off building a dedicated bus lane from the BART station to the airport and use the savings to support other regional transit agencies like AC Transit, said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, a local transit advocacy group.
"This (project) fails the laugh test," he said after Wednesday's vote. "This is a connector that we will be laughing or crying at - depending on your perspective - when it is built."