“TransForm has been calling for more housing near transit for over twenty years now, and we’re glad to see all the conversation this bill has inspired,” says Joshua Stark, state policy director at TransForm, a social justice-focused transportation and land use advocacy nonprofit. “This bill has the potential to really benefit people, if it can also ensure gains for affordability and the climate. For example, it could include provisions to support affordable housing and transit benefits that help reduce driving and vehicle ownership.”
Regional Planning Director Joël Ramos was quoted extensively in this article. Here is a sample:
Ramos defended RM-3, pointing out that it is asking motorists to pay for a huge amount of transit. “When you do the math and look at how much transit is being funded, it’s something for TransForm to feel good about. It would have been very difficult to fund a more aggressive measure … this was politically the best that we could get.”
He added that RM-2 funded Safe Routes to Transit and Safe Routes to School at $20 million. “Now that line item is increased to $150 million. There were some real wins.”
He also was happy about the $50 million allocated for improving the Clipper system, which he sees as a necessary step towards fully harmonizing and integrating fares on different transit agencies around the Bay Area. “If we’re going to get that, we need to get a new system. That’s the kind of technology we’re hoping to implement with that $50 million.”
Another pro-transit group supporting the measure is Transform, based in Oakland. I happened to run into their director, Stuart Cohen, last Friday. We were both at an event where BART was rolling out the first car in their new fleet.
STUART COHEN: We’re very supportive of the increase. It’s going to be funding a number of critical projects, including new BART cars. We’re celebrating the approach of these new cars today. And there’ll be $500 million to get more cars. and there’ll be lots of funding for Muni, there’ll be money for bike trails. It’s critical that we get this funding.
ELI: He also said that higher tolls would cause some people to carpool or take public transit instead, and therefore improve traffic.
COHEN: The truth is the bridges are so backed up that we have to start pricing them in a way that makes sense.
The Ford GoBike program surpassed a key milestone in late December, with more than 500,000 rides taken since launch in June 2017. In another milestone, the number of Bay Area residents who have signed up for discounted memberships has nearly tripled since September 2017, thanks to vigorous efforts to inform low-income communities about the Bike Share for All discount program...
The ongoing outreach effort for Bike Share for All has been spearheaded by local nonprofit TransForm, which partnered with the Bay Area’s three largest bike coalitions — the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Bike East Bay and Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition — and grassroots community-based organizations, with the goal of increasing awareness of Ford GoBike’s discounted memberships.
Transform’s Joshua Stark finds reason to like what’s in the budget so far, in part because it would invest more in public transportation, walking, and biking than any previous state budget.
The gas tax is expected to raise over $4.6 billion in its first year for transportation projects, with over $800 million of that directly invested in transit and active transportation projects, according to Stark:
- $330 million for the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP)
- $355 million for the State Transit Assistance Program
- $100 million for the Active Transportation Program (to a total of around $220 million)
- $36 million for commuter rail and intercity rail
“In particular,” writes Stark, “the increase to the TIRCP results in dedicated investments for equity — a first for California’s traditional transportation funding programs.”
Advocates are also hoping that e-bikes, because they make it much easier for people to ride farther and up steep hills, will bring bike share to more low-income communities that often have few transportation options, such as the Bayview, where JUMP has their warehouse. “I think it’s generally a good thing in a low density part of the city,” said Clarissa Cabansagan, Senior Community Planner for TransForm. “For exposing lower-income parts of the city to biking, it [JUMP bikes] might be a viable option.”
Though ADUs are just a small part of the housing crisis solution, some housing advocates such as Stuart Cohen are excited to see an easier path to their construction. Cohen is executive director of TransForm, a nonprofit focused on transportation, housing and sustainability issue in California. He says, “I think they fit a very important niche [in the housing market]. ADUs are naturally on the lower end of the cost spectrum, so part of solving the affordability crisis is having more ADU construction.”
Still, Cohen says it’s important to remember, “there’s no substitute for having a massive infusion of funding and construction of dedicated affordable housing. ADUs are a great complement to, not a replacement for that funding.”
City Visions discussed the impact of companies like Uber and Lyft on Bay Area traffic and transit. The rapid growth of ride-sharing has undeniably changed the patterns of traffic on our roads. Has ride-sharing decreased car ownership as promised? Does it increase traffic congestion? What is its impact on public transit use? Can our existing infrastructure support this burgeoning practice? TransForm's Joël Ramos was one of two guests on the live call-in radio show.
“You'd be cruising along, mostly stopping only at stations,” says Joël Ramos, a planning director with the transportation advocacy group Transform. He says the system will save riders around 30 percent of their travel time.
Transform’s Clarrissa Cabansagan made the point that when existing sidewalks are completely blocked off by trash and encampments, talk of safety improvements to the sidewalk seem premature (and perhaps even absurd) to the community.
Josh Stark of TransForm was very disappointed at that outcome. His advocacy group has long fought to get California leaders to commit to better public transit, rather than relegating it to status as an after thought. That is, transit gets funding after roads and cars are taken care of. In this case, electric vehicles are getting a lot of money from the GGRF—almost $200 million in total—but there is no money for transit passes.
In Tuesday in downtown Oakland, TransForm honored housing developers, cities, and transit agencies that have participated in its GreenTRIP program. The developers earned platinum-level certification under GreenTRIP, and the cities and agencies adopted some or all of the GreenTRIP policies into their planning processes.
It also aims to make the best use of existing highway lanes rather than widening roads. “…we are happy that they are proposing a way for public transit, vanpools and other high-occupancy vehicles to get out of traffic on the Dumbarton Corridor. It is the first agency study to fully recommend conversion of existing general purpose lanes to express lanes to make this happen, rather than in widening the road,” wrote Stuart Cohen, co-founder and Executive Director of TransForm, in an email to Streetsblog.
“We know that without outreach, the demographics of bike-share ends up being white, affluent, male professionals,” says Clarrissa Cabansagan, TransForm’s senior community planner. “In this era of immense gentrification and displacement, where families are struggling to survive in the Bay Area, we really ought to think about equity. … We want [the ridership] to look like the diverse communities that live in the Bay Area, that live in Oakland."