Members of a broad coalition hailing from throughout California are headed to Sacramento next week to push policymakers to save transit funding and enact sustainable transportation planning reforms.
The Oakland-based transit advocacy group TransForm has amassed about 150 advocates to descend on the capitol for its two-day Transportation Choices Summit, the first known event of its kind, where they will meet with state representatives and urge them to prioritize walking, bicycling, and transit.
TransForm State Policy Director Graham Brownstein said the action came out of the organization’s Invest in Transit campaign, launched last year to address the “very, very serious crisis” facing transit systems in California. The state has made dramatic funding cuts totaling more than $4 billion over the last decade, and TransForm recognized the immediate need for “creative policy reforms that will stabilize, and then grow transit funding in California,” said Brownstein.
The cornerstone of the campaign is a push to ensure that a major portion of the revenue from California’s nascent cap-and-trade program will be dedicated to transit operations and affordable housing projects located near transit.
The cap-and-trade revenue could go a long way toward restoring the damage done to transit funding under the Schwarzenegger administration. By selling emissions permits, Governor Jerry Brown’s administration anticipates the cap-and-trade program will generate $1 billion in the 2012-2013 budget and $10 billion annually by 2020, according to TransForm [PDF].
Brownstein said transit agencies need all the help they can get to avert a much deeper statewide crisis.