Got an Idea for Better Mobility in the Bay Area? Here’s Where to Send It

Six years ago there was no such thing as Uber. And a short time before that, bike-share and car-share were just ideas. Today, there’s an array of new ways to get from A to B. None required new bridges, trains, roads or other expensive infrastructure.

Just Transit SF with city backgroundSo what else is possible?

That’s what the Palo Alto-based Schmidt Family Foundation, created by a Google executive, hopes to find out with its “Just Transit SF Challenge.” They’re soliciting ideas aimed at “helping provide equity to areas that don’t have transportation access now,” explained Jessica Early, an administrator of the challenge. The contest is part of the “11th Hour Project,” a program of the foundation, which aims to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Awards are in three categories: $125,000, $50,000 and $25,000. “Prize competitions spark innovation in a way that traditional grant-making often can’t,” added Early.

This is not about pie-in-the-sky fantasies. Contestants must partner with an agency, business, or non-profit that can implement the idea, at least in part, by 2017. Partners might include BART, SFMTA, or an organization such as PODER (People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Justice), which works on solving environmental issues in low-income communities of color.

“A hundred grand and great ideas shouldn’t substitute for investing in bus reliability, or putting subways in the ground,” said Nick Josefowitz, BART Director, District 8. “But I’ve always been impressed by how much systems can be improved when you bring in a bit of money and some fresh thinking. That’s why this prize is so exciting to me.”

A release describes the Just Transit SF Challenge as “a great opportunity for transit enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, transportation and urban planners, university students and professors, civil engineers and community organizers, MUNI and BART riders.”

And Streetsblog readers, of course.

For more information or to enter the contest, check out justtransitsf.com.

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Jay Walder and Darlene Gee at SPUR Oakland. Photo: Streetsblog

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