Op-Ed: Transportation Funding Talks Must Include Transit, Climate Change

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 1.02.04 PMAn op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee this morning points out the strange disconnects in current legislative discussions on funding transportation.

Authors Jeanie Ward-Waller, policy director of the California Bicycle Coalition, and Chanell Fletcher, senior California policy manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, point out that “two deeply intertwined debates are underway in their usual separate silos in the Legislature.”

Those two separate discussions are about reducing carbon emissions—by, among other things, cutting petroleum use in half – and the special session on transportation infrastructure. The focus of the special session, say the authors, “has been on filling potholes and adding new highway lanes to move more trucks.”

But, they say, “the hard truth is we can’t tackle climate change without dealing with transportation” because transportation accounts for such a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions in California.

Filling potholes doesn’t “fix” our transportation system, but simply paves over a system of highways designed for a 20th century California. Building more highways doesn’t fix our congestion problem. Studies show that the new lanes will just fill up with more cars and trucks as our population and economy continue to grow, and then be marked with potholes in another ten years.

How can we significantly cut petroleum use if we only invest in solutions that add more cars and trucks on our roads? Encouraging consumers to buy electric vehicles will help but will only get us part way.

The solutions “include improving and expanding transit service so buses and trains are convenient, reliable and affordable, especially for commuters who can’t afford a car” and “networks of protected bike lanes and sidewalks to connect neighborhoods to transit, schools, parks, shopping and work so families don’t need a car for every trip.”

These solutions are also climate solutions. They create healthier, more vibrant communities and reduce the cost of transportation for families. Plus, fewer cars on the road means fewer potholes to repair ten years from now.

The authors are part of a coalition calling for increased transit funding and for making it safer and more convenient to walk or ride bikes to connect with transit.





Brown’s Budget Proposal Weak on Sustainable Transportation

Governor Jerry Brown announced his proposed state budget for 2016-17 in Sacramento yesterday. His transportation funding proposals include a few new ideas, but the budget represents precious little change to the status quo. The budget does not reflect any profound rethinking of how we fund transportation, a disappointment for those hoping for change after the recent climate change […]

Finally Transit Is Included in CA Transportation Funding Discussions

On Friday, in separate press events in Los Angeles and San Francisco, several members of the California legislature presented new bills for consideration in the ongoing legislative special session on transportation funding. Various estimates put California’s backlog of deferred road maintenance in the $100-plus-billion range. The special sessions, which involve the creation of new committees […]

Dems, Repubs Far Apart on Solving CA Transportation Funding

The California legislature held its first joint special session on transportation funding just before the holiday weekend. The session was called by Governor Jerry Brown when he and the legislature punted some big decisions so they could sign a budget before the June 30 deadline. The first extraordinary session of the Transportation and Infrastructure Development […]