Articles and reports on different policies to encourage low-carbon transportation and support equitable public transit systems, and the objections they face.

The Transit Ridership Recipe

Do we want high ridership on every bus and train, or do we want them to run frequently, so they’re there when we need them? “Commentators sometimes criticize transit authorities for low ridership, as though transit were a failing business. But transit authorities are rarely directed to maximize ridership as their primary goal,” this author points out. “A rancher in North Dakota may have to drive 50 miles to find a McDonalds, because the only one will be in a large town where there are enough customers. We don’t describe this situation as McDonalds being unfair to rural folks, because we know McDonalds is a business doing what businesses do.” Read article
Jarrett Walker, Human Transit, July 15, 2015

CA Gas Tax Repeal Effort

A probable November 2018 ballot measure would repeal the 12-cent per gallon gasoline tax increase approved this past legislative session to pay for road repairs, bridge maintenance and some public transit. UPDATE: It lost!

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock Opposing Repeal
Supporters include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and most of California’s Republican congressional delegation from backing that repeal – with a notable exception, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. This Sac Bee editorial is against the repeal. Read article.
By Dan Morain, Sacramento Bee, Dec. 29, 2017

California Voters Now Favor Gas Tax Repeal
The money is already being spent on projects throughout the state. If the funding is suddenly cut, then cities and towns will have to decide which projects they will now need to stop working on and which future projects they should defer, said Mitch Weiss, the chief deputy director of the California Transportation Commission. The same is true for state projects, he said. Read article
By Erin Baldassari, East Bay Times, December 21, 2017

Congestion Pricing

Charging more to drive in the city at rush hour encourages people to try public transit, carpooling, walking or biking. Stockholm does it. Can New York do it?
New York’s Tilt Toward Congestion Pricing Was Years in the Making
In New York City a state task force, called Fix NYC, has been assembled with the goal of developing a congestion pricing plan. Governor Cuomo is expected to unveil a plan early next year and make it a centerpiece of his legislative agenda. Read the article.
Winnie Hu, The New York Times NOV. 28, 2017
Congestion Pricing Was Unpopular in Stockholm — Until People Saw It in Action (includes cool video)
The success of traffic congestion management plans may depend on who makes the plan. One side wants planning controlled by “experts,” not “politicians.” The other wants it controlled by “representatives of the public,” not “technocrats.”
Pricing worked because the transportation planners who put it together prioritized systemic improvements for traffic and transit over the whims of elected officials and political parties. Read article.
David Meyer, StreetsBlog NYC, Nov 28, 2017
Full video (start at 1:45 to skip camera setup)

Fair Value Commuting

This idea builds on the sophisticated commute program used to cut Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) commuting from 75 to 50 percent, by charging SOV fees and offering incentives toward taking alternative commute modes. Legislation could phase in a three-dollar ($3.00) SOV fee and equivalent incentives, implemented at no cost to employers. The article is a research outline that describes the solution (business model, operations, and adoption) and the project research plan.
By Steve Raney, presented at ITS World Congress 2017, Montreal

Transit Pricing

BAAQMD Commuter Benefits Program
Here’s an article that member Harry Chomsky wrote in November 2014 about the Commuter Benefits Program run by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). Read the article and stay tuned for updates (spoiler alert: the new federal budget is not friendly to commuter benefits).
Also see the MTC’s BAAQMD Commuter Benefits Program website.

Caltrain Cheaper for The Rich: Fare Study Update Shows Equity Problems
Low-income riders are much more likely to use more costly fares (one-way tickets, day passes) and less likely to use discounted monthly passes, which individuals can purchase, and much less likely to use deep-discount go-passes, which are only available to full-time employees of large employers. Read the article.
By Adina Levin, Green Caltrain, Dec. 7 2017