Working again with Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat from the Coachella Valley, CalBike has sponsored a bill to make social equity a priority in transportation funding. Assembly Bill 1640, also supported by PolicyLink and Public Advocates, Inc., would require the state's regions to direct 25% of their transportation funding to "projects that provide direct and meaningful benefits to low-income communities and transit routes." AB 1640 is one of three bills that make up this year's Equity Package of transportation reform bills championed by a coalition of transportation and equity advocacy organizations led by CalBike's Jeanie Ward-Waller.
The other two bills are AB 17 which will create reduced-cost and free transit passes for disadvantaged students, and AB 179 which will require the California Transportation Commission to include bona fide representatives of communities disproportionately burdened by, and vulnerable to, high levels of pollution and other environmental justice issues.
Together, these bills seek to being to reverse decades of transportation neglect suffered by many of California's residents, mostly people of color. They are the focus of the upcoming Transportation Equity Summit and Advocacy Day April 24-25 when about 150 advocates will converge on Sacramento to network and learn from community leaders, experts, and officials on issues at the intersection of social equity and transportation.
Here's our statement on AB 1640:
Advancing Equity in our State’s Transportation System for Low-Income Communities of Color
To address these historic inequities and maximize mobility and safety outcomes for ALL users of our transportation system, this bill would require that 25 percent of funding of the Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP), local streets and roads, and the State Transit Assistance (STA) be targeted to transportation projects that provide meaningful benefits for our most vulnerable residents and address their long overdue transportation needs and burdens. Targeting resources to our communities of highest need would create a powerful and visionary shift that aligns our significant transportation spending to support the right type of investment for low-income communities and build the infrastructure we need to advance health, safety, opportunity, and sustainability for all.
Secondly, to assist Caltrans and local transportation agencies in targeting resources to effectively serve disadvantaged communities, this bill would require Caltrans to develop Guidelines on transportation benefits for lowincome transportation disadvantaged communities. In coordination with the Air Resources Board, the Strategic Growth Council, and the Department of Public Health, and in consultation with community residents and stakeholders through a robust public participation process, Caltrans would establish criteria within the guidelines for defining and assessing project benefits for transportation disadvantaged communities that address their unique challenges as identified by local low-income community residents.
In specifying criteria, the department shall consider factors that include but are not limited to inadequate access to high quality transit, lack of sidewalks, crossing facilities or bicycle infrastructure, low rates of automobile ownership, proximity to a freeway, major arterial, and goods movement corridors, lack of shelters, benches, or lighting at transit stops, lack of accessibility to community-identified amenities such as transit stops, employment centers, schools, medical facilities, grocery stores, and other community services, and other health and air pollution impacts of the transportation system. In further supporting the department in this effort, this bill would strengthen and elevate the roles and responsibilities of the Caltrans Office of Disadvantaged Communities Branch.
Lastly, in order to track benefits in disadvantaged communities, this bill would institute a monitoring process in the STIP that would require regions to report out on benefits in disadvantaged communities per the Guidelines criteria and definitions. This information would be provided to the legislature in the California Transportation Commission’s (CTC) annual report.
Download the official fact sheet for Garcia's Transportation Equity Funding Priority bill: Download Fact Sheet.