This week the state Legislature's Budget Conference Committee is considering including student transit passes in the 2015-2016 budget, to be funded with $25 million from the state's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, with another $25 million for the state's Active Transportation Program. A decision could be made as early as today. Conference committee phone numbers are listed below.
Student transit passes and the request for active transportation funding made it into the Assembly's version of the budget last week, after an advocacy effort led by Move LA, the California Bicycle Coalition, and the Sustainable Communities for All coalition. The Budget Committee will reconcile differences between the Assembly's version of the budget and the Senate's, which does not include money for either transit passes or active transportation.
Move LA believes that transit pass programs should be funded with proceeds from the state's Cap & Trade program (implemented through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund) because they have been proven (see previous blog post) to increase transit ridership while decreasing car ownership, VMT (vehicle miles traveled), and GHG emissions, meantime also providing access to economic and educational opportunities.
A survey of programs at 31 universities and colleges across the country by the University of California Transportation Center found that during the first year of program implementation, increases in student transit ridership ranged from between 70 and 200 percent. (Also see previous blog post.)
For more information read the letter that the Move LA and other advocates sent to the Legislature last week, requesting "$25 million for implementation by transit operators of a transit pass program for college, university, and K-12 students and for residents of deed-restricted affordable homes near transit services." The $25 million request for the Active Transportation Program is "for grants to local agencies for projects that increase bicycling and walking access to transit and key destinations, prioritize benefits to disadvantaged communities, and prove safety and public health."
The Assemblymembers selected for the Budget Conference Committee are:
• Shirley Weber (D) - (916) 319-2079;
Staff contact: Scott Matsumoto - Scott.firstname.lastname@example.org
• Richard Bloom (D) - (916) 319-2050;
Staff contacts: Sean MacNeil - Sean.email@example.com, Guy Strahl- firstname.lastname@example.org
• Melissa Melendez (R) - (916) 319-2067;
Staff contacts: Matthew Borasi - Matthew.email@example.com, Sam Spencer- Sam.firstname.lastname@example.org
• Speaker Toni Atkins (D) – 916 319-2078;
Staff contact: Zack Olmstead, email: Zachary.email@example.com
The Senators selected for the Budget Conference Committee are:
• Mark Leno (D) - (916) 651-4011
Staff contact: Bob Hartangel – Bob.Hartangel@sen.ca.gov
• Ricardo Lara (D) - (916) 651-4033
Staff contact: Cory Allen - Cory.firstname.lastname@example.org
• Jim Nielsen (R) - (916) 651-4004
Staff contacts: David Reade – David.email@example.com, Jennifer Teasdale – firstname.lastname@example.org
• Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D) – (916) 651-4151;
Staff contact: Kip Lipper - email: Kip.Lipper@sen.ca.gov