Student Transit Pass Program (AB 17) Vetoed by the Governor; So What’s Next?

AB_17_Graphic.jpgAt the 11th hour, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 17, the student transit pass program introduced by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) and co-sponsored by Move LA, Transform, Public Advocates, and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.

While we are deeply disappointed by this news, we actually found hope in the Governor’s veto message:

“Many transit agencies, including the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, already have a variety of reduced-fare transit programs for students. Before we create this new statewide program, I think we should have a fuller discussion on how local transit discount programs work and how any new ones should be paid for.”

Rather than a step back in our campaign to make it easier for students to access educational opportunities via public transit, we are buoyed by the fact that the Governor did not close the door on this program and is open to discussing it during the last year of his term. AB 17 was originally introduced with $100 million in funding which was whittled down to $20 million. This amount was then stripped at the last moment from the bill and, while our coalition of organizations tried to find monies elsewhere, we were unsuccessful and the bill passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, but without a funding source.

Not only does the governor’s veto message suggest an opportunity for dialogue, but we are in conversations with LA Metro staff about revising the current program, which has grown significantly but not enough to make a dent in ridership. We hope they will pilot a new program model that has seen major success at colleges across the country. This LA Metro pilot could provide passes to all students so that students there can ride any line, any time. We think this idea has the potential to jumpstart student ridership in a significant way (25-40%!) and look forward to launching that program.

Alameda County just finished its 1st year of a similar affordable student transit pass program pilot and saw a very significant increase in ridership and decline in student absenteeism.

So, in a way, the Governor has a point. We need to have a fuller discussion on local transit discount programs for students (which we are having) and finding the money to support it (which we are seeking). Even if the Governor had signed AB 17, it would have been a program without a dedicated funding source, and so the effort would have continued to next legislative session anyways.25_organizational_supporters.jpg

We are grateful to the hundreds of activists and 80+ organizations that supported AB 17 in a true coalition effort. We hope you will stick with us as we fight for better access to education through our public transit system for the millions of students in California.

Is LA County on the Verge of a Universal Student Transit Pass Program?


Our ambition is to make prepaid transit passes available to every college student in LA County so that they can ride for free all over the county—not just to school—a strategy that will boost transit ridership,provide traffic relief, and maybe create transit riders for life!

The opportunity for a truly “universal” student transit pass program is 1 of several topics we’ll discuss at our 9th Annual Transportation Conversation at the LA Cathedral's Conference Center in downtown LA Oct. 27. Students are encouraged to attend and can get in free by registering HERE NOW!

We will also discuss building a broader coalition to boost transit ridership, developing more affordable housing near transit, and achieving our long-standing ambition to clean Southern California’s air at the same time we dramatically reduce the GHG emissions that cause climate change. 

But we’re not all talk—we’re also about action: This month the California Legislature resoundingly endorsed AB 17, the discounted low-income student transit pass bill we sponsored—authored by Asm. Chris Holden, D-Pasadena—passing it off the floor of the Assembly 76-2 and the Senate 37-2! This bill could help create a universal student pass program here.

Will Governor Brown sign the bill? He has until Oct. 15. Please sign our petition HERE and give his office a call at 916-445-2841 ext. 4. Tell the staff member who answers that you urge the governor to sign AB 17 into law! It takes only a few minutes.

We believe it’s only a matter of time before a truly effective universal transit pass program gets off the ground in LA County. Think of the ancillary benefits: Providing discounted passes not only to students but also seniors and people with disabilities helps reduce the cost of living, improves mobility, access to opportunity, and quality of life, and will train a new generation of transit riders who may then make decisions about where to live and work depending on whether there’s transit access.

Please join us at our 9th Annual Transportation Conversation Oct. 27. REGISTER HERE and find out more! Scholarships are also available for low income people.


Creating Sustainable Communities for All: Our Lobby Trips to Sacramento

Denny Zane and Eli Lipmen on the California State Senate FloorMove LA staff has been hard at work lobbying for dollars to create sustainable communities for all through affordable housing, active transit, rail investment and more! And thanks to the kind invitation of Senator Ben Allen, a long-time friend of Move LA and public transportation, Denny Zane and Eli Lipmen were invited to visit the Senate Floor during a Floor Session - what a special treat!

We've have flown up to Sacramento twice over the past couple of weeks to join organizations from across California advocating for funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. This money comes from California's cap-and-trade program, which was recently reauthorized, that provides tradable credits to polluters who can then trade and purchase them in a marketplace. The proceeds from the auction go towards critical funding programs to reach California's ambitious climate change goals, and the annual appropriations amount for 2017-2018 is over $1.4 billion (in addition to the continuously appropriated funds for such things as transit capital, transit operations, affordable housing, and high-speed rail).

The "Sustainable Communities for All" Coalition, which Move LA helped to create several years ago, is an equity-focused coalition supporting GGRF appropriations that assist in reaching the state's SB 32 greenhouse gas reduction goals through the creation of vibrant and inclusive communities, consistent with AB 1550, SB 535, and AB 398. The priority programs reduce greenhouse gasses, deliver economic benefits to resource-poor households, create and sustain jobs to boost our economy and promote public health and environmental justice.

Members of the Sustainable Communities For All Coalition received a special welcome on the Assembly Floor!

While in Sacramento we lobbied members and their staff from both the California State Senate and Assembly to support appropriations for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, which funds transit-oriented affordable housing programs, and the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and Low Carbon Transit Operations program, which supports local and regional rail and transit capital and operations. We spoke about these important items at the Senate Budget Subcommittee 2 on the Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy, and Transportation. The Coalition also lobbied for urban forestry and greening, low-income weatherization, and active transportation programs to expand biking and walking options.

One of Move LA's priority programs is the AB 17 (Holden) student transit pass program. This excellent proposal, currently being considered in the California Senate, would provide discounted transit passes to low-income students to increase mode-shift and transit ridership among the next generation of potential life-long riders. Along with the nonprofits Transform and Public Advocates, Move LA is one of the top supporters of this critical legislation. In fact, we are encouraging supporters to sign our petition which we will deliver to legislators and the Governor!

We are hoping that between money allocated through the normal budget process, along with $50 million in GGRF funds, we can establish a robust program for students across the State that will help reduce costs for low-income people, increase life-long ridership, and reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and congestion by getting people out of their cars!

The Story Behind Measures R and M

While many people have heard of Move LA, they frequently don’t understand our role in building the broad coalition that convinced LA Metro to place Measures R and M on the ballot and provide the support to help LA Mayors Garcetti and Villaraigosa gain the 2/3 voter support needed to pass them

So it was gratifying to read an article in The American Prospect titled, “The Great Los Angeles Revolt Against Cars,” that speaks directly to Move LA’s role in changing mobility in Los Angeles County. From Executive Director Denny Zane’s inspiration for Move LA to what comes next for our region, the article shows the critical role that Move LA has played in bringing bold changes to LA County. Here is an excerpt:

Zane got to work building the coalition. He brought together environmentalists looking to reduce carbon emissions from cars, labor unions seeking good jobs building rail, and business groups wanting better quality of life for employees and customers. He called the new organization Move LA. “We could have been laughed off, but we weren’t,” Zane says. “The first meeting, I invited 35 organizations and 34 showed up.” Some of these groups hadn’t worked together in years, if ever. They spent close to a year developing a workable plan...

Move LA’s plan proved compelling enough to persuade the Metro board to devise Measure R (for “relief”), which would go before voters on the November 2008 ballot. Metro’s board settled on a 30-year, half-cent sales tax increase, raising $30 billion to $40 billion for 12 specific rail, subway, and road projects. Zane initially balked at the regressive tax choice, but studies showed that businesses and tourists paid more than half of all sales taxes because of California’s many exemptions for necessities.

Read more

LA Metro Should Think Bigger When Purchasing New Buses

USA_Clean_Energy_Dispenser_LA_Metro_Bus_Aug2013-250x166.jpgEliminating emissions from Los Angeles Metro buses is a goal being set by the Metro Board at a meeting this week. At Move LA, we are in support of a goal of achieving zero emissions for the bus fleet by 2030. However, the decision the Board makes isn’t just about the Metro fleet - it is a much bigger issue. Pollution from transit operators accounts for less than 1% of overall NOx emissions. The biggest producer of harmful NOx emissions—which causes smog and creates huge health problems for children, the elderly, and those with chronic diseases—are heavy-duty trucks.

Transit operators are a testing ground for durability, reliability, cost and other factors for the heavy-duty trucking industry. Our Executive Director Denny Zane is quoted in this Los Angeles Times article saying that Metro must think bigger picture by purchasing both electric buses as well as near-zero emission natural gas buses powered by Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). Transit fleets facilitate the deployment of clean advanced technologies in the much larger marketplace for heavy-duty trucks, which remain LA County’s biggest clean air challenge. The goal should be to "encourage the trucking and freight industry to make the same change.” That will only happen if truck operators believe that these zero and near-zero emissions engines and power systems are operationally ready. Metro can play a critical role in facilitating that change with their vote on Thursday.

Read the rest of the LA Times article on LA Metro’s plan for an emission-free fleet by 2030 and join us in October at our upcoming 9th Annual Conference as we discuss how we achieve emission-free fleet for all goods movements in the region.

First Year of Measure H Funding Approved by Board of Supervisors to Help End Homelessness!

Photo from 89.3 KPCC:
Photo from 89.3 KPCC:

It was another “rainbow coalition” of supporters that came out on Tuesday, June 13 to support the Measure H funding allocation at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting. In March, voters approved Measure H, a quarter-cent Los Angeles County tax that will provide $355 million/year over 10 years for an array of services proven to help people get off—and stay off—the streets.

“It’s time to move LA…to end homelessness,” said Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane. “Our challenge is bigger, our resolve is greater, and now we have the resources to use to make it happen.”

Sixty-six organizations sign a letter to the Board of Supervisors commending the Board for its leadership, calling for continued collaboration and accountability in moving forward.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas called it a “historic” vote after an unprecedented, collaborative process that included representatives from 50 public and private organizations and stakeholders who developed the series of Measure H funding recommendations.

"These are daunting numbers, but we're not daunted by them," said Chris Ko of the United Way, which helped lead the effort to pass the measure. "We're excited to get to work."

Over 200 supporters came out to support the Measure H funding recommendations at a press event and rally organized by Move LA. Following the rally, more than 100 speakers testified in support of the motion by the Board of Supervisors, which passed unanimously. Over sixty organizations sign a letter to the Board of Supervisors commending the Board for its leadership, calling for continued collaboration and accountability in moving forward (read the letter).

In its first five years, Measure H will help 45,000 homeless families and individuals and another 30,000 Angelenos stay housed. With the 23% rise in the homeless count over the past year, many expressed a renewed sense of purpose and urgency to deploy Measure H resources effectively.

Action Alert: Save AB 17, the Student Transit Pass Bill!


Low-income students in California need your help. Please join Asm. Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) and nearly 100 organizations and individuals that support creating a statewide program to help fund discounted student transit passes for middle-school, high school, and public college and university students!

Asm. Holden's bill, AB 17, has been put on the Suspense File in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and we need to convince committee members to take the bill off Suspense by Friday, May 26, or it will die.

Please call the committee chair (the most important member!) and the committee member who represents you or the district closest to you. Members’ names and phone numbers are listed below. You can google the Wikipedia page of each Assembly district to find out the cities in the district and determine whether you live there.

Calling is super easy: Tell the person who answers the phone that you urge the member to support AB 17 and take it off suspense. If you live in their district you will be asked for your name and address; if you don’t live there say you want to make your opinion known because you think student transit passes for low-income students are very important.

We strongly believe we must increase transit ridership if California is going to reduce traffic, and student passes have been shown to significantly increase student ridership and to significantly reduce the cost of an education—as well as greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution!

The bill is co-sponsored by Move LA, Transform and the Student Senate of California Community Colleges and has been endorsed by all of the nonprofit organizations with logos above and an array of supporters from LA Metro to BART, the Teamsters to the California Faculty Association, cities including South Pasadena and Thousand Oaks, and distinguished academic researchers including UCLA’s Donald Shoup and USC’s Manuel Pastor. Nearly 100 organizations and individuals have signed on to letters of support!

Appropriations Chair Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher • D-San Diego • District 80 • 916-319-2080
Vice Chair Frank Bigelow • R-O’Neals • District 5 • 916 319-2005
Richard Bloom • D-Santa Monica • District 50 • 916-319-2050
Raul Bocanegra • D-Pacoima • District 39 • 916-319-2039
Rob Bonta • D-Alameda • District 18 • 916-319-2018
William Brough • R-Dana Point • District 73 • 916-319-2073
Ian Calderon • D-Whittier • District 57 • 916-319-2057
Ed Chau • D-Monterey Park • District 49 • 916-319-2049
Susan Talamantes Eggman • D-Stockton • District 13 • 916-319-2013
Vince Fong • R-Bakersfield • District 34 • 916-319-2034
Laura Friedman • D-Glendale • District 43 • 916-319-2043
James Gallagher • R-Nicolaus • District 03 • 916-319-2003
Eduardo Garcia • D-Coachella • District 56 • 916-319-2056
Adam Gray • D-Merced  District 21 • 916-319-2021

Thank you so very much—in advance—for supporting an important bill!

Why LA Metro Should Buy Both Electric and Natural Gas Buses


Move LA is urging the Metro Board of Directors to adopt the new bus purchase policy recommended by staff: that Metro purchase both electric buses as well as near-zero emission natural gas buses powered by Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)—with preference given to products manufactured in LA County. Below are some excerpts from Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane's letter to the Metro Board. You can read the entire letter HERE.

 . . . Transit fleets play a vital role in facilitating the deployment of cleaner advanced technologies in the much larger marketplace for heavy-duty trucks, which remain LA County’s biggest clean air challenge. Move LA believes truck operators can learn a lot from transit operators, and that bus fleets can serve to demonstrate the operational readiness of advanced heavy-duty engines and power systems in more complex and demanding duty cycles.

Staff has made a compelling case for the inclusion of buses powered by RNG, sometimes called biogas or biomethane, because their ultra-clean natural gas engines have been certified as near-zero-emission technologies, and because RNG removes methane, a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere. Other transit operators, including Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, have had success with RNG. We urge Metro to assume a leadership role in expanding its use.

Diesel emissions are a toxic air contaminant heavily implicated in the incidence of asthma and lung cancer. Transit can serve as a kind of “proving ground” that helps cleaner technologies gain acceptance in the heavy-duty truck marketplace. This is especially important since neither the state nor the South Coast AQMD had direct regulatory authority over truck emissions in California . . .

 . . . Battery electric vehicles still have range challenges. There may simply be a limit to the role that battery-powered electric engines can play in the larger heavy-duty vehicle universe: good for drayage trucking or in-basin delivery, but not appropriate for medium-range or long-haul trucking.

For those longer trips and more demanding duty cycles natural gas technologies perform well. Facilitating the deployment of heavy-duty engines powered by RNG in transit bus applications readies this technology to enter the longer haul heavy-duty marketplace.

That is an exceptionally important role for environmental purposes and Metro should treat that role as an important part of its mission. In the entire heavy-duty vehicle sector, it is not electric versus natural gas that is the relevant comparison here—it is both versus diesel . . .

 . . . Awareness of this important additional role for transit systems was taught to me by the late Carl Moyer with whom I worked in the 1990s on legislation that now bears his name, the Carl Moyer Program, one of our state’s most important clean air programs for advancing clean alternatives to diesel power in heavy- duty on and off-road applications. Carl was a technology expert, often used by the California Air Resources Board when it came to questions about heavy-duty vehicles, principally trucks. Carl had a deep understanding of both the operational elements as well as the emissions and environmental implications of all engine technologies that were candidates for the heavy-duty vehicle sector.

Carl would emphasize that while cleaning up transit buses was a vital agenda on its own, for public health and environmental justice reasons, the larger agenda needed to be getting all heavy-duty vehicles – trucks, trains, off-road vehicles like bulldozers and the like – off diesel fuel . . .

 . . .  . . . If Carl Moyer were here today I believe that he would say that the transit bus sector best serves our larger community’s environmental goals as well as its own performance objectives by treating both electric powered and near-zero emission RNG technologies as important components of our fleet. Otherwise we will be conceding to diesel a continuing and dominant role in long-haul trucking.

Read the entire letter HERE.

11th Annual Los Angeles Business Council Sustainability Summit

Our friends at the Los Angeles Business Council are hosting their 11th Annual Sustainability Summit on Friday, April 28th at the Getty Center. Keynote speakers include: Emile Haddad, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and California Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon. Register for the Sustainability Summit on April 28th by clicking below.


Move LA is on the Shared Mobility Action Plan's Implementer Council


The Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC) has created an Implementers Council—and Move LA sits on it—to help oversee implementation of LA County’s Shared Mobility Action Plan, with the goal of taking 100,000 cars off the road in LA County in the next 5 years by expanding public transit, bikesharing, carsharing and ride-hailing.

Council members include:

  • Doran Barnes, Executive Director, Foothill Transit
  • Tamika Butler, ‎Executive Director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
  • Diego Cardoso, Executive Officer, Transit Corridors, Active Transportation & Sustainability, LA Metro
  • Emily Castor, Director of Transportation Policy, Lyft
  • Suja Lowenthal, Transit Planning & Community Engagement Manager, City of Santa Monica – ‎Big Blue Bus
  • Hervé Muller, President, BlueLA (Bolloré)
  • Hilary Norton, Executive Director, FAST (Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic)
  • Susana Reyes, ‎Senior Analyst, Office of Sustainability, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti
  • Seleta Reynolds, General Manager, LA Department of Transportation
  • Joshua Schank, Chief Innovation Officer, Office of Extraordinary Innovation, LA Metro
  • Smokey West, General Manager, Los Angeles, Zipcar
  • Thomas Yee, Initiative Officer, LA Thrives
  • Denny Zane, Executive Director, Move LA

The council will meet quarterly to discuss challenges, share information and measure progress toward the plan’s goal. Council members will also play an ongoing role in helping to implement strategies in the action plan, which include:

  1. Expanding the Role and Reach of Transit
  2. Driving Cultural Change to Support Transit & Shared Mobility
  3. Emphasizing and Expanding Carsharing in All Communities
  4. Leveraging the Region’s Bikesharing Momentum
  5. Experimenting with Ridesourcing, Microtransit & Vanpooling
  6. Building out Mobility Hubs Countywide

SUMC, which is based in Chicago, has been working with the City of Los Angeles on the city’s EV carsharing pilot and building momentum for constructing integrated mobility hubs, and expanding bikeshare. Here's more info on the action plan.

Donate Volunteer Find an Event


get updates