Photo via Better Bike Share
April is getting under way and with it some huge changes in transportation. President Biden introduced a new infrastructure plan last week that will have implications for transportation across the country, and the Washington legislature is currently debating it’s own spending plan that will influence transportation in the state for the next decade or more.
Read more below about what’s happening, what we’re paying attention to, and how you can get involved.
— Transportation Choices
Biden Seeks to Use Infrastructure Plan to Address Racial Inequities
In addition to dedicated funding for neighborhoods split or splintered by past infrastructure projects, the proposal also includes money for the replacement of lead water pipes that have harmed Black children in cities like Flint, Mich.; the cleanup of environmental hazards that have plagued Hispanic neighborhoods and tribal communities; worker training that would target underserved groups; and funds for home health aides, who are largely women of color. (New York Times, April 1)
Metro as a Sanctuary: Reimagining Safety on Public Transit
LA Metro’s five-year, multi-agency law enforcement contract ends in 2022. Ending this more than $786 million contract is an opportunity for Metro to align with other jurisdictions in LA County by moving away from punitive, police-first models of creating feelings of “safety” and instead investing in services and support to holistically create real safety for all LA County residents. Companion report. (Alliance for Community Transit)
Unsafe streets in marginalized communities lead to inequitable traffic enforcement
Equitable enforcement of traffic rules is a major national discussion. But under-discussed is the role dangerously-designed streets play in putting Black and brown people in a perilous position: break traffic law and risk interacting with police, or put themselves in harm’s way when navigating unsafe infrastructure. Here’s our recap on a recent House hearing on equitable enforcement of traffic rules. (Transportation for America)
Legislation Eliminates One Objection to Sound Transit Fare Enforcement Reform
“People of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities are more likely to be caught up in this system and can experience especially severe impacts,” Transportation Choices Coalition policy director Kelsey Mesher said. “No one should end up in court because they can’t afford a transit ticket.” (Publicola, March 31)
Fresno Becomes the Largest City in America with Free Buses
“With the election of Councilmember Tyler Maxwell cementing a Democratic super majority in City Council, Fresno has signalled a new era in its public transit system by making all city buses free to ride.” (San Francisco Independent Journal, March 22)
Congrats to Better Bike Share’s 2021 Transportation Justice Fellows!
Meet 12 individuals from across the country, all of whom are doing the heavy work of promoting equity in transportation. (Better Bike Share Partnership, March 26)
Breaking the Urban Bubble: Race & Transportation Policy in Pierce County and Tacoma
How do infrastructure ideas become reality? How do problems like faulty sidewalks and inadequate bus stops get fixed? Policy in Tacoma is a web of stakeholders and decision makers, often spanning into Pierce County. Follow along as the panel tracks issues from concept to implementation and learn how to have concerns addressed. (Crossing Division, March 28)
Tell legislators: Go the distance for transit
A brand new proposal would invest $22 billion in Washington’s transportation system over the next 16 years. After decades of underinvestment in multimodal transportation, this proposal is an important first step but the need for investment is far greater than what is proposed — and the proposal still invests more than $6 billion in new road projects.
Now is our moment to push as hard as possible for a clean and just transportation package. Please raise your voice with us and send a letter to your legislators this week:
Sent your letter and ready to do even more? Join us for a text bank tomorrow night! Washington Environmental Council, Climate Solutions, and Transportation Choices are co-organizing this event to build momentum around the bills.
We’re looking for our next board members
Transportation Choices is seeking new board members ready to be engaged in the success of our organization, steward the financial health of TCC, and have a passion for our mission.
Events and resources
Watch the recording: Clean and Just Transportation Town Hall
On Monday, March 29, 2021 Transportation Choices joined Duwamish River Clean Up Coalition, Disability Rights Washington, Climate Solutions, and the Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy for an online town hall conversation with community leaders and policy advocates about why we need a clean and just transportation system and how we get there. (Transportation Choices)
State Transportation Budgets Reflect Bygone Era
“I think the bigger story is that this budget represents big decisions made in the past. As the legislature continues debating the next transportation package, we need to make sure that it’s oriented toward a sustainable and equitable future.”—Kelsey Mesher, advocacy director, Transportation Choices Coalition (Publicola, March 25)
Organizations Launch Campaign for Sidewalks and Transit Over Highways
On Tuesday, March 9, a coalition of disability justice and environmental justice groups launched a campaign for more investment in sidewalks and public transportation across Washington State. (South Seattle Emerald, March 18)
PSRC resources Equity Advisory Committee
Earlier this month the Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Board unanimously voted to create a resourced Equity Advisory Committee, which will advise PSRC policy boards on equity and create a Regional Equity Strategy. This is great step toward a more equitable transportation system!
2021 Mini-Grant Applications Are Now Open!
The PeopleForBikes Foundation is accepting proposals for grants of $2,500–$10,000 from non-profit community-based organizations, cities or bike share operators. (Better Bike Share Partnership)
Clean Mobility Equity: A Playbook
This report from Greenlining looks at clean vehicle incentives, electric vehicle carsharing and mobility hubs, school bus replacement programs, community-driven clean mobility pilots and more with a goal of understanding whether and how these programs address equity and to outline best practices, challenges, lessons learned, and recommendations. (Greenlining)
Complete Streets Series: Eastside’s Transportation Through Time
As our community plans for the future, join us to look back on the history of transportation on the Eastside. Indigenous land use, the Industrial Revolution, housing/development trends, civil rights, and the persistence of structural racism have all been part of the historical context that has shaped our transportation infrastructure. (Greater Redmond Transportation Management Association)
Inclusive Design of Autonomous Vehicles: A Public Dialogue
This spring, the U.S. Access Board will host a four-part series of virtual meetings on making AVs accessible to passengers with disabilities. Next session: April 7, 2:00–3:30pm EDT. (U.S. Access Board)
National RTAP Community Rides Grant Program now open
The National RTAP Community Rides grant program offers the opportunity to apply for grant awards of up to $100,000 for projects that develop or strengthen transportation partnerships that improve social determinants of health in rural and tribal communities.
History of Enforcement in Transportation
The second part of the “Removing Enforcement Strategies from Transportation Safety Programs” webinar series. (Transportation Equity Caucus)
Support the HEAL Act, SB 5141 — Our moment to stand up for environmental justice is here! The Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act (SB 5141) passed out of the House Appropriations Committee this week with the support of hundreds of advocates. (Front and Centered)
Month of Action Week 4: A manual for safer streets — Submit a comment urging the FHWA to rewrite the MUTCD to put pedestrian and cyclist safety front and center. (Transportation for America)
The Un-Urbanist Assembly — A digital, 23-hour protest, confronting racism in urban planning. Unurbanist Assembly is an annual virtual 23-hour teach-in, confronting the legacy of racism in urban planning. June 18-19. Free. (Thrivance Group)
GRTMA Annual Members Meeting with King County Council Chair Balducci
Join GRTMA & keynote speaker King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci on April 28 at 12:00pm to learn more about major transportation changes coming to King County and what they will mean for you. The event will be closed captioned.
Webinar: Eliminating Cash Options for Public Transit Fares: Costs, Benefits and Equity Impacts — Many transit agencies plan to automate their fare collection and limit the use of cash, yet about 10% of adults in the United States lack a bank account or credit card. Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 10:00am to 11:00am PDT.
Tell Olympia to stop criminalizing poverty — Suspending driver’s licenses and filing DWLS3 charges drains criminal justice resources and unduly burdens poor people with unnecessary criminal convictions that can affect employment and housing opportunities. (ACLU of Washington)
Join Washington Transportation Advocates on Slack — We’ve created a new Slack workspace for transportation advocates across the state! Click the link above to join and share ideas, news, actions, and more.
What we’re reading
Photo via Seattle Times.
‘Decades overdue.’ Transportation industry cheers Biden’s infrastructure plan
“President Biden’s plan is the most visionary proposal for the nation’s transportation network since the dawn of the Interstate Highway System,” Janette Sadik-Khan, chair of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, said in a statement. (CNN, April 1)
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Announces $187 Million in Federal Funding Allocations for Four Bus Rapid Transit Projects
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced a total of $187 million in federal funding will be allocated to four Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) infrastructure projects in California, Utah, and Washington State. (USDOT)
Here’s where Biden’s massive transportation plan might impact the Seattle region
[I]n the transportation realm, Puget Sound leaders know where nearby projects could attract federal money. (Seattle Times, April 1)
The Holy Grail of Transportation Is Right in Front of Us
People have said for years that the bus could be the next big thing in transportation. Now we can make that a reality. (New York Times, March 18)
Two states tax some drivers by the mile. Many more want to give it a try.
How much would YOU pay under a VMT tax? (Washington Post, March 12)
How will you get around post-pandemic in the Seattle area?
The Seattle Times would like to hear about your post-pandemic transportation plans. (Seattle Times, March 29)
Getting There: STA’s electrification plans are a blast from the past – and toward the future
The move toward electric buses, Otterstrom said, is largely about sustainability, both in terms of the system’s environmental impact and in terms of its financial future. (The Spokesman-Review, March 22)
Spokane Transit 40 Year Anniversary
Spokane Transit is marking 40 years of service with a throwback bus livery which is inspired by the design painted on STA vehicles in the early 1980’s. (Spokane Transit)
Revenue forecasts don’t reflect the lived experience of communities
To truly support essential workers, teachers, parents, and others who will drive the economy through our state’s recovery, lawmakers must move beyond a status-quo budget and inequitable tax system. (Washington State Budget & Policy Center)
Washington Climate Assembly wraps with final report
The Washington Climate Assembly was a unique effort to virtually gather together the voices of those who live in Washington to envision the state’s climate future. (Washington Climate Assembly)
Mineta: Public Support for Mileage Fee Grows
The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) released the topline results from its 12th annual survey exploring public support for federal transportation taxes and fees.
Navigating speedbumps to a possible federal VMT
It’s been clear for years that the gas tax has been losing its ability to pay for America’s existing roads and bridges, let alone improvements and new construction. (The Hill, March 25)
The Rules That Made U.S. Roads So Deadly
Why did traffic fatalities rise on U.S. streets during the pandemic? Blame laws that lock in dangerous street designs and allow vehicles known to be more deadly to non-drivers. (Bloomberg, March 30)
America Has Long Favored Cars Over Trains and Buses. Can Biden Change That?
The president’s infrastructure plan tries to break from the past by shifting spending away from new roads and toward public transit. It won’t be easy. (New York Times, April 5)
Boston pilots free public transport for commuters
The City of Boston is piloting a new scheme that will offer free public transport and shared-bike passes as part of an experiment into how financial incentives can impact commuting behaviour. (Cities Today, March 31)
Mission in motion
We are organizing and advocating virtually this year, which means more opportunities for you to get involved. Please sign up for our action alerts, read our Dispatch from Olympia blog series, and follow us on social media for the latest updates. We’ll also be tracking priority transportation bills on our bill tracker.
“Growing up one of my favorite games was SimCity. It was so influential, it was likely one of the reasons I got my urban planning degree. I loved being able to build a city from scratch and see how it developed over time, but I always felt like it lacked something (*cough*publictransit*cough*) and I wanted more! Cue Cities Skylines. This game has so much detail and is essentially a beautiful traffic simulator. In the past several weeks I have spent hours building, tweaking, and refining bus lines, trains, subway stations, cable cars, and bike infrastructure.
“The video here shows some of the most incredible cities built in this game and I love seeing how people use their imaginations to create spectacular urban landscapes.”
Senior Operations Manager
Meme in motion
Amtrak, the largest passenger rail provider in America, said that it plans to upgrade and expand service, including as many as 30 new routes and more trains on 20 existing routes. Service would begin in cities like Nashville, Tennessee, Columbus Ohio, Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada, pending approval from Congress.
This month we want to give a shout out to our members who stand by and support us. Thank you Community Transit, Intercity Transit, King County Metro, Link Transit, Pierce Transit, Seattle Department of Transportation, Sound Transit, Spokane Transit, Whatcom Transit, and Washington State Transit Association.
Want a little extra TCC love? Support Transportation Choices Coalition and make a gift today!
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