By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley) – Caltrans today announced that the California State Controller’s Office has started issuing millions of dollars in local funding to the “early bird” applicants to the $25 million Low Carbon Transit Operations Program, which improves public transportation and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The funding comes from California’s Cap-and-Trade Program for combating climate change.
“This program not only benefits California’s effort to address climate change but fits in with Caltrans’ goal to support and push more alternative transit choices for Californians,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “The projects being funded through this program are going to start showing immediate benefits to communities throughout California.”
Local projects that have benefitted in this first round of funding disbursements include:
· Fare and Transit Rider Promotion/Outreach: $1,346,536 to the Orange County Transportation Authority to provide discount fares and fund a marketing and community outreach effort to attract new riders over a 6-12 month period.
· South County Transit Operating Assistance for New Route 26 Service: $97,348 to South County Transit, part of the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority, to better link Oceano (a transit dependent community) to shopping, jobs and medical and educational services.
· Expanded Service on Route 201 in Eastern Contra Costa County: $178,646 to the Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority to expand service hours and frequency of service from disadvantaged communities to public services.
· Free Fair Bus Passes to Increase Ridership and Promote Transit in Merced: $90,933 to the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County to give out free bus and ADA passes at various transit events in disadvantaged communities.
A complete list of projects is below. Caltrans is currently in the process of reviewing nearly 180 applications in concurrence with the California Air Resources Board (ARB). The list of approved projects will be announced in June for the remainder of the $25 million.
“These grants will help bring low carbon options to transit agencies throughout California,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “The funding, which comes from the sale of carbon allowances to the State’s largest carbon polluters, brings real environmental benefits, as well as enhanced service and savings to the communities that use and depend on transit.”
These nine projects are part of multiple local efforts throughout the state expected to receive $25 million in 2014-15 allocations from the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program. The program was created to provide operating and capital assistance for transit agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve mobility, with a priority on serving disadvantaged communities. Approved projects will support new or expanded bus or rail services, or expanded intermodal transit facilities. They may also include equipment acquisition, fueling, and maintenance and other costs to operate those services or facilities, with each project reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Low Carbon Transit Operations Program is one of several state programs which will be funded by allowance auction proceeds from the California Air Resources Board’s Cap-and-Trade Program into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. Funding from this program will go toward direct investments in transit programs that reduce GHG emissions and benefit disadvantaged communities throughout California. In subsequent years, the program will have a continuous appropriation of 5 percent of total Cap-and-Trade funding.
The 2014-15 State Budget provides $832 million to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund from Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds to support existing and pilot programs that will reduce GHG emissions and benefit disadvantaged communities. This expenditure plan will reduce emissions through several programs, including ones modernizing the state’s rail system (including both high-speed rail and public transit), encouraging sustainable community development with an emphasis on public transportation and affordable housing, restoring forests in both urban and rural settings, increasing energy, water, and agricultural efficiency and creating incentives for additional recycling.
The Cap-and-Trade Program is one of many programs developed under AB 32 to fight climate change. It is designed to reduce greenhouse gases from the largest sources of emission in California, and to drive innovation and steer the State toward a clean energy economy. For more information on the Cap-and-Trade Program visit: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/capandtrade.htm
For more information on the State’s program to spend auction proceeds from the Cap-and-Trade Program visit: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/auctionproceeds/auctionproceeds.htm
Low carbon transportation options are critical for California to achieve its long-term climate goal of an 80 percent reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels by 2050. Caltrans is cutting greenhouse gas emissions by reducing traffic congestion, expanding active transportation and embracing new technology in construction materials, alternative fuels, efficient lighting and renewable energy. For more information on Caltrans’ efforts to fight climate change and to increase the sustainability of California’s transportation system, go to: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/orip/climate_change/documents/Caltrans_ClimateChangeRprt-Final_April_2013.pdf.