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New $17M California program to improve access to clean alternative transportation modes in most vulnerable communities

A new California-wide program will make it easier for communities to get funding for clean mobility projects to improve their sustainability and quality of life. The program enables smaller groups and communities of concern that may not have the resources available to access funds for clean transportation choices.

The $17-million program focuses on the needs of these communities to provide clean mobility solutions that include smaller scale car- bike- or scooter-sharing projects, and subsidies for transit, or car-hailing companies.

Awarded to CALSTART and managed by CALSTART and the Shared-Use Mobility Center in partnership with GRID Alternatives and the Local Government Commission, projects will also aim to address “first and last-mile connector trips”: getting residents to and from their homes and local transit stops.

Smaller groups and communities will have an easier time accessing funding for clean mobility projects thanks to the program’s more streamlined approach—the program’s managers will provide applicants with technical assistance, as well as community outreach, helping them build clean mobility project applications that meet transportation needs of individual communities.

CALSTART is a nonprofit organization working with businesses and governments to develop clean, efficient transportation solutions. Shared-Use Mobility Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating an accessible multimodal transportation system. GRID Alternatives focuses on making renewable energy technology accessible to underserved communities. Local Government Commission works to build sustainable communities through policy and outreach.

This grant fulfills several key elements that the California Air Resources Board advanced in March when it directed staff to consider new pilot projects that further advance access to clean mobility, especially for priority populations.

During earlier solicitations for mobility project applicants (a half-dozen projects are rolling out across California now), CARB staff realized that smaller communities and groups could not compete for funding with applicants that had greater resources, both in terms of money and staffing.

This project addresses that gap head on by making it easier for smaller groups and communities to access funding for projects. The two-year pilot project sets up a voucher program for buying or leasing clean vehicles, electric bicycles, scooters and other equipment, and by funding the infrastructure—charging stations, bike and scooter racks, for example—needed for these projects. As part of its outreach efforts to communities, CALSTART will hold workshops throughout the state, helping communities that have faced barriers to funding.

The project directly aligns with goals in a resolution adopted by the Board in March. That resolution outlines actions California should take to help meet the goals of creating sustainable communities under the requirements of Senate Bill 375. That bill set in motion a new approach by regions throughout the state to reduce greenhouse gases by better aligning transportation and land-use planning efforts.

A new report issued late last year concluded, however, that California is not on track to meet transportation-related greenhouse gas reductions expected under SB 375. The recent direction from the Board directed staff to implement recommendations in the report “with the intent to advance sustainable transportation and communities for all Californians in ways that help local governments and other partners meet state climate goals while also advancing other benefits to public health, social equity, and the environment.”

The $17 million funds the program for two years. If this project proves to be successful, it may be expanded.

The project is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.

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