On March 18, 2020, the Environmental Council of Sacramento sent the following message to the Sacramento Board Clerk regarding Sacramento County Measure A’s Draft Expenditure Plan (DEP) .
ECOS consists of 20 locally-based member organizations, as well as many individual members. Since 1971, we have promoted infill development and transit, as opposed to sprawl – to save habitat, reduce pollution, and more recently — to deal with climate change.
We are gratified that Mayor Steinberg and CARB have recognized that new highway projects must demonstrate that they would not exacerbate climate change, in order to be eligible for funding under Measure A+. We strongly support the funding that would be provided to the Air District. We are pleased that Measure A’s Draft Expenditure Plan (DEP) would provide a much greater percentage of funding for transit, compared to 2016’s ill-fated Measure B.
However, the DEP would not provide as great a percentage for transit as the current Measure A. Since current Measure A was approved by voters, the existential threat of climate change has become more obvious and serious. Also, the affordable housing crisis has become California’s biggest problem. Therefore, future county growth must be higher density, and transit-oriented. We can only accomplish this by providing more funding for transit and less money for new roads.
Fix Our Streets, Fund Our Public Transit, and Make Biking and Walking Safer For All
Why this matters
The Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) Board is considering a ballot measure for November 2020 asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax to fund countywide transportation projects and programs. If approved, the new local Measure A would generate an additional $8 billion in local transportation funds over 40 years – $200 million annually. The proposed sales tax measure will shape our transportation system for generations, and it should be spent so that Sacramento County residents have the option of living and working within walking distance of a transit stop from everything they need.
The SacMoves and SMART coalitions are a growing group of business, labor, transportation, environment, public transit and community leaders. We have presented a forward-looking plan to STA that supports this vision by prioritizing expanding rail and transit service, fixing our existing neighborhood roads, while making them safer and connected for bicycles and pedestrians. This will relieve congestion while addressing our air quality, traffic congestion, and creating economic opportunity that will guarantee Accountability, Transparency and Public Participation. Transportation is Sacramento County’s #1 contributor to climate pollution, primarily from the tailpipes of cars and trucks.
It’s important that you let STA board members know you support the SacMoves and SMART Coalitions, along with the Environmental Council of Sacramento and the Sierra Club, in immediately tackling congestion and air quality by investing first in major improvements and expansion of transit, and fixing our local surface streets. Under our plan, transit expansion can eliminate 4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas each year from going into our atmosphere. And, to ensure that local streets and roads provide more types of transportation choices for local trips and getting to transit, 10% of funding should be clearly dedicated for bike, pedestrian and complete streets projects, making local streets safer. Focusing on these two priorities alone will move Sacramento County in the right direction.
Tell your local representatives
Click here for a convenient way to write to your Sacramento County Board Supervisors as well as the Mayors and City Councilmembers of the cities of Sacramento, Galt, Folsom Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove and Isleton.
Attend a meeting, testify
We need everyone to attend the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) meeting on February 26, 2020. The STA Board will be making final consideration on the spending ratios of the Measure. The time is now to tell the board that we want them to Fix our Existing Streets! Fund our Public Transit! Making Biking and Walking safe for all! Safe Routes Everywhere for Everyone!
Special Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) Board Meeting – Wednesday, February 26, 2020 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm at 700 H St, Sacramento, CA 95814
Special Meeting – The Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) Board is considering a ballot measure for November 2020 asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax to fund countywide transportation projects and programs. Sierra Club, ECOS and our coalition of public stakeholders presented guiding principles to STA that will improve rail and transit, make existing neighborhoods safer and connected for bicycles and pedestrians. This will relieve congestion while addressing our air quality, traffic congestion, and creating economic opportunity that will guarantee Accountability, Transparency and Public Participation.
Come and participate at the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) Board Meetings every second Thursday of the month at 1:30 pm
Stakeholders must be at the table to deliberate the allocation of sales tax funds starting with submitting comments to all STA Board Members at every 2nd Thursday Meeting (In person or electronically). How they will spend our money is being developed over the following weeks with developers heavy influence on their interests and not our communities. Without your direct involvement, it will be very difficult to change a plan that does not reflect what Sacramento needs! If we can demonstrate organized Grassroots POWER NOW that can oppose a ballot measure, we will empower STA Board member allies to accomplish an expenditure plan that is consistent with our vision for a healthy future for our region with an innovative transportation system that serves all Sacramento County residents.
Please come and help us call our members to take action: We need everyone to Call, Email, Attend the next Special meeting. We need to demand a better cut for Public Transit and Complete streets. Safe routes everywhere for everyone!
This Special Meeting will take place to discuss the Measure! We need you to show-up, call, email and let your representatives know that funding Public Transit, Complete Streets reduce congestion and will improve the air and health of our Sacramento County.
In order to protect our health and climate, it’s critical we reduce congestion and improve air quality by investing first in fixing our existing roads and expanding mass transit. This measure gives us an opportunity to promote high-quality and stable jobs while keeping more money in our local neighborhoods for fixing our roads and making them safer for bicycles and pedestrians. Sacramento is growing and this is our opportunity to do so with innovative solutions.
We will be phone-banking our members and coalition members to submit comments and attend the The Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) Board Special Meeting 2/26/20 at 1:30pm – STA considering a ballot measure for November 2020 asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax to fund countywide transportation projects and programs. Sierra Club and our coalition of public stakeholders presented guiding principles to STA that will improve rail and transit, make existing neighborhoods safer and connected for bicycles and pedestrians. This will relieve congestion while addressing our air quality, traffic congestion, and creating economic opportunity that will guarantee Accountability, Transparency and Public Participation.
SACRAMENTO, CA – The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) announced today that student ridership has doubled since implementing the fare-free program for youth/students in grades transitional kindergarten (TK) to 12th. SacRT launched the RydeFreeRT program in October 2019, which offers youth/students access to the entire SacRT network, including buses, light rail and SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit service, for free.
Last month, SacRT experienced record ridership increases with 176,500 student trips taken on bus, which is a 106% increase from January 2019 student ridership.
“One of our top priorities at the City of Sacramento is offering more opportunities for young people,” said City of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Having a free transit pass makes it easier to get to that paid internship, to that sports practice or that afterschool program. It’s amazing to see so many students take advantage of their new freedom to move around the Sacramento region and take advantage of all the opportunities it offers.”
The City of Sacramento provided SacRT with $1 million, as well as additional funds from other cities and school districts to counter revenue loss for the year-long RydeFreeRT program.
“Young people have told us the number one reason for chronic absence is lack of transportation. By eliminating transportation barriers, we’re increasing chances for more young people to succeed in school, career and in life,” said SacRT Board Director and City Council Member Jay Schenirer.
“SacRT is setting a new standard that will be emulated across the nation.”
“This program is the first in the nation to offer students free transit seven days a week, anywhere, any time,” said SacRT Board Chair and City Council Member Steve Hansen. “We are seeing a spike in students riding SacRT after school and on weekends, which confirms that there is a strong need for students to get to jobs, internships and extracurricular activities – Exactly what we hoped would happen with the implementation of this program.”
“Free fares for youth not only opens the door to opportunity, it creates lifelong public transit riders by instilling the habit at a young age,” said SacRT General Manager/CEO Henry Li. “Research shows that people who ride public transportation at a young age are more likely to use it as adults, which could have a tremendous impact on traffic congestion and air quality.”
Researchers at University of Texas, Austin who recently completed a study with three Sacramento City Unified School District schools to assess the barriers students face in traveling to school and other activities, are conducting a study on the impact of fare-free transportation on these students’ lives in areas including, but not limited to, school attendance, engagement in out-of-school time enrichment activities, participation in work-based learning, and attitudes towards SacRT in general. The study is expected to be complete this summer.
More than 300 schools in the Sacramento region are enrolled in the program. Most students automatically received a RydeFreeRT sticker with their student ID. For students and youth not attending a participating school, stickers and cards are available for free at local Sacramento County public libraries and SacRT’s Customer Service and Sales Center.
Partners and participating school districts include Sacramento Public Library, Center Unified School District, Elk Grove Unified School District, Folsom Cordova Unified School District, Natomas Unified School District, Robla School District, Sacramento City Unified School District, Sacramento County Office of Education, San Juan Unified School District, Twin Rivers Unified School District, City of Citrus Heights, City of Folsom and City of Rancho Cordova. The RydeFreeRT program runs until September 30, 2020. SacRT is working to secure funding to continue the program in future years.
Within fiscal year 2020, SacRT has seen an estimated 6% increase in ridership system-wide. More information on the program is available at RydeFreeRT.com. Watch a student testimonial about the RydeFreeRT program here.