California Earmarks Clean Transportation Funding for Vulnerable Communities

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A new California program is designed to make it easier for communities to get funding for clean mobility projects to improve their sustainability and quality of life, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced this week. Specifically, the $17 million program enables smaller groups and communities of concern that may not have the resources available to access funds for clean transportation.

The program focuses on clean mobility solutions that include smaller-scale car-, bike- or scooter-sharing projects, as well as subsidies for transit or car-hailing companies. Managed by CALSTART and the Shared-Use Mobility Center, in partnership with GRID Alternatives and the Local Government Commission, the program will also aim to address first- and last-mile connector trips: getting residents to and from their homes and local transit stops.

The two-year pilot project also sets up a voucher program for buying or leasing clean vehicles, electric bicycles, scooters and other equipment, and by funding the infrastructure — e.g., charging stations and bike or scooter racks — 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 program’s managers will provide applicants with technical assistance, as well as community outreach.

“Californians living in communities most impacted by pollution will benefit from new or expanded clean mobility options without having to actually own a car,” states Richard Corey, CARB executive officer. “This project also aligns with the board’s goals for cutting pollution while providing greater access for all Californians to the cleanest-possible mobility choices.”

This grant fulfills several key elements that CARB advanced in March when it directed staff to consider new pilot projects that further 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 who had greater resources, both in terms of money and staffing.

If deemed successful, the project could be expanded beyond two years, says CARB. The project is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing in greenhouse-gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.

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