Community Transportation Needs Assessments
The first of six California Air Resources Board (CARB) Senate Bill (SB) 350 Barriers Report priority recommendations is to expand assessments of low-income resident transportation and mobility needs to ensure feedback is incorporated in transportation planning. Transportation needs and opportunities vary widely across California’s diverse communities and often differ among residents within the same community. Under existing transportation planning methods, however, residents of priority populations often feel their voices, experiences, and interests are not taken into consideration.
The overarching goal of this priority recommendation is for the State’s transportation planning process to directly engage priority community residents and local grassroots organizations and ensure their feedback guides tailored investments in clean transportation projects and informs transportation planning.
CARB has allocated funding to support community clean transportation needs assessments through its Low Carbon Transportation Investments (LCTI) Program. As part of a larger portfolio of clean transportation incentive projects, the LCTI Program’s subset of Clean Mobility Equity Investments projects focus on developing clean and shared transportation services that increase access to key destinations for priority populations. In addition to providing implementation grants, both the Sustainable Transportation Equity Project (STEP) and the Clean Mobility Options Voucher Pilot (CMO) project provide funding for priority populations including disadvantaged communities to conduct community-driven transportation needs assessments.
CARB invested just over $1.7 million to-date to fund eight STEP Planning and Capacity-Building projects led by community-based organizations, local governments, and transit agencies. The projects include a range of activities such as outreach and education, forums for community-decision making, and clean transportation planning.
In addition, CARB’s CMO project held its first application window in 2020. Vouchers worth up to $50,000 for transportation needs assessments were awarded to 24 projects led by nonprofits, local governments, transit agencies, and tribal governments. Since this first window, CARB learned communities need more resources and time to carry out an inclusive community transportation needs assessment. In 2022, CMO opened the second application window with $1 million available for vouchers worth up to $100,000 each. The application window is now closed, and awardees will be announced in summer 2023. Vouchers cover a range of assessment activities such as outreach, community engagement, data collection, and surveys.
CARB’s LCTI Program continues to prioritize funding for clean transportation needs assessments through a separate distinct funding category starting in Fiscal Year 2022-23 for Planning and Capacity-Building. The goal of this funding category is to help ensure community feedback is incorporated in transportation planning and guides clean transportation investments within low-income and disadvantaged communities. Specific funding amounts and project policy details for Planning and Capacity-Building, STEP, CMO and other clean mobility projects are established each year through the Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation Investments. A new solicitation for community-driven Planning and Capacity-Building, Clean Mobility in Schools, and STEP will be released in summer 2023.