Struggling Communities Land $20M for Emissions-Free Transportation

By Published On: June 24, 2021

Local clean energy transportation projects in 21 polluted, disadvantaged communities across the state were awarded $20 million in grants June 23. The money comes from the California Air Resources Board’s carbon cap-and-trade program and will fund projects ranging from zero emissions shuttles to bike sharing.

“These funds directly support disadvantaged communities and communities of color from across the state, creating safe, clean, affordable and accessible options for getting residents where they need to go,” California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard Corey said Wednesday.

Locations of Clean Mobility Program grant awardees

The clean mobility programs in these heavily-polluted and tribal communities are to fill in gaps in existing public services, including the so-called last mile—the stretch from the bus stop or train to home.

The 21 grants range from $600,000 to $1 million and go to community organizations across 11 counties. The projects include emissions-free, on-demand shuttles for seniors and others, carpools and vanpools, free school buses, bike and scooter sharing, and “ride on demand.” That service is a “hyper-local version of Lyft and Uber that picks up passengers and drops them off,” Christina Heartquist, communications consultant for the Clean Mobility Options Program, told Current. The clean mobility program administers the grants for CARB. It is run by CalStart, the Shared-Use Mobility Center, Local Government Commission and Grid Alternatives.

One of the awardees is in the hard hit city of Richmond in the Bay Area where there are almost no clean, safe options for travel. “These funds will help breathe new life into the community, by literally cleaning up the air we breathe and by providing a new, innovative, affordable and accessible transportation option for residents and visitors,” City of Richmond Transportation Services Project Manager Denée Evans said.

The greenhouse gas reductions from the 21 projects were not estimated. In subsequent grant rounds, the applicants will be asked to tally possible carbon emissions reductions from transit proposals seeking clean mobility grants, Heartquist said.

In addition to Richmond, awards went to projects in Redding, Sacramento, Oakland, Richmond, Stockton, Fresno, as well as to Huron in Fresno County. Other grant recipients in Southern California are Rialto, Anza, Riverside, Chula Vista, Calexico, and El Monte in LA, Leimert Park in South LA, and National City in San Diego. The Tribal grant recipients are the Cahuilla Tribe in Southern California and the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians’ Reservation.

The Clean Mobility Program provided the applicants with free technical assistance during the application process.

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