Caltrans announced $146 million from the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program, or LCTOP, will go to 180 local mass transit projects around the state Friday, continuing their efforts to reduce the transportation sector’s impact on the environment.
The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, City of Lompoc transit and the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District were among the local transit authorities to receive funding. The projects, one in Lompoc and three in Santa Barbara will receive a total of $979,589.
“These projects help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars by increasing the convenience, capacity and ridership of buses and trains around the state-meaning fewer cars on the roads, people using more sustainable modes of transit, and cleaner air for you and your family. The projects reduce or even eliminate fares in some cases, create or expand services, increased use of zero emission technology, and improve facilities,” said Caltrans spokesperson Kyle Simerly.
More than 160 of the projects and $142 million will specifically benefit disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, or low-income households within a half-mile of a disadvantaged community, according to Caltrans.
“These areas are the most affected by the changing climate,” said Mr. Simerly.
In Lompoc, the transit authority will receive $412,128 for new solar panel systems on the new Fleet Maintenance and Transit Operation Center. The system will be installed during the center’s construction, and is projected to generate a total of 112,000 kWh annually for the entire system, according to Caltrans.
Santa Barbara will receive funding for three projects – with $74,758 being allocated to the ongoing Peak Hour Rail Pass Subsidy Program, where funds will be used to offer free and discounted Pacific Surfliner passes between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to reduce congestion on U.S. 101. The pilot program is in its second year and has already reduced costs for hundreds of daily commuters, according to spokesperson for SBCAG Lauren Klemann.
“These are proven strategies that help make the train a success,” Ms. Klemann told the News-Press.
Another $25,000 will go to the city’s public information campaign called Cool Blocks which targets 25 residential blocks in Santa Barbara to reduce household carbon emissions and improve climate change resiliency. The funds will also go towards distributing 10-ride Try Transit passes to each of the participating households.
Programs that improve public transportation is vital for dealing with congestion on the 101, according to Ms. Klemann.
“Nearly 80 percent dedicated train riders say traffic is their motivator,” said Ms. Klemann.
The most money will be going to the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District’s Microtransit Pilot program, with $492,678 being allocated to the new service that will offer flexible, on-demand, curb-to-curb, microtransit service in a specific zone. Riders will be able to order rides from a smartphone app or via a phone call, according to Caltrans. The vehicles will be ADA-accessible hybrid vans.
“We appreciate Caltrans and the State’s investment which helps Santa Barbara County Association of Governments continue to support commuters getting out of traffic and trying alternative transportation options. Whether it is reducing the cost of a train pass or providing the opportunity for a commuter to utilize a free 10-day ride pass, we know that these are proven strategies that help break down barriers to riding the train. For some of the dedicated train riders, they have shared that the ability to take the train to work has been transformative to their day-to-day life,” Ms. Klemann said.
Similar types of projects aimed at protecting the environment will be funded across the state.
LCTOP is one of several state programs under the California Climate Investments funded through auction proceeds from the California Air Resources Board’s Cap-and-Trade Program.
“Our current transportation system is congested and impacts the health of our communities and our planet. This funding gets people out of their cars by providing newer and cleaner ways to travel,” Bob Franzoia, Acting Director of Caltrans, said.