Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, TransportationTags , , , , Leave a comment on Sonoma County greenhouse gas emissions went down in 2014, but 2015 target not likely to be met

Sonoma County greenhouse gas emissions went down in 2014, but 2015 target not likely to be met

Center for Climate Protection

Graph of ghg emissions
Sonoma County Total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions or 2014
(2015) Center for Climate Protection

The Center for Climate Protection just released its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Report for Sonoma County for 2014. The report calculates GHG emissions from major sectors to reveal trends that demonstrate progress toward the County’s goals.
The report shows us that in 2014, Sonoma County produced about 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is a decrease of about 14% from 2007, when county emissions reached a high of about 4.2 million tons.
“It’s too soon to tell if this is a trend we can count on, but we believe that we’re bringing emissions down in a real and hopefully accelerating way,” said Ann Hancock, Executive Director of the Center for Climate Protection. The Center has been tracking the county’s greenhouse gas emissions since 2003.
The launch of Sonoma Clean Power in 2014 brings reasons for hope. Sonoma Clean Power customers receive greener electricity, which promises to play a critical role going forward.Mark Landman, Chair of Sonoma Clean Power Authority and Cotati City Councilmember reported, “In our first year of operation, Sonoma Clean Power’s electricity reduced greenhouse gas emissions 48% compared with PG&E’s power mix last published data from 2013. At the same time, our customers saved a total of $13.6 million on their bills.”
The Sonoma County Water Agency, one of the largest energy users in the county, achieved its goal of operating a carbon-free water system, procuring 100% of its electricity needs through renewable sources, thanks in part to Sonoma Clean Power.
Transportation, however, is by far the county’s largest culprit of carbon production, accounting for about 65% of Sonoma County’s total emissions.
But there’s hope here, too. According to the Center for Climate Protection’s soon-to-be-released draft report on electric vehicles, Sonoma County can significantly reduce transportation emissions by shifting from gas and diesel-powered vehicles to those powered by electricity.
“Expanding low carbon and zero emission travel is one of our top priorities,” said Suzanne Wilford Smith, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. “We aim to do this by reimagining public transportation, incentivizing EVs, looking at new policies like user-based road use fees, launching SMART, and implementing a car share program.”
Although Sonoma County is a climate protection leader, this report shows that there’s a long way to go.
Sonoma County is aiming for a 2015 target of reducing emissions 25% below 1990 levels, equal to about 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, by 2015. In 2005, Sonoma County and all nine of its cities pledged by resolution to achieve this goal, which corresponds to what is known scientifically as atmospheric carbon stabilization, the imperative for a life-sustaining climate.
“Although we won’t meet our extremely ambitious 2015 target, we’re moving in the right direction,” said Hancock. “We have to work a lot harder to move a lot faster.”
To meet the goal, emission reduction measures must overcome powerful forces, particularly increases in population and an economy largely based on fossil fuels.
Read more at: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Went Down in 2014 – Center for Climate Protection

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living, TransportationTags , Leave a comment on Sonoma County looks to expand rural bus service

Sonoma County looks to expand rural bus service

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
County supervisors on Tuesday are set to authorize a $2.2 million expansion of county bus service along existing routes serving Healdsburg, Sonoma Valley and communities along the lower Russian River.
The move is expected to boost access to transportation for low-income people, seniors and those with disabilities who struggle to secure transportation to essential services such as doctor visits, as well as day-to-day access to food outlets and reliable travel to work.

Upon approval, the funding would decrease wait times for riders during busy morning and evening commute hours, officials said, as well as help the county purchase two new energy-efficient buses.

County supervisors hailed the expansion as a much-needed link between rural communities and the North Bay’s planned passenger rail line, set to begin service by the end of next year.

“It’s been a challenge to figure out how we link SMART service to people in Sonoma Valley, along the river and in Healdsburg who may be far removed from the spine of Sonoma County,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Gorin. “This is very critical — I hear from many constituents about how difficult it is to reach services, whether it’s health care, food or education.”

Bryan Albee, a manager with Sonoma County Transit, said the county likely will roll out the bus system expansion by the end of 2016, coinciding with the current timeline for the start of service on the 43-mile SMART line.

“We’re expecting great demand for the new rail service and increased ridership on all of our bus routes,” Albee said. “So as we get closer, we’re looking for ways to fund expanded services and additional buses.”

Read more via Sonoma County looks to expand rural bus service | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living, TransportationTags , Leave a comment on Yearlong Sonoma County Transit program offers free rides

Yearlong Sonoma County Transit program offers free rides

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
For the next year, veterans and college students in Sonoma County will be able to ride Sonoma County Transit buses free of charge.
The initiative, approved by the Board of Supervisors in September, is aimed at creating incentives to ride public transportation, easing traffic congestion in school zones and eliminating barriers veterans may face in transit to care facilities.
The program went into effect Jan. 1. Students and veterans just need to show a valid identification card to ride.
Supervisors agreed to pay for the subsidies out of the general fund. The program is expected to provide nearly 300,000 free rides per year. Total cost is projected to be $311,000 for the yearlong program.
Future funding largely depends on approval of the county’s sales tax initiative to pay for road repairs, set to go before voters this June. A portion — 10 percent — would be set aside for public transportation programs.
Read more via Yearlong Sonoma County Transit program offers free rides | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories TransportationTags , , Leave a comment on Supervisors postpone road tax measure to June

Supervisors postpone road tax measure to June

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to delay until June 2015 a proposed quarter-cent sales tax measure to fund maintenance and repairs on the county’s crumbling 1,382-mile road network.
They also agreed to shorten the measure’s 20-year life to five years.
The move came after county officials, citing public distrust of government spending, said they needed additional time to educate voters about the county’s long-term roads plan and establish support for the tax increase. It was originally set for a March special election after the Board of Supervisors this summer passed on its chance to place the measure on the November ballot.
A half-dozen people spoke in favor of the county’s new approach, including the shorter five-year lifespan for the tax measure.
“The public needs this short leash for accountability,” said John Bly, executive vice president of the Northern California Engineering Contractors Association.
Officials said the cost for the special election next summer would range from $400,000 to $600,000. Public outreach for community meetings and brochures is expected to cost an additional $60,000.
If approved, the sales tax measure would generate $20 million per year, shared between the county and its nine cities. The county’s portion would be $8.7 million per year. The county has pegged its road maintenance backlog at $268 million.
Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to retain 10 percent of the measure’s tax revenue for public transit if it passes. The board scrapped plans for an advisory measure that was to accompany the tax proposal, stating voters’ preference that the revenue go to roads.
Read more via Supervisors postpone road tax measure to June | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories TransportationTags ,

SMART gets $20 million for Larkspur ferry connection

Eric Gneckow, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

Efforts to connect the North Bay’s upcoming passenger rail system to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal took a major step forward Wednesday after a regional Bay Area transportation authority allocated what amounts to half of the necessary funds.

The $20 million award from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which redirects a pool of bridge toll funding once slated for a discarded highway interchange project between the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge and Highway 101, is the most significant boost yet for the proposed southernmost stretch of Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit.

SMART is currently planning to begin service on a nearly 40-mile segment between Santa Rosa and San Rafael, a stretch expected to account for the majority of passenger volume in the system. Yet the Larkspur extension remains a priority, with those MTC funds raising the likelihood for additional federal grants and the possibility of a ferry connection at or near the expected start of rail service in 2016.

via SMART gets $20 million for Larkspur ferry connection – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.

Posted on Categories TransportationTags , , Leave a comment on Pressure mounts on County to dump Veolia as operator of Sonoma County Transit

Pressure mounts on County to dump Veolia as operator of Sonoma County Transit

Alastair Bland, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN

Pressure is growing in communities around the world against Veolia Transdev, the worldwide industrial solutions firm based in France, clouded in political and environmental controversy and currently the operator of Sonoma County’s public bus line.

But the 25-year contract that gives the France-based giant several million dollars each year to operate the Sonoma County Transit bus fleet will come to an end in mid-2014, and local activists aligned against the company due to its support of Israel’s presence in Palestine want the county to part ways with Veolia.

via Bus Stop | News | North Bay Bohemian.

Posted on Categories TransportationTags Leave a comment on County, Santa Rosa bus services start online tracking system

County, Santa Rosa bus services start online tracking system

Melody Karpinski, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Upgrades planned to Sonoma County Transit and Santa Rosa CityBus could make running errands and commuting a little easier for bus riders this summer.

Both transit agencies are planning to implement real-time arrival and departure notification systems over the course of the next several months.

Sonoma County Transit’s system will allow users to check arrival status on their smartphones, laptops, handheld devices and at shelter kiosks, according to an agency report for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

via County, Santa Rosa bus services start online tracking system | PressDemocrat.com.

Posted on Categories Land Use, TransportationTags , , Leave a comment on Guerneville Road SMART Station Plan goes to the Planning Commission

Guerneville Road SMART Station Plan goes to the Planning Commission

Santa Rosa Planning Commission: Thursday, May 24, 4:00 pm
Santa Rosa City Council Chambers, 100 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa
After months of public meetings and workshops, the Guerneville Road SMART Station Area Plan will be up for a vote at the Santa Rosa Planning Commission on Thursday. One important piece currently included in the plan is the bike/pedestrian bridge over Hwy 101 connecting the Santa Rosa Junior College on the east to Coddingtown and the SMART station on the west.  For information about other issues and comments on the Plan see the following evaluation by Greenbelt Alliance.
http://www.greenbelt.org/general/santa-rosa-planning-commission-to-vet-the-plan-for-smart-station-at-guerneville-road/

Posted on Categories TransportationTags Leave a comment on Santa Rosa Short-Range Transit Plan Meetings: May 21 & May 22

Santa Rosa Short-Range Transit Plan Meetings: May 21 & May 22

The City of Santa Rosa Transit Division will be holding a first round of public outreach meetings for the 2012 Short-Range Transportation Plan (SRTP), which is updated every few years. The SRTP is a planning and funding document that will guide Santa Rosa CityBus for the next five to 10 years. All are invited to attend one or both of the two initial outreach meetings.  Details of the meetings are in the attached flyer. There will be a second round of SRTP outreach meetings in the late summer.
Spanish and English versions of the flyer are attached.
Please contact Richard Marcus, Transit Planner, at (707) 543-3334 or at rmarcus@srcity.org with questions.
 It’s very important that CityBus create plans for expansion as well as contraction – or contraction will be the only path possible!  
Enviro Updates