MTC Supports Increased Funding for Climate Change Education

The Administration Committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted on June 8 to reauthorize funding for the Spare the Air Youth (STAY) program, while directing MTC staff to pursue ways to increase funding even further.


Tommy Bensko of the Bay Area Bike Mobile, and Kerri Heusler of Street Smarts Diablo 511 Contra Costa


STAY provides education on climate change and active transportation to Bay Area youth, including family bicycle workshops, mobile repair of bicycles in schools, high school Safe Routes to School, an annual youth and sustainability conference, and more. An evaluation found that STAY succeeded in reaching more than 30,000 students throughout the region, repairing more than 7,000 bicycles, and leading to a 22% average mode shift.

The program began with $3 million in 2009, and there was concern MTC would not continue any of the funding. Finally, a proposal was put forth by MTC staff to continue funding for a subset of grantees at $660,000 – a massive cut.

Bay Area organizations including the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, East Bay Bike, the Bay Area Bike Mobile, Ybike, the Center for Climate Protection, and 511 Contra Costa joined the National Partnership in providing testimony to the committee in support of the program.

The testimony made a significant impact. Virtually every commissioner present including MTC Chair Dave Cortese, Jason Baker, Mark Luce, Amy Rein Worth, Jake Mackenzie, Dorene M. Giacopini, and Scott Haggerty spoke in favor of expanded funding for the program. Scott Wiener moved to adopt the proposal with the direction of committee chair Adrienne Tissier that staff identify funding sources to increase the program. MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger expressed that he would work to find ways to address the commissioners’ sentiments. Advocates will work with MTC on continued progress to support vital non-infrastructure programs such as this.

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