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State issues draft plan for freight system of the future

May 3, 2016

SACRAMENTO- State agency leaders today released the Draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, an ambitious document that lays a foundation for modernizing California’s multi-billion dollar freight transportation system.

Developed in response to Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-32-15, which calls for a single integrated action plan for California, the Draft Action Plan was drafted by the California State Transportation Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Agency, California Air Resources Board, California Department of Transportation, California Energy Commission and Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development with broad stakeholder input. 

The Executive Order directs the state agencies to pursue a shared vision to “improve freight efficiency, transition to zero-emission technologies and increase the competitiveness of California’s freight system.” Benefits include meeting the state’s freight infrastructure, public health, air quality and climate goals.

The Draft Action Plan responds to the Governor’s Executive Order by articulating one shared vision to improve the efficiency of California’s freight system while reducing its pollution, all the while bolstering the competitiveness of California’s goods movement system nationally and internationally.

Key components of the Action Plan include:

  • A long-term 2050 vision and guiding principles for California’s future freight transport system.
  • Targets for 2030 to guide the State toward meeting its long-term vision:
    • Improve freight system efficiency 25 percent by 2030.
    • Deploy over 100,000 zero-emission vehicles/equipment and maximize near-zero by 2020.
    • Foster future economic growth within the freight and goods movement industry. 
  • Identified opportunities to leverage State freight transport system investments. 
  • Actions to initiate over the next five years to make progress towards the Draft Action Plan’s vision and target. 
  • Pilot projects to achieve concrete progress in the near-term. 
  • Additional concepts for further exploration and potential development. 

"Future investments of public dollars in freight require a smart approach that accounts for both environmental stewardship and the need for new infrastructure to accommodate a growing freight sector,” said CalSTA Secretary, Brian P. Kelly. “While some may see these as competing priorities, this Draft Action Plan suggests we don't have to choose between these important objectives, but can achieve both through more prudent planning and investment. I look forward to perfecting the document with input from our many stakeholders in the days ahead."

Achieving the Draft Action Plan’s objectives will require strategic partnerships and well-coordinated investments in new technologies and major infrastructure upgrades. The plan provides an opportunity for leveraging new federal, State, local and private investment for these freight transport system improvements. 

California’s freight system is the most extensive and interconnected freight system in the United States and is composed of several deep water seaports, cargo airports, border crossings, and a vast warehousing and distribution sector, all connected by a network of over 11,000 miles of railroad track and Interstate and state highways. Each component is critical and the system depends on these interconnected facilities working in concert to move freight in and out of California to the rest of the nation and across the globe. California’s freight-dependent industries account for more than $740 billion in revenue and more than 5 million jobs in 2014.

"This is an unprecedented effort to partner with the freight sector to help bolster the competitiveness of California's freight industry," said Governor Brown’s senior jobs adviser Mike Rossi. "The freight sector has already invested heavily in modernization and the Action Plan helps advance those efforts while reducing emissions through commercially viable and affordable technologies." 

While freight transport in California is a major economic engine for the state, emissions from ships, harbor craft, trucks, locomotives, cargo equipment, aircraft and other freight participants account for about half of toxic diesel particulate matter (PM 2.5), 45 percent of the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) that form ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere, and 6 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in California. Many of these pollutants are emitted in close proximity to communities and pose health risks to nearby residents, highlighting the need for additional steps to protect public health.

“The draft we are releasing today represents an unprecedented collaboration among government agencies, in keeping with the importance of the freight sector to our economy and our environment,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “The plan commits to include all stakeholders at every step in the process, from refining goals and selecting pilot projects through implementation into the coming decade. Our challenge is to deliver both public health and economic benefits at our ports, on our highways, and in our communities throughout the state.”

The Draft Action Plan builds on existing State agency strategies, including the California Freight Mobility Plan, Sustainable Freight Pathways to Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Discussion Document and the Integrated Energy Policy Report. Broad stakeholder input provided over the past several months, including 11 workshops across the state, inform this Draft Action Plan.

The Draft Action Plan is available now for stakeholder and public feedback through July 6, 2016. Additionally, agency staff will present it as an informational item at public meetings of the California Freight Advisory Committee, the California Transportation Commission and California Air Resources Board in May.

“The Energy Commission is pleased to work in partnership with our sister agencies and engaged stakeholders across the state to develop this draft action plan,” said Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott. “Reducing pollution from the freight sector will help California to meet its clean air standards and climate goals.”

The Governor’s Executive Order on Sustainable Freight can be found at:

The Draft Action Plan is available for public review and comments at:

The State Agencies are requesting comments by July 6, 2016. Comments can be submitted electronically at:



April 22, 2016

SACRAMENTO- This morning the California Transportation Commission issued staff recommendations for cuts to the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).  The cuts are due to a crisis-level drop in gas tax revenue, further adding to the funding shortfall to fix our transportation infrastructure.  California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) Secretary Brian P. Kelly issued the following statement on the recommended cuts:

"The recommendation before the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to delete or delay some $1.5 billion in transportation projects underscores the reality that our current transportation funding system is broken.  Money to invest in transportation projects is declining as needs are growing.  The status quo does not serve California's economy or quality of life well.  These cuts cost us well-paying jobs and important mobility improvements.  The Governor's transportation budget proposal to re-invest in our roads, bridges and public transit would make the CTC's proposed cuts unnecessary.  It's time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and pass a comprehensive transportation funding plan."


Transit and Intercity Rail Capitol Program Generates Statewide Interest

April 14, 2016

SACRAMENTO-The Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) funds projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by expanding public transportation ridership and capacity. On February 5, 2016, the TIRCP began a Call for Projects for the second round of program grants with an application deadline of April 5.

This year’s Call for Projects resulted in 41 project applications for a total of $3.1 billion in requested funding. Currently, an estimated $449 million is available, primarily from auction proceeds from the Cap and Trade Program. It should also be noted that the Governor’s Budget proposes additional Cap and Trade auction proceeds and loan repayments to further increase the total amount available for this second round of program grants. The enthusiastic response to this year’s Call for Projects attests to TIRCP’s crucial role as a funding source to accomplish transformative projects that will modernize and integrate transit service.

Here is a list of project titles, requested amounts and total project costs from the applications received.

CalSTA anticipates announcing project selections around August 1, 2016.


Apply Now for Round Two of Transit & Intercity Rail Capital Program Grants

February 5, 2016, 2016

SACRAMENTO—The California State Transportation Agency is now accepting applications for the second round of Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program grants. Approximately $440 million is available from existing funds, and the Governor’s Budget proposes to add almost $900 million more, subject to funding availability. Competitive grants will be awarded to projects that make important climate investments in California’s transportation system, or projects that modernize and integrate the state’s transit and rail systems to increase ridership and reduce greenhouse gas emissions which lead to climate change.

“Last year we invested more than $220 million in transformative transit projects up and down the state,” said Brian Kelly, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency. “This is an important next step toward investing cap and trade funds for a more sustainable transportation system that helps Californians get around reliably and efficiently, while meeting our climate objectives.”

Eligible applicants include public agencies that operate existing or planned intercity rail, commuter passenger rail, urban rail transit, bus, ferry, or vanpool services. Applicants may also partner with other transit operators to provide better integrated service across two or more providers.

All projects must demonstrate that they will achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in order to be eligible. Grant recipients must also show benefits such as improved transit ridership, integration with other rail and transit systems, including high-speed rail, and improved rail safety. The program has a goal of providing at least 25 percent of benefits to disadvantaged communities in California, and last year more than 95 percent of project funds were awarded to projects that benefited disadvantaged communities.

Applications must be submitted electronically to by April 5, 2016. The Transportation Agency will announce the grant recipients later this summer.

In June of 2015, the Transportation Agency completed the first round of the Transit & Intercity Rail Grant Program, awarding $224 million to 14 transformative projects throughout California. You can see a list of those projects online here. Here’s what some of those awardees have to say:

“Metrolink is grateful for CalSTA’s investment in sustainable transportation,” said Metrolink CEO Art Leahy. “We are able to reduce our emissions by up to 85 percent through the purchase of new, state-of-the-art locomotives, which are being partially funded by Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program Grants.”

“CalSTA’s investment in public transit in increasingly populated cities like San Francisco allows more people to choose sustainable ways to get around and reduces carbon emissions across the region,” said Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. “The Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program is a critical new source of funding for our Muni light rail vehicle expansion program that will help us keep pace with the increasing demands for better, more reliable and greener public transit in San Francisco.”

In 2014, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 862, which established the Transit & Intercity Rail Capital Program. The program was then amended in 2015 by Senate Bill 9. It is one of several programs charged with using cap-and-trade auction proceeds to help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

The official Call for Projects, with detailed information about application requirements, is located here.

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