Arrow Targets Improved Intercity Rail Experience

Arrow train at station

Metrolink’s new Arrow service is turning heads. The nine-mile expansion to the regional rail network features state-of-the-art Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) carriages. The project was funded and constructed by the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority and was launched by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (which operates Metrolink). But the Arrow is different than the …

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CALCOG Focus on Equity

CALCOG just completed a year-long equity training for over 100 participants from 20 member agencies, CALTRANS, and the California Transportation Commission. CALCOG is always looking for innovative and effective ways to support our members. The role of regional governments is complex and ever changing. The challenges we address impact the economic, environmental, and social(equity) health …

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I-880 Express Lanes now more affordable for low-income travelers

woman holds fast track device

(CALCOG Note:  This article is reprinted with permission from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. We feature it here as an example of a pilot program studying an issue of import to California: as our car fleet electrifies, how do we re-price the use of the roads in a way that accounts for disproportional impacts on low …

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Broadening Accountability for SCS Implementation

Who should be accountable when it appears a Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) will not achieve the target set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB)? Most believe the answer is obvious: It should be the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) that adopted the SCS. But we think differently. Our answer is: “it depends.” Here’s why. Although MPOs …

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Toolbox Tuesday: More Than A Catchy Name

Toolbox Tuesday Graphic: Tune in for TA

One often-overlooked service that regional agencies offer successfully is providing technical assistance to their members (cities and counties) on a wide variety of topics. Regional governments provide a natural forum for information sharing because their members often share similar needs and issues. As a result, the technical training can be tailored to address the most important issues facing a region.

SCAG’s Toolbox Tuesday workshops are a great example.

Toolbox Tuesdays provide a quick, one-and-a-half-hour focus on a single subject. The sessions are planned at a level that a variety of people—including elected officials, local planners, community organizations, students, and community members—can gain practical skills and knowledge on timely planning issues. Offering this training virtually and free of cost provides all local jurisdictions access to high-quality training and technical assistance.

As SCAG staff pointed out, planning is one of the only fields/professions where you are sharing work and ideas in hopes of others stealing your ideas. Toolbox Tuesday is a great example of how to build regional capacity and support member agencies on planning activities that support regional goals.

Toolbox Tuesday works because:

SCAG Invests the Prep Time.

SCAG hosts Toolbox Tuesdays monthly. There is ongoing staff time to organize sessions and topics, get speakers, prepare presentations, keep the website up-to-date, and communications support and marketing. Sessions are coordinated by presenters, moderators, and technical support staff. The surging attendance indicates SCAG’s member agencies and partners value the program.

Toolbox Tuesday is a great example of how to build regional capacity and support member agencies on planning activities that support regional goals.

It’s (mostly) Virtual and Free.

Toolbox Tuesday training sessions have been offered since 2017, when they were held in person. However, the series really took off when it began to transition to virtual in 2019 going fully virtual in 2020. The online format has allowed SCAG to reach a bigger and broader audience as well as tap into a wider range of presenters. The cost-free trainings and potential for AICP credits coupled with innovative planning topics help boost attendance.

It’s Collaborative.

Toolbox Tuesday facilitates greater collaboration between SCAG and its members. The sessions themselves aim to provide a collaborative environment for sharing best practices and tools. Sessions allow members to learn from each other about the successes and nuances of policies. As a result, trainings often equip local government planners to think beyond their traditional roles and respond to new challenges that require collaboration and public participation.

It’s Timely.

Topics are carefully curated to ensure SCAG meets the needs of its members. This year, for example, one session each quarter has an intentional equity focus. Other recent topics have included: Accessory Dwelling Units, ArcGIS Story Mapping, SB 379 Compliance. Additionally, the SCAG Local Information Services Team is available to provide personalized, one-on-one technical assistance to local cities and counties on the topics covered at Toolbox Tuesday.

Planning is one of the only fields where you share work in the hope that others will steal your ideas.

And There’s that Catchy Name.

Though the catchy name adds to the program’s appeal, the substantive information in these sessions is the true attention-keeper. The Federal Highway Administration noted the program in SCAG’s recent re-certification process, saying, “The review team appreciates the continuance of this platform as an excellent opportunity for interested stakeholders to learn and discuss transportation planning related themes.”

Recent Toolbox Tuesday Topices
– Equity In Action: Developing Equity Tools
– SB 379 Compliance: Resources for Local Jurisdictions
– Census and American Community Survey Data
– Smart Growth Financing and Funding
– Innovative Parking Solutions

To learn more about Toolbox Tuesday, watch previous sessions or join future a session, check out SCAG’s website.

AB 285 Report: Five Initial Observations

There are probably 285 things we could say about the AB 285 report. Some positive, others critical.  But that would be a really boring read, so here are our initial five thoughts: Quick Background: What Is an AB 285 Report? The AB 285 Report (technically, the Transporation Assessment Report) is a review of the CTP …

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SCAG Awards $7 Million for Last Mile Freight Electrification

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is awarding grants totaling $6.75 million to six projects across the region designed to promote clean transportation and reduce harmful emissions during last-mile freight and delivery operations. The six are in addition to 26 clean-energy projects that were awarded a total of $10 million late last year under …

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Bay Area’s Regional Housing Technical Assistance Program

The first iteration of the Regional Early Action Program (REAP) provided funding for the councils of governments (COGs) responsible for developing the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) to accelerate and support housing planning.  It was the regional counterpart to the Local Early Action Program (LEAP), which were distributed directly to cities and counties. While most REAP …

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VMT Reduction Recipe for ARB

We are guessing not many of you read the latest version of the Mobile Source Strategy. We read it because it begins to show how the California Air Resources Board (ARB) will approach reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the Scoping Plan and how ARB may set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets under Senate Bill …

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OC Streetcar Draws on Historic Past to Serve Today’s Riders

Old Street Car, Proposed Street Car

One hundred years ago, Southern California had the largest electric streetcar system in the world.  Red and yellow streetcars connected Southern California, including Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties.  Over the years, however, competition from automobiles and freeways led to their decline. By the 1950s, nearly all the streetcars were gone. Now, the …

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