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Community-Based Transportation Planning

Designing Travel Solutions
At the Local Level

MTC is taking a grass-roots approach to identifying barriers to mobility and working to overcome them. With its Community-Based Transportation Planning Program, MTC has created a collaborative planning process that involves residents in low-income Bay Area communities, community- and faith-based organizations that serve them, transit operators, county congestion management agencies (CMAs), and MTC.

Launched in 2002, the Community-Based Transportation Planning Program evolved out of two reports completed in 2001 — the Lifeline Transportation Network Report and the 2001 Regional Transportation Plan Environmental Justice Report.

The Lifeline Report identified basic travel needs in low-income Bay Area communities and recommended community-based transportation planning as a way for communities to set priorities and evaluate options for filling transportation gaps. Likewise, the Environmental Justice Report identified the need for MTC to support local planning efforts in low-income communities throughout the region.

Local Participation Is Key

The outcome of each MTC-sponsored planning process is a Community-Based Transportation Plan that includes locally identified transportation need, as well as solutions to address them. Each plan reflects the objectives of the program, which are to:

  • emphasize community participation in prioritizing transportation needs and identifying potential solutions;
  • foster collaboration between local residents, community-based organizations, transit operators, CMAs and MTC;
  • build community capacity by involving community-based organizations in the planning process.

Program Guidelines Lay the Groundwork

The guidelines for the Community-Based Transportation Planning Program serve as a blueprint for implementation. They specify that CMAs serve as the lead agency in each collaborative planning process, and that results of the Lifeline Report serve as the starting point for analyzing transportation gaps in each community.

Each completed Community-Based Transportation Plan contains:

  • demographic analysis of the area;
  • documented community outreach strategies with results;
  • a listing of community-prioritized transportation gaps and barriers;
  • a listing of strategies or solutions to address identified gaps;
  • a listing of potential funding sources for solution implementation;
  • identified stakeholders committed to implementing the plan.

Project findings are forwarded to applicable local or county-level policy boards, as well as to MTC, for consideration in planning, funding and implementation discussions. A full copy of the Community-Based Transportation Planning Program guidelines can be downloaded here.

Pilot Program Success

The Community-Based Transportation Planning Program began with pilot projects in five communities; plans were completed in 2004 in these areas:

  • South Hayward/Ashland/Cherryland (Alameda County)
  • Richmond/N. Richmond/Old Town San Pablo (Contra Costa County)
  • The city of Napa and surrounding communities (Napa County)
  • East Palo Alto (San Mateo County)
  • Dixon (Solano County)

As a result of the pilot program, several transportation strategies identified through the community planning process successfully competed for MTC’s Low-Income Flexible Transportation (LIFT) funding in late 2004.

Growing the Commitment

Following the successful completion of the pilot program in 2004, in 2005 MTC authorized planning to proceed in the remaining communities identified in the Community-Based Transportation Planning Program guidelines. A total of 25 low-income communities were identified in Phase One of the program; plans completed so far are listed in the box on this page.

Also in 2005, MTC expanded its financial commitment to improving mobility for the region’s low-income residents by launching the Lifeline Transportation Program, which significantly increased the amount of regional funding for which projects identified in Community Based Transportation Plans are eligible to compete. About half of the 39 projects funded through the FY05-FY08 cycle of the Lifeline Transportation Program were projects derived directly from completed Community Based Transportation Plans.

Phase Two Launches

In 2008, MTC approved Phase Two funding to complete an additional 18 plans for the remainder of the region’s 43 identified low-income communities of concern. Plans will be added to the list on this page as they are completed and adopted by their respective county agencies.


For more information about MTC’s Community-Based Transportation Planning Program, please contact Drennen Shelton, program manager, at (510) 817-5909 or