Climate Initiatives Program | Plans + Projects | Our Work

Climate Initiatives Program

Forty percent of the Bay Area’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by transportation, with exhaust from cars and trucks the biggest single source.

The goal of MTC's Climate Initiatives Program is to reduce the transportation sector's carbon footprint. The Climate Initiatives Program helps the Bay Area meet emissions-reduction targets set by state law and improve the health and vibrancy of the region for all its residents.

Pedestrians, bicyclists and a cable car all share the street space on Market Street.
Noah Berger
Pedestrians, bicyclists and transit vehicles all share street space in San Francisco's upper Market Street area.
Monday, April 22, 2019

From 2009, MTC has invested $80 million for innovative solutions to reducing transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:

  • Car Sharing — awarded six grants in 2014 to initiate or expand car sharing access in their communities.
  • Climate Initiative Innovative Grants — demonstrated a number of approaches to reduce transportation GHG emissions through eighteen projects. Learn more in this summary report.
  • Commuter Benefits Program — implemented a pilot program to use tax incentives to encourage more commuters to walk, bike, take transit, carpool, and vanpool to and from work. In September 2016, Governor Brown signed SB 1128 to make this pilot program permanent. Learn more about the program.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Activities — increased EV adoption rates through incentives to buy or lease, public test-drive events and expanding the network of charging stations.
  • Spare the Air Youth & Safe Routes to Schools — increased the number of children walking or biking to school. Read more about this program's efforts.
  • Smart Driving — conducted two pilot studies to evaluate the impacts of real-time driving in-vehicle devices, smartphone apps and educational outreach on driver behavior and fuel economy. Visit the Smart Driving page.
  • Vanpooling — provided online passenger and driver matching, employer outreach, $500 start-up fee incentives, free bridge tolls and other incentives since 1981. 

In 2015, MTC added $22 million to the Climate Initiatives Program to develop and carry out additional programs, including:

  • Car Sharing — expanding car sharing to more communities and exploring all service models, including round trip, one-way and peer-to-peer trips. MTC developed a Bay Area Carsharing Implementation Strategy to guide actions over the next few years.
  • Targeted Transportation Alternatives — using campaigns and encouragement programs to change individual travel behavior from driving alone to using sustainable modes, such as walking, biking, riding transit, carpooling, vanpooling and car sharing, for all types of trips.
  • Trip Caps — reducing drive-alone trips through local policy assistance.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure and Incentives — encouraging EV adoption through incentives to buy or lease, public test-drive events and expanding the charging station network.

Plan Bay Area 2040 directs $526 million to the regional Climate Initiatives Program, $56 million for incentivizing higher levels of carpooling and $212 million for county-sponsored initiatives.

MTC collaborated with city and county governments as well as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and other regional agencies to develop, implement and refine the Climate Initiatives Program. Project sponsors receiving Climate Initiatives Program funds include:

  • Alameda County Transportation Commission
  • Alameda County Waste Management Authority
  • Bay Area Air Quality Management District
  • City CarShare
  • City of Berkeley
  • City of Napa
  • City of Santa Rosa
  • Kashia Band of Pomo Indians
  • Port of Oakland
  • SamTrans
  • San Francisco County Transportation Authority
  • Solano Transportation Authority
  • Sonoma County Transportation Authority
  • Transportation Authority of Marin

Funding for the Climate Initiatives Program comes primarily through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program.

Additional support comes from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Transportation Fund for Clean Air.