Mobility for All Virginians

Fighting for Transportation That Works For Everyone

Transportation is vital. High-quality, reliable public transit service is essential for Virginians to access their jobs, schooling, healthcare, education, and shopping needs. Yet it’s often expensive and inaccessible in the places that need it most. And it’s Virginia’s biggest single source of greenhouse gases and other toxic pollutants — for which low-income communities are most likely to face the consequences. 

We believe that we can transform Virginia’s transit sector from a major cause of climate change to part of the solution, while improving social justice at the same time. 

We need to rethink housing, our city layouts, the vehicles we drive, and our transit infrastructure. It’s time to say YES to electric vehicles, especially large fleets. And it’s time to say YES to fostering communities where people can walk, ride free public transit and reduce the overall vehicle miles traveled. It’s time for Mobility for All. 

CCAN’s Approach: Reduce Vehicle Miles, Electrify

We’re aiming to transform our transportation sector with a two-pronged approach:

  1. First, reduce the number of “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT).
  2. Second, transition the Commonwealth’s vehicles from gas to electric.

To reduce VMT, CCAN wades into the world of local zoning, confusing acronyms and overlapping planning responsibilities. This work happens at local county boards, regional transit authorities and in the statehouse. We have lots of work to do to ensure Virginians have access to affordable housing and transportation options. 

To get more Virginians in electric vehicles, CCAN champions crucial legislation and connects people already driving clean cars with their elected representatives. 

Environmental justice is central to the why and how of our mobility for all campaign. Layers of oppression have been baked into the structure of how we live and move through our neighborhoods. Predominantly Black communities face a higher risk of premature death from particle pollution than whites do. This is due to the long-lasting effects of racialized housing policies, which resulted in greater exposure to things like busy, dirty highways. Specifically, Richmond neighborhoods redlined in the 1930s remain some of the hottest in the city today with little tree cover–leaving residents more susceptible to negative health outcomes. And highways that bisect poor communities like Route 1 disproportionately expose residents to harmful air pollution from cars and shipping.

Reducing VMT with Walkable, Affordable and Healthy Communities

When it comes to the climate crisis, the single worst contributor in the commonwealth that has the largest impact per ton of emissions are light-duty passenger vehicles. The easiest way to reduce vehicles miles is to get Virginians out of their cars. This means making public transit more affordable and accessible, as well as creating bikeable and walkable communities. 

But currently, many communities have little to no access to public transportation. In 2018, riders of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) had to deal with 18,653 scheduled buses that never showed up. And two of our state’s biggest bus systems—HRT and the Greater Richmond Transit Company—were ranked two of the three worst-funded public transit systems in the country per capita.

 The mobility options available for Virginians are heavily shaped by regional bodies and municipal boards. However, not many residents know how to engage in these processes. As advocates, we demystify the decision-making processes and provide clear ways for residents to make their voices heard. We’re currently working with coalition partners to:

  • Push for Mobility for All in NoVA. County supervisors and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority heavily influence where highways are built and where affordable housing is located throughout Northern Virginia. However, these decisions are often made years in advance with minimal public input. We connect residents to their decision makers and push for policies that will reduce carbon emissions while prioritizing affordable housing, connected communities and free public transit.  
  • Establish a Rider’s Council for Richmond. We believe that the only way to push for effective and equitable public transportation is by privileging the voices of its most frequent users. That’s why we, through the Virginia Walkability Action Institute, are teaming up with RVA Rapid Transit, the only mass transit advocacy group in the Commonwealth, to set a foundation for a Rider’s Council. By building up a local base and supplying structure and resources, CCAN hopes to ensure a democratic participation in our decision making around how we get around Richmond.

Clean Vehicles for All

To support transitioning to clean vehicles, CCAN has already taken important legislative steps. In 2021, Virginia adopted Clean Car standards, which sets out clean standards for new vehicles and joins Virginia to the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program to increase the number of EVs sold in Virginia. Despite clear consumer demand for electric vehicles, many dealerships in the Commonwealth simply don’t carry them. This means that in previous years Virginians have either had to settle for gas powered cars or travel across state borders to purchase EVs — resulting in lost revenue for Virginia businesses. This will soon change.

But we have more to do. Many communities still don’t have accessibility or funds to purchase electric vehicles. 

Currently, we are building on this success to broaden the amount and scope of who has access to an electric vehicle. We continue to advocate for policies and programs that expand purchasing options for used electric vehicles. We also support policies that allow state fleet managers to make the most fiscally responsible decision for their range of vehicles. An overwhelming majority of the time, evaluating on the lifetime cost of the vehicle means that an EV will be cheaper!

Local fights

  • Route 1 Richmond Highway-For decades, Gum Springs residents have protested the car centric design of Richmond Highway. Recent activism has combined with a county planning process to design walkable communities. With the spotlight on Route 1, CCAN works with the Fairfax Healthy Communities Coalition to connect residents with decision makers holding multiple public engagement processes. 
  • Brown Grove Wegman’s Distribution Center-Brown Grove residents already disproportionately impacted by environmental racism content that Wegman’s decision to place a multi-state distribution center in their community cannot stand. CCAN is supporting these public engagement and regulatory efforts to stop this proposal. Similar to the location of many fossil fuel infrastructure projects, this distribution center would bring air pollution, environmental harm, and carbon emissions to a Black community. 

Take Action

Want to get involved? Sign up to volunteer with CCAN, or reach out to zander@chesapeakeclimate.org if you have questions.