Key changes needed in 'Plan Bay Area' to address equity, transit, and more

Clarrissa Cabansagan Headshot

As we reported in our last blog post, advocates and advisory committee members came out in droves to the June 10th joint meeting of the MTC Planning Committee and ABAG Administrative Committee to request a long list of improvements to MTC staff's proposed Alternative Scenarios. Elected officials responded by asking that staff respond with changes.

Unfortunately, staff's response was to issue a report on June 16, which although very detailed, makes no changes to the proposed scenarios. We feel this is an inadequate response to the numerous suggestions from the agencies' decision-makers and advisory groups, as well as public stakeholders and advocates. The most important points from TransForm's June 9th letter still apply.

At Wednesday's joint meeting of the MTC Commission/ABAG Administrative Committee, TransForm suggests that the joint meeting make four major changes from staff's recommendation:

  • A. Study an equity-focused scenario, as suggested by numerous letters and comments to the 6/10 meeting (this was #4 from our June 9 letter). TransForm will sign-on to a new letter providing more details, and we will link to it here once the letter is final. 
  • B. Clarify how the transportation network modeled in all scenarios accounts for the region’s financial ability to operate and maintain the region’s whole transportation network. (This is #1 from our June 9 letter.) This means not just the ability to operate the transit system –- the focus of the Transit Sustainability Project and staff's June 16 response (#12 in their response) -– but also to maintain it. It also means recognizing the effect that maintenance shortfalls could have on the local streets network.
  • C. Include an Express Lane network, tailored to each scenario, that focuses on lane conversion and decreases transportation costs for low-income commuters through net revenues that support increased transit and vanpool service. (This was #3 from our June 9 letter.) There are two big problems with staff’s June 16 response on this point (#14 in their response):
    • First, staff has given out almost no information about the proposal they are compiling to bring to Planning Committee in September and secure CTC approval by 12/31. That's a big risk, as lack of consensus — or opposition — at the regional level could doom the CTC application. MTC staff should be letting the public into their thinking.
    • Second, the staff report makes no explicit mention of how an Express Lane network would be included in the scenario analysis. It does say that the project performance assessment will analyze the network proposed to CTC. But a good scenario analysis would tailor a different network for each scenario.
       
  • D. Do not decrease the region's commitment to a Fix it First approach in ANY scenario -- eliminate Transportation Option #5. (This was #6 in our June 9th letter.) Staff's proposed Transportation Option #5 would redirect 10% of the region's funds ($20+ billion) away from maintenance and towards expansion. Since the region already had a $25 billion transit shortfall and $11 billion local roads shortfall, even with the last plan's commitment towards operations and maintenance (O&M), the idea of decreasing funds for O&M should be dead on arrival.

The joint MTC Commission/ABAG Administrative Committee will meet this Wednesday, June 22nd at 9:45 a.m. at MTC in Oakland.  Alternative Scenarios are Item 2 on the agenda.

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TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.