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  • Writer's pictureZack Deutsch-Gross

Advocates Rally for Regional Transportation Measure

Advocates from TransForm, Voices for Public Transportation (VPT), and other allies showed up in Sacramento on April 23 to urge passage of the Connect the Bay Bill, SB 1031, and the Senate Transportation Committee passed the measure with a strong majority. The bill is a crucial step in authorizing a regional funding mechanism to ensure the health of the Bay Area’s public transportation systems and our streets and roads.

Thank you to everyone who came in person to the committee hearing. Your strong show of support sent a message to legislators and will help us achieve our goal of passing a robust funding measure to support public transit.

The Connect the Bay Bill also passed the Revenue and Taxation Committee; it moves next to Appropriations before going to a vote on the full Senate floor. As the bill moves through the legislature, TransForm and our allies continue to apply pressure to ensure we get a strong and progressive measure to put before Bay Area voters.

Last minute amendments

The bill was amended in committee to set a goal of raising $1.5 billion annually. This amount is the minimum needed to increase transit service and biking and walking, so this is a positive development. 

Another amendment sets a limit on a sales tax as a possible funding mechanism to no more than half a cent. We have advocated for other funding mechanisms because sales taxes are regressive, placing the burden most heavily on people with the least means, but sales taxes are the most common funding source for measures like this. The limit on the amount of potential sales tax means that other options for raising the needed revenue must be considered, and we support that.

The bill is authorizing legislation to allow the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to place this before the voters in 2026. Bill language now limits MTC to placing one measure on the ballot, which is in alignment with our goals.

What we’re still fighting for

In May, MTC will discuss whether funding from this measure can be used to fund highway expansion. We are advocating for the bill to prohibit funds from being used for highway widening projects, which take funds from much-needed roadway repairs and move us in the wrong direction on climate change.

At the moment, the measure dedicates a minimum of 45% of the funding to public transit. We are concerned this isn’t enough to save and expand transit and are in ongoing discussions with MTC and legislators to increase the amount allocated to transit.

Next stops for regional transportation

MTC will hold hearings on the content of the Connect the Bay Bill on May 10 and May 22. We’ll be asking supporters to come to the hearings in person in San Francisco or submit comments; look for opportunities to do that coming soon. 

In the legislature, SB 1031 goes next to the Senate Appropriations Committee in mid-May and then a vote of the full Senate in late May. We will be advocating fiercely for this measure, and we’ll need you to contact your legislators in support.

In the meantime, please send a letter to the MTC Commissioners to urge them to fund transit, not highways.


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