The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which oversees the Bay Area’s transit agencies, will hold a final vote on language for the new regional transit funding measure at its next meeting on January 24, 2024, starting at 9:35 am.
Why the regional transportation funding measure is vital
The Bay Area’s providers were hit especially hard by the pandemic, and the funding structures of the past aren’t sufficient for the future. Although the governor’s recent draft budget spares transit from the worst cuts, we can’t rely on state funding to shore up holes in transit agency budgets. Bay Area transit providers need a stable, long-term revenue source that allows them to not only continue current service levels but also provide more reliable, more frequent trains and buses, making public transit a convenient and attractive option for more trips. That’s what the regional transportation funding measure will do.
The measure would create a dedicated funding stream for transit through a regional tax. Voters need to approve the new tax, probably in 2026, but first, the California Legislature needs to pass authorizing legislation, allowing the funding measure to be placed on the ballot. That’s what we’re working on this year.
Help us transform the way we fund transit
As part of Voices for Public Transportation (VPT), TransForm policy advocates have been meeting with MTC to influence the drafting of the measure, which is critical to securing funding for public transit that truly serves all Bay Area residents. This measure is about more than dollars and cents; it will shape the future of our regional transportation systems, affecting congestion, livability, affordability, and our response to the climate crisis.
So far, we are pleased with our collaboration and with the draft measure, and we appreciate the willingness of MTC staff to listen to the agency’s constituencies and incorporate feedback. Recent drafts have aimed to raise $2 billion in additional funding annually and include progressive funding sources among the funding options, both goals VPT has championed.
However, we’re hearing that MTC wants to allow highway widening as part of the measure. TransForm joined with other concerned transit and environmental advocates to send a letter to the MTC outlining our concerns that freeway widening:
Promotes higher levels of automobile use and, consequently, contributes to increased greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, noise pollution, and traffic hazards, which often disproportionately affect communities of color, people with limited incomes, seniors, and children.
Draws riders away from public transit, resulting in reduced political support and fare revenue for transit agencies.
Redirects funds toward road infrastructure that would otherwise be available for vital needs such as transit operations, expanding transit services, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements, safer streets, and incentives for sustainable transportation choices.
Fails to solve the congestion problems that motivate such investments.
Pressure can come from a variety of stakeholders, and there’s no guarantee the final language that goes to the ballot in November will include all the elements necessary to create the world-class public transit systems we need. That’s why we need as many voices as possible in support of progressive funding sources to bring in $2 billion per year for transit, not freeways.
Please comment on the regional transit funding measure. You can submit a comment online, attend the January 24, 2024 meeting via Zoom, or attend in person in San Francisco.
You can join on Zoom or attend in person at the Bay Area Metro Center, 375 Beale Street, San Francisco. The meeting will be held in the Board Room on the 1st Floor.
If you can’t attend virtually or in person, you can submit a public comment by email to email@example.com. Submit your comment before 5 pm on January 23. Use the subject line: “Comment for Metropolitan Transportation Commission Meeting, 1/24/24, Regional Transit Funding Measure.” Here’s suggested text for an email comment:
Thank you for including no rate caps so the measure can raise the needed $2 billion annually. I strongly support the inclusion of progressive revenue sources.
I believe the legislation can be improved by setting aside a significant minimum amount of funding for transit operations in order to maintain and increase transit service and oppose including highway widening in the measure.”
Feel free to add your own comments. Sharing your public transit journey and why a thriving transit system is vital to your well-being is a terrific way to remind the commissioners of the effect their decisions have on people’s lives.
This measure is vital to creating and supporting a transportation system that will serve all communities while reducing congestion and VMT.