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  • Writer's picture Abibat Rahman-Davies

Losing SB 1031: Setback for Regional Transportation Measure, Not the End

Updated: Jun 14



Last week, Senators Scott Wiener and Aisha Wahab, authors of the Connect the Bay Bill, SB 1031, pulled the measure shortly after it passed the California Senate due to a growing list of local stakeholders not supporting the bill. While this is a setback and we are disappointed, we are not giving up on a measure to create a sustainable funding mechanism for Bay Area public transit.


The messy process of passing complex legislation


Plans for a new regional transportation measure have been in the works since the FASTER Bay Area initiative back in 2017. Following the pandemic and the development of the Bay Area Transit Transformation Action Plan, the region further aligned on the priorities for the bill, including addressing the fiscal cliff facing transit operators across the region.  


However, despite MTC’s initial concept for the bill being approved back in January, many additional elements were added to the bill, weakening support. These included a study on consolidating all 27 Bay Area transit agencies into a single Bay Area-wide provider, allowing funding for highway expansion from the new revenue stream, and a required transportation demand program for businesses. There were also disagreements about the distribution of funding among local stakeholders. 


Complex legislation like the Connect the Bay Bill often takes time. A successful regional transportation measure will need support from all the Bay Area legislators, the governor, transit agencies, MTC, labor unions, and advocates like Transform and VPT. We expect Senators Wiener and Wahab will reintroduce authorizing legislation again next year, with MTC convening a stakeholder process over the next few months to build regional consensus around the next version of the measure. 


Silver linings for a regional transportation measure


The end of SB 1031 is the beginning of the process for a bill next year, and it gives us more time to build a strong coalition around a recrafted measure. Transform and our allies will be examining what we’ve learned from the process so far and use that to help shape a funding mechanism with broad regional support. We’ll work to bring on allies from all sectors touched by regional transportation funding, including transit providers, labor unions, businesses, and industry. 


We will use the rest of this year to hold listening sessions, bridge gaps, talk with a wide range of stakeholders, and work with MTC to create a more robust process for moving the measure forward. So, while we worked hard on the Connect the Bay Bill and wish it had been able to move forward, there are some advantages to a fresh start for the regional transportation funding measure.


A new timeline


The legislative process is merely the first step in creating a stable funding source for Bay Area transportation. The measure will have to come before voters after it’s approved by the legislature, and we’re still on track to put it on the ballot in November 2026 as originally planned. 


During the next few months, we’ll participate in MTC stakeholder outreach and help develop a new proposal. We expect the MTC to vote on the new plan by the end of 2024, so we’ll have a bill with a solid coalition behind it to introduce in the 2025 legislative session. 


We’ll need your help — you can email MTC and attend hearings to make sure the voices in support of a robust public transit network are heard in the process. Our goal is to ensure a future of reliable and appealing public transit options that help more Bay Area residents get out of their cars.

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