Despite some support from the state budget this year, Bay Area’s transit providers still face an almost $2B operating gap in the coming years. That’s why TransForm sponsored SB 532, the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Bay Area Public Transportation Emergency Act, a temporary hike in Bay Area bridge tolls, which would have provided stop-gap funding for the next five years. That would have given Bay Area transit operators the bridge they needed to sustain vital transit service in advance of a 2026 regional transportation measure.
Unfortunately, SB 532 has become a two-year bill, moving agencies like BART closer to a fiscal cliff that could mean drastic cuts in service. But we’re not giving up this critical fight for the future of transit.
The fight continues in 2024
When a measure becomes a two-year bill, it won’t move forward until the next legislative session, which will begin in a few months. That will give us a chance to address outstanding concerns that SB 532, which would have created a temporary $1.50 increase in bridge tolls, would place an unequal burden on commuters from parts of the Bay Area poorly served by transit who are forced to drive. TransForm developed strong equity provisions in the bill, and we will ensure they remain in place.
In the meantime, SB 532’s sponsors, Scott Wiener and Lori Wilson, will convene discussions among local stakeholders to address the transit fiscal cliff. TransForm and our allies will continue to lead the way to secure immediate funding for transit.
Moving transit onto solid ground
In the face of a growing climate crisis, we should be expanding public transit, not shrinking it. If transit loses capacity due to budget shortfalls, it will be more expensive to rebuild and might not come back. Declining service could send local agencies into a death spiral, with ridership declining as service grows increasingly spotty.
In addition to our work on short-term transit funding, we are working toward a long-term sustainable future for public transit that provides fast, reliable, safe, and equitable throughout the Bay Area. TransForm co-leads the Voices for Public Transportation Coalition, a group of community, equity, and labor advocates working to pass a regional transportation measure in 2026.
TransForm is committed to supporting robust, well-funded public transit systems in the Bay Area and throughout California. We hope you’ll join us.