Happy Transit Month
September is Bay Area Transit Month, a time we celebrate the vital role public transportation has in our lives and our economy. I marked the occasion by joining San Francisco Transit Riders today for a ride-along on Muni from West Portal to Civic Center.
This year's commemoration is worth noting because the state Legislature stepped up to save the Bay Area's transit agencies, as they faced a "fiscal cliff." The problem, a combination of declining fare revenue and the end of federal pandemic funding, could have resulted in significant operational cuts as early as this summer and would have impacted commuters and lower-income Californians without cars.
But all that was avoided for now because we allocated $5.1 billion in state funding to cover the transit systems for four years. I'm especially glad the accountability measures I pushed for were in the final budget bill enacted. Highlights include:
- Transit operators must submit a short-term financial plan and data
- No additional funding after four years unless the Transportation Agency approves a long-term financial plan
- A Transit Transformation Task Force shall develop policy recommendations by the end of 2025 on ways to grow ridership and improve the customer experience, including seamless transfers between the Bay Area's 27 transit agencies
As Assembly Budget Chair, a key priority of mine is to improve ridership experience by ensuring concerns over safety, cleanliness, and reliability are addressed. I hope these changes will soon bring riders back.
In the meantime, our short-term efforts buy us time, and transit services are running. The organization, San Francisco Transit Riders, has many events throughout the region to celebrate Bay Area Transit Month, including rides, hikes, and daytrips. You might also use public transportation to check out the Seventh Annual Richmond District Autumn Moon Festival I am co-hosting this Saturday, September 9. Please join the fun.
Safe, reliable and clean public transportation must continue to be part of our lives, especially since it keeps our economy strong and helps us meet our climate goals by providing car-free options to travel.