Regional Transportation Revenue Measure
MTC proposes to sponsor a transportation revenue measure that would appear on the ballot in all nine Bay Area counties in 2026. If approved by voters, tax dollars would help meet the Bay Area's need for a world class transportation network.
MTC in January 2024 voted to pursue legislation in Sacramento in 2024 that would enable Bay Area voters to consider a tax measure as early as November 2026. Legislators, and MTC staff and commissioners, will consider several options for generating revenue. These may include a sales tax, an income tax, a payroll tax, a parcel tax, a vehicle registration surcharge or a regional vehicle-miles traveled charge.
Goals of the Regional Transportation Measure
The revenue measure’s core goal is to advance a climate-friendly transportation system in the Bay Area that is safe, accessible and convenient for all. Focus areas include:
- Protect and enhance transit service. Ensure that current resources are maintained and used effectively; and enhance service frequency and areas served.
- Make transit faster, safer and easier to use. Create a seamless and convenient Bay Area transit system that attracts more riders by improving public safety on transit; implementing the Bay Area Transit Transformation Action Plan; and strengthening regional network management.
- Enhance mobility and access for all. Make it safer and more accessible for people of all ages and abilities to get to where they need to go. Preserve and improve mobility for all transportation system users, including people walking, biking and wheeling.
Proposed Expenditure Categories
- Transit transformation: sustain, expand and improve transit service for both current and future riders; accelerate customer-focused initiatives from the Bay Area Transit Transformation Action Plan and other service improvements that are high priorities for Bay Area voters and riders; and help fund the transition to zero-emission transit.
- Safe streets: transform local streets and roads to support safety, equity and climate goals, including through pothole repair, investments in bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure, safe routes to transit and other safety enhancements.
- Connectivity: fund mobility improvements that close gaps and relieve bottlenecks in the existing transportation network in a climate-neutral way.
- Climate resilience: fund planning, design and/or construction work that protects transportation infrastructure and nearby communities from rising sea levels, flooding, wildfires and extreme heat.
MTC staff recommend raising at least $1 billion to $2 billion per year for robust investments in safe streets and other capital improvements, to improve and expand transit service, and to help Bay Area transit agencies operate their services.
The Bay Area needs a world-class, reliable, affordable, efficient and connected transportation network that meets the needs of Bay Area residents, businesses and visitors while also helping combat the climate crisis; a public transit network that offers safe, clean, frequent, accessible, easy-to-navigate and reliable service, getting transit riders where they want and need to go safely, affordably, quickly and seamlessly; local roads are well maintained; and transit, biking, walking and wheeling are safe, convenient and competitive alternatives to driving; enhancing access to opportunity, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the region’s economy and improving quality of life.
Transportation Measure Highlights
This measure reflects feedback from Commissioners, key legislative leaders and other stakeholders, including:
- Improving transit coordination by strengthening MTC's role as regional transit network manager;
- A focus on Bay Area Transit Transformation Action Plan (TAP) action items and other customer
facing policies that would benefit from a regional approach, such as ambassadors to assist riders
and support a safe atmosphere;
- Flexibility in the amount of revenue requested, as well as the way that funding could be generated;
- Flexibility in spending priorities as the region’s needs evolve with time; and
- The “North Star” vision statement, which includes greenhouse gas emission-reduction tools, such as:
- A Transportation Demand Management mandate that encourages Bay Area employees to commute to work in ways other than driving to work alone; and
- A limitation on how money could be spent on highway-widening projects.
Potential Source of Funding
MTC staff recommend the "menu" of revenue options below, subject to a maximum rate, and an allowance for revenue options to be pursued sequentially over time:
- Sales tax
- Income tax
- Payroll tax
- Square footage-based parcel tax
- Bay Area-specific vehicle registration surcharge with tiered rates based on the value of the vehicle
- Regional vehicle miles traveled (VMT) charge
Delivering on Rider-Focused Outcomes
MTC staff recommend that the language of the Regional Transportation Revenue Measure give MTC the responsibility for setting policies that will prioritize the user experience.
With that responsibility, MTC could withhold delivery of funding to transit operators if they do not comply with Transit Transformation Action Plan standards related to:
- Fare payment (how fares are paid)
- Fare integration (fare transfers, discounts, passes, etc.)
- Schedule coordination
- Mapping & wayfinding (signage that makes transit more accessible and recognizable across the region)
- Real time information
- Other customer-facing operating policies that would benefit from a regional approach, including safety and workforce development