MTC has taken several actions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the continuing public health emergency, all in an effort to address the immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic on the Bay Area’s transportation network. These actions are described below.
Coronavirus Response and Relief Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) Funds Issued
In January 2021, MTC approved almost $180 million in CRRSAA funding to five Bay Area transit operators reeling from revenue losses due to steep ridership declines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The dollars compensate operators that received less CARES funding than they should have due to inaccurate revenue loss forecasts.
In the coming weeks MTC will work with the operators and other stakeholders to develop distribution scenarios for the approximately $803 million in CRRSAA funds that remain.
CARES Funds Received and Distributed
MTC received and distributed the roughly $1.3 billion in CARES Act funding for which Bay Area transit agencies were eligible. The allocation formula was developed through a partnership between MTC and transit agency staff, and the funds were distributed in April and July.
Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force
In May 2020, MTC created the 32-member Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force to guide the future of the Bay Area’s public transportation network as the region adjusts to new conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Task Force, chaired by MTC Commissioner and Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering, includes other local elected officials as well as advocates for people with disabilities; representatives from the state Senate and Assembly; the California State Transportation Agency; transit operators; business and labor groups; and transit and social justice advocates.
Riding Together: Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan
The Bay Area’s public transit agencies joined forces in the summer of 2020 to initiate research, study U.S. and international efforts, and review information from the American Public Transportation Association to develop common commitments and expectations for employees and passengers. From this work, the agencies developed the Riding Together: Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan.
Bay Area transit agencies established a Healthy Transit Plan Dashboard to monitor their performance in carrying out the Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan. While this plan emerged from the transit agencies’ work with the Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force organized by MTC in the spring of 2020, the transit agencies created this plan.
BATA Recovery Ad Hoc Working Group
In August 2020, the five-member BATA Recovery Ad Hoc Working Group was formed to assist the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) in understanding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on BATA toll bridges and approaches, as well as to guide BATA and Caltrans in addressing the impacts on bridge operations, maintenance and rehabilitation. The working group is chaired by MTC Commissioner and Orinda Mayor Amy Worth.
Public Meetings Conducted Online
In light of Gov. Newsom’s State of Emergency declaration regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and in accordance with Executive Order N-29-20 and Guidance for Gatherings issued by the California Department of Public Health, MTC Commission meetings as well as those of MTC affiliates are being conducted via webcast and teleconference. Members of the public are encouraged to watch remotely.
Anyone who wishes to address the Commission or one of its affiliated organizations on an item to be considered at an upcoming meeting are asked to submit comments in writing to email@example.com by 5:00 p.m. the evening prior to the meeting. Due to the current circumstances there may be limited opportunity to address comments during the meeting, but all comments will be entered into the record.
Operational Statistics Revised
MTC in October 2020 expanded the Operational Statistics report presented each month to the Commission to better reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Bay Area transportation system. Additions to the report include monthly vehicle-miles traveled across the nine-county region, and transit ridership trends as measured by the number of Clipper-paid trips on vehicles operated by Bay Area transit agencies. Review the latest snapshot of these operational statistics.
511 Provides Latest Information on Transit Service and Highway Operations
The Bay Area’s 511 traveler information system, operated by MTC, features a special alert section to provide the latest updates on transit service and highway operations. The COVID-19 emergency sharply has reduced travel around the Bay Area, and most of the region’s transit agencies have made temporary changes to their schedules and/or fare policies. Review travel updates at alert.511.org.
Cash Tolls on Bay Area Bridges Suspended
To minimize toll collectors’ and toll-paying customers’ risk of exposure to COVID-19, cash toll collection at the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges was suspended in March 2020. A new all-electronic toll collection system will go into operation at these bridges in January 2021. Please visit the Bay Area FasTrak website for more information about how to sign up for FasTrak, open a License Plate Account or make a one-time toll payment.
Bay Area Express Lanes “Open to All” During Public Health Emergency
On March 20, 2020, the Bay Area’s three Express Lane operators — the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission — jointly ceased Express Lane tolling. Tolling resumed on June 1, 2020, in response to increased congestion in the Express Lanes corridors.
Emergency Operations Center Activated
On March 16, 2020, MTC activated a virtual Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to assist with regional coordination amidst the COVID-19 national emergency. The EOC was activated relatively early in the pandemic in light of the rapidly changing environment and in anticipation of coming transit service adjustments. The EOC was deactivated at the end of May with the creation of the Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force.