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MTC, ABAG Take a Fresh Look at Equity Priority Communities

A SolTrans bus waits at the Vallejo Transit Center. The agency's Blue Line and Route 2 are just some of the Bay Area's many transit routes supported by public funds that provide for critical transportation services in equity priority communities.
Mark Jones

MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) today released a draft update to the Bay Area’s roster of Equity Priority Communities (EPCs). The agencies invite partners and technical stakeholders to provide comments, ask questions or offer other feedback about the updated draft EPC maps and related materials. The final update will be incorporated into Plan Bay Area 2050+, currently slated for adoption in fall 2025.

EPCs are designated census tracts with a significant concentration of underserved populations, such as households with low incomes and people of color. Leveraging the most recent American Community Survey (ACS) data (2018-2022), the 2024 Draft EPC Update identifies the geographies that would qualify a given census tract to be designated as an EPC moving forward.

By identifying which Bay Area communities are (or historically have been) underserved, MTC and ABAG can direct funding toward projects that promote more equitable access to transportation, housing and other services. The data also helps inform regional funding priorities and long-range planning efforts, including Plan Bay Area 2050+.

The designation of underserved Bay Area communities dates back to 2001, when MTC began using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s ACS to identify populations that may have historically faced disadvantage and underinvestment due to their background or socioeconomic status. MTC has continually refined the framework definition as part of updates to Plan Bay Area.

What’s changed?

Since the last update, census tract boundaries have changed due to shifts in population and development patterns. The 2024 Draft EPC Update includes recalculated thresholds of demographic variables that would qualify a census tract to be designated as an EPC. Though the overall number of EPCs in the nine-county region has increased, there has been a modest decline in the share of tracts identified as EPCs compared to the previous plan.

At a high level, most counties saw a decline in the share of EPCs, except for Marin County, which saw a moderate increase. Notably, all counties saw a decline in the share of low-income residents relative to Plan Bay Area 2050 analyses.

While the share of low-income residents declined, the region's racial diversity has continued to rise, consistent with previous EPC updates. Overall, the share of people of color in the region increased modestly from 58% to 61%.

What’s Next?

Staff are soliciting comments on the Draft 2024 EPC Update, which includes:

Partners and technical stakeholders, including local jurisdiction and Bay Area County Transportation Agency staff, are invited to weigh in on the proposed changes.

Those wishing to provide feedback on the Draft 2024 EPC Update and the proposed Equity Priority Communities Map are encouraged to do so at The comment deadline is Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Comments also may be submitted via email to using the subject line “EPC Update.”

Comments, questions and clarifications will be responded to as needed prior to finalizing and publishing materials and resources online in late spring 2024. 

Once finalized, the 2024 EPC Update will be incorporated into the Plan Bay Area 2050+ Blueprint analyses, as well as the Final Plan Bay Area 2050+ Equity Analysis Report, among other important deliverables. A broader, multi-year effort to re-envision the EPC framework is scheduled to kick off later in 2024.