Report to the Commission: July 22, 2020
Plan Bay Area Draft Blueprint
The Plan Bay Area Draft Blueprint has been released and has recently made above the fold ‘Front Page News’ of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Monday, July 20th edition. This is the culmination of months of work on behalf of staff, the Commission, the ABAG Board, and the public to put forth a set of forecasts and policy goals that map out a vision for the region in 2050. Additional outreach is kicking-off with nine county-focused digital public workshops and five telephone town hall public meetings. The first of these was the Napa-focused digital workshop on Wednesday, July 15th. The other workshops will be phased through July and August so there are multiple opportunities to join and participate.
Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force
The Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force met on July 20th, and requested that a specific update be presented to the Commission on the critical, shared task of developing and implementing a comprehensive health and safety strategy to keep the Bay Area’s public transit riders’ and employees’ well-being front and center as the COVID 19 pandemic continues to unfold.
The Task Force received a presentation by the public transit operators- the “Riding together: Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan” that establishes common health & safety commitments for employees and passengers, including those that ride multiple systems. The Plan highlights the essential partnership with the region’s transit customers to work together to minimize the transmission of COVID-19. Importantly, the transit operators have committed to implementing the plan individually and collectively, with an eye to continually improving and adjusting to changing circumstances and opportunities during this unprecedented crisis.
The following steps emerging from or closely related to Task Force input and recommendations are as follows:
- The “Riding together: Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan”” (the Plan) will be released publicly within the next 30 days
- This will be accompanied by a companion communications campaign led by MTC; this campaign will support the coordinated agency communication and information efforts.
- MTC requests that transit operators present to their governing boards and submit to the Commission a resolution that commits each agency to implementing the Plan
- Consistent with the Plan’s health and safety common commitments, a set of public transit baseline health conditions will be outlined in a “dashboard” for public access and information, and available to the Commission at its August meeting
- It will be accompanied by a framework for regular reporting of progress to track the baseline conditions
- The progress report will be submitted the Commission initially every month.
The new Clipper Start program a means-based fare pilot, which allows lower-income adults age 19-64 to receive big fare discounts on select transit services around the region, launched on Wednesday, July 15th. Clipper START discounts are 50% off fares for Muni, Caltrain, and select Golden Gate Transit and Ferry routes, and 20% off BART fares. This is an 18-month pilot program initiated by Bay Area Transit agencies and MTC that uses the Clipper transit fare payment system to reduce the cost of transportation for adults whose household incomes are no more than twice the federal poverty level (for example, $52,400 for a family of four). This program is coming at a time when the most vulnerable in our region are facing devastating impacts from the COVID economic climate. MTC has recently engaged 17 additional transit operators on the topic of joining the program and will be updating the Commission on that progress over the next couple of months.
The region has secured $114 million, or 41% of the statewide amount for 17 Bay Area projects, in the Infill Infrastructure Grant (IIG) program. This program supports infrastructure for affordable housing developments. MTC provided letters for all applications confirming Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) consistency and determining Transit Priority Area Consistency.
- Two projects in Napa county received $11 million from the Small Jurisdiction set aside, or $13% of the Small Jurisdiction funds. These funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and very little of the Bay Area is eligible for this set aside.
- 15 Bay Area projects were awarded from the Large Jurisdiction competitive round of funding
- Bay Area awards total $103 million, or 53% of the total large jurisdiction funds.
- Awarded projects in Alameda county (7), San Francisco (4), Santa Clara county (2), Contra Costa county, and Sonoma county.
- Bay Area awards will fund infrastructure improvements that support 2,724 units of affordable housing. Awards will fund things like sewer and utility improvements, roadway construction, and storm drains.
- Of the awarded projects in the Bay Area, seven also received Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) awards. Of the 11 projects that applied for both AHSC and IIG funds, only two did not receive either an AHSC or IIG grant.
The California Legislature will be returning on Monday July 27 two weeks later than originally planned due to the surge in COVID cases statewide and at least six members of Legislature and several staffers having tested positive for COVID. This creates an even more compressed hearing schedule, so we expect far fewer bills to make it to the finish line this year.
Congress, meanwhile, has returned to Washington, D.C. with a coronavirus aid relief package at the top of their agenda. It’s been widely reported that Congressional leadership have given themselves an August 7th deadline to pass a bill. State and local government aid, transit relief, and emergency aid for renters are all priorities we’re hopeful to see in a final package.
Things of Note
I was a panelist at the 11th Annual Mineta National Transportation Policy Summit, “Paying for Transportation in California: Does COVID-19 Change Everything?” on June 26. As a member of the Board of Trustees, I also attended the virtual Mineta Transportation Institute 28th annual convocation celebration on June 26. The Institute is geared specifically for working professionals who have not attained their master’s degrees. It was gratifying to see the diversity of the current class with a majority people of color and women, some working mothers, along with a number of station agents, maintenance supervisors, and transit security – professions that aren’t often seen as stepping stones to higher education. As we collectively try to build opportunities for those who have been left behind, it was an enlightening moment to see this graduating class in a program designed to uplift and provide a path forward to better economic outcomes.
- Chair Haggerty earlier this month was recognized by the California Transportation Foundation as its Person of the Year through a nomination jointly sponsored by MTC and the Alameda County Transportation Commission, for which Scott served as Chair from 2013 to 2016. Current Alameda CTC Chair Pauline Cutter noted, “In his 24 years of service, Supervisor Haggerty has been one of our strongest and most successful transportation leaders in the Bay Area. For all of us who know him, we see the lasting effect of his work in almost every transportation system in Alameda County and the Bay Area. There could not be a more deserving person.”
In addition to honoring Chair Haggerty for his work to deliver the Alameda County Measure B Capital Program, and to pass the Measure BB sales tax extension, the CTF also noted Scott's leadership in extending the BART system for the first time to Santa Clara County; his role in the Northern California Goods Movement Collaborative; his work to advance Express Lane projects; his support for the Safe Routes to Schools program and the Affordable Student Transit Pass; and his leadership in establishing the Valley Link partnership with northern San Joaquin Valley communities.
It is my pleasure to offer the warm congratulations and heartfelt thanks of the entire MTC-ABAG staff to Chair Haggerty for his decades of leadership and for his accomplishments in improving mobility for travelers throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
- On July 28 at noon, I will be moderating the next MetroTalks: Equity Series “Advancing Community Health and Equitable Engagement in the age of COVID-19.” The event will include Melissa Jones, Executive Director of the Bay Area Health Inequities Initiative and a pair of community leaders and will be stream on MTC-ABAG’s YouTube and Facebook pages.