The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) today released a framework for creation of a 30-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, to be chaired by MTC Commissioner and Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering, will include 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. Establishment of the Task Force will be discussed next week at the May meeting of MTC’s Programming and Allocations Committee.
“I expect the Task Force’s work to take at least a year,” said Spering. “So I cannot stress enough how thankful my Commission colleagues and MTC staff are that so many thoughtful, experienced and far-sighted leaders accepted the invitation to join this historic effort.”
The Task Force will first address the current public transit crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and make recommendations for future funding actions by MTC. These will include the second distribution of money approved by Congress earlier this year through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The first distribution of $780 million in CARES Act funding was approved by MTC last month.
“Before we take action on the rest of the Bay Area’s total $1.3 billion CARES Act allocation,” explained MTC Chair and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, “we have to address a whole range of issues, from equity to transit worker safety in addition to the financial losses our transit agencies are suffering and the near-term plans each agency will have to make in order to keep operating.”
Spering explained that the Task Force will discuss strategies to stabilize transit systems and restore ridership, and will review agencies’ recovery plans with a goal of creating a set of recommendations for repositioning our transit systems for the future. “Every transit agency in the Bay Area is going to face serious challenges in the years ahead. We all have to coordinate action to make sure every dollar is invested most effectively. The current crisis gives us a chance to really focus on shared priorities for navigating the post-pandemic world.”
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.