Emergency actions NOW to save Bay Area transit during Covid-19 crisis – 1/2

On March 16, 2020 the California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 89 and Senate Bill 89, which are now awaiting the Governor’s signature. This funding would authorize $500 million immediately and up to $1 billion in total to be used at the Governor’s discretion with the purpose of providing assistance related to the impacts of COVID-19.

We are asking our state government to publicly support funding for Bay Area public transit operators during this time of critical need.

  1. Sign the petition NOW PLEASE:
  2. Call and email your state legislators NOW PLEASE

Here is information on the issue that you can use in your call. Short version: please direct emergency funding from AB89/SB89 to support public transportation that is providing a vital service and facing tremendous loss of revenue during the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 represents a threat to the health and wellbeing of all Californians, particularly our vulnerable and elderly neighbors. Our public health interventions to slow the spread of infections are necessary and welcome. Unfortunately, these same precautions, such as social distancing and sheltering in place, threaten the existence of public transit systems in the Bay Area that continue to function, as they are considered essential services that are transporting nurses, social service workers, grocery store employees, and the people who keep our society running during these trying times.

On March 17, 2020, the “shelter in place” order began in nearly every county in the Bay Area. This order assumes that public transit will still be available for those requiring “Essential Travel,” which includes critical business and government functions. This means that even during the most extreme social distancing measures, our region needs safe, functioning and reliable public transit.

Given our current conditions, that is not possible without additional funding.

In the first week of social distancing (March 9-15), every public transit agency saw precipitous drops in ridership:

  • BART saw a 24%-61% drop in ridership, adding up to approximately $5 million in revenue lost
  • Muni averaged approximately 35-50% drop in ridership and $1 million in revenue lost
  • Caltrain saw a 75% drop in ticket sales, correlating with the drop in ridership
  • AC Transit, VTA, and other agencies have seen similar drops

These figures are for last week, when many people voluntarily stayed home. With the “shelter in place” order now mandating that almost everyone stay home, this week and the following weeks are expected to see even lower ridership and more fare revenue lost.

Transit operators have no idea how long the COVID-19 crisis will last, or even how long shelter in place orders will remain in effect.

Therefore, we call on the California Legislature, Governor Gavin Newsom, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to urgently prioritize the following as part of the recently-passed bills to provide emergency funding:

  • Allocate state funding, particularly that made available by AB89 and SB89, for Bay Area public transit operators, with a focus on transit operations and fare recovery for transit operators with high farebox recovery rates, and
  • Ensure guidelines for state and federal pass-through funding is eligible for transit operators.

Sign the petition to call for our regional institutions and state government to support public transit, its riders and operators with emergency fiscal stimulus as quickly as possible.

Bay Area Legislative Delegation:

Assembly

Ash Kalra(916) 319-2027
Kansen Chu(916) 319-2025
Marc Berman(916) 319-2024
Bill Quirk(916) 319-2020
Evan Low(916) 319-2028
Tim Grayson(916) 319-2014
Rebecca Bauer-Kahan(916) 319-2016
Cecilia Aguiar-Curry(916) 319-2004
Jim Frazier(916) 319-2011
Jim Wood(916) 319-2002
Phil Ting(916) 319-2019
Buffy Wicks(916) 319-2015
Rob Bonta(916) 319-2018
Kevin Mullin(916) 319-2022
Marc Levine(916) 319-2010

Senate

Scott Wiener(916) 651-4011
Nancy Skinner(916) 651-4009
Bob Wieckowski(916) 651-4010
Jerry Hill(916) 651-4013
Jim Beall(916) 651-4015
Steve Glazer(916) 651-4007
Bill Monning(916) 651-4017
Bill Dodd(916) 651-4003
Mike McGuire(916) 651-4002