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Commentary: Regional Transit Funding Measure Paused. Time for Deeper Organizing

Thoughts from the Transbay Coalition on the withdrawal of 'The Connect Bay Area Act'

BART doing trackwork. Photo: BART

None of the Bay Area’s 27 transit agencies currently offer the frequent, reliable, seamless level of transit service needed to make transit the main way people get around their communities. We need to dramatically expand and improve transit service to make the Bay Area healthier, more prosperous, greener, and just. Yet many of our transit agencies are struggling. Service cuts are looming. For the few agencies that aren’t in as deep of a financial hole, they are still woefully underfunded and underserving their communities.

Everyone in the Bay Area deserves better. That takes funding and that takes governance reforms. The Connect Bay Area Act, (SB 1031) by Senators Wahab & Wiener was an attempt to fix a large chunk of this problem. The bill would authorize the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to put a transit funding measure directly on ballots throughout the region which would require a ⅔ majority of votes from people in all nine Bay Area Counties. It would have also authorized residents to do a signature gathering initiative to put a transit funding measure on ballots across the region that would need a simple majority to pass.

However, on Friday SB 1031 was pulled from this year’s legislative agenda to allow more time for stakeholders to build support. Simply put–we need a different deal on the table and a lot more transit advocates from all nine counties speaking up for it.

The Senators intend to introduce a new bill next year. There will be outreach to stakeholders over the summer and fall. Transbay Coalition will work with our members and allies around the region to ramp up our advocacy. Every single Bay Area community deserves better transit service and all 27 of our agencies need resources and reforms to make that happen.

To that end, this summer we urge you to get involved in a campaign for transportation improvements in your community. Transbay Coalition members are working on issues ranging from getting a new BART station built serving a working-class neighborhood, to stopping Amtrak service cuts to Antioch, to defending bus service, blocking a freeway expansion, and bringing new rail service to Napa. We are also gearing up for a big election season where we can get candidates on the record on transportation issues and cultivate a generation of pro-transit elected officials.

And if you want to launch your own campaign for transportation improvements, the Transbay Coalition is here to help you get started and support you in your advocacy. Already this year we’ve helped advocates stop an AC Transit fare hike and got weekend evening service restored on Broadway in downtown Oakland. Let us know what transportation improvements you’d like to work towards in your community and we’ll see how we can help out. Whether you want street safety changes or drastic transit service improvements, we are here to help.

The Transbay Coalition believes in giving openly with both hands to transportation advocates across the region. Our events and our advocacy training are free. If you are in a position to donate at any amount to help us keep that going, please chip in here. $20 or $200 or more– it all makes a difference.

The Bay Area needs dramatically better transit and winning those changes takes a lot of advocacy. Transbay Coalition remains committed to growing the bench of transportation advocates and building wide coalitions with justice, labor, environmental, and cultural groups. We are all in this together, and together we can win big changes.

Note: and while you have your checkbooks out, Streetsblog could use you help too covering issues important to the safe-and-livable streets community.

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