Back to transit: MTC, Bay Area look to a post-pandemic future

Karl Nielsen

This is the first in an ongoing series of posts on the return to transit as MTC and the region look to a post-pandemic Bay Area.

COVID-19 dealt a punishing blow to Bay Area residents and businesses that only now shows signs of easing. As the light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel appears to be growing brighter, MTC is working to get the region back on its feet for what comes next. Similar challenges face transportation agencies across the country and around the world.

Much of MTC’s COVID-era work has focused on preserving — and ultimately improving — the Bay Area’s transit network. This work began last year. In May 2020, MTC created the 32-member Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force to guide the future of the Bay Area’s public transportation network. The Task Force, chaired by MTC Commissioner and Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering, includes 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.

In recent months, MTC has been working on transit rider and employer/schools research in order to determine the barriers and motivators for transit ridership, both pre-pandemic and currently. This work will be the foundation for creating communications aimed at restoring lost transit ridership due to the pandemic, while assisting in the transit network management effort. For riders that are now using the system transit agencies have taken steps to keep them safe. An accounting of steps taken have been noted here.

We do know there will be a new normal. People will work from home more often, teleconferencing will continue, but a segment of the population will return to the office and will join those who now rely on public transit to get to their jobs. MTC understands the importance of a healthy transit system and its importance for the region.

Around the country, communities are considering the impact of the pandemic on public transit:

"What’s Next For Public Transportation? Three Steps To Get Back On"

“The Pandemic Could Devastate Mass Transit In the U.S. –  And Not For the Reason You Think.”….

"COVID Made Many Of Us Avoid Public Transport – What Will It Take  To Get Us Back On the Bus?"

Work is continuing at MTC on this critical issue and future blog posts will note progress of efforts in the region.


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