Blue Ribbon Task Force approves actions to guide post-pandemic future of Bay Area transit network
The Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force convened by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission wrapped up its work Monday by approving 27 near-term actions to be taken by MTC, transit agencies, county transportation agencies and others in the coming months to make the Bay Area’s public transportation network more connected, more efficient, and more customer-focused.
Approval of this set of actions marks the culmination of a 14-month effort that began in May 2020 when the Task Force accepted a three-stage mission to help the Bay Area transit network adjust to new conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. These stages included assisting in the distribution of federal coronavirus relief funds and guiding transit agencies’ recovery planning as well as developing a ‘Transit Transformation’ action plan.
The 32-member Task Force was chaired by MTC Commissioner and Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering and included several other local elected officials as well as advocates for people with disabilities; representatives from the state Senate, state Assembly and the California State Transportation Agency; transit agencies; business and labor groups; and transit and social justice advocates.
“We spent over a year deep in collaborative dialogue and a respectful search for consensus,” Spering said. “All of the Task Force members deserve huge thanks for their time and commitment, with special appreciation for the nine transit-agency general managers who actively contributed while also tackling historically severe impacts on their organizations.”
The specific actions unanimously approved by the Task Force are organized around the themes of fare-payment coordination and integration; customer information; transit priority on roadways to increase bus speeds and reliability; bus and rail network management reform; connected network planning; data collection and coordination; accessibility; and funding. These include:
- Act on recommendations of the Fare Coordination and Integration Study, including selecting and funding pilot projects (completion target: December 2021);
- Determine whether existing authority is sufficient to support uniform implementation of these recommendations (Dec. 2021);
- If needed, seek state legislation for additional authority to ensure timely and uniform implementation of these recommendations (mid-2022);
- Fund and finalize regional mapping and way-finding standards for application throughout the region (mid-2023);
- Fund and complete up to three consistently branded mapping and way-finding pilot projects in the North Bay and East Bay (late 2024);
- Fund and develop a data platform for regional mapping data services to enable standardization of digital and paper maps across all transit services (late 2023);
- Request action by Caltrans to expedite design exceptions that will allow for bus priority on state highways (Dec. 2021);
- Sponsor legislation to remove barriers to transit priority implementation (early 2022);
- Fund the design and delivery of prioritized near-term transit corridor projects (mid-2022);
- Select near-term carpool lane operating policies to advance to the state (mid-2022);
- Define a cooperative agreement process to expedite travel-time improvements on arterial streets and bus rights-of-way (late 2022);
- Fund, develop and adopt a transit-priority policy and corridor assessment for improving bus speeds and reliability (late 2023);
- Fund and complete a business-case analysis of potential transit network management reforms (mid-2022);
- Establish and support an MTC advisory group to guide this analysis (Oct. 2021);
- Provide financial incentives for Solano and Sonoma counties to complete their transit integration initiatives (Dec. 2021);
- Deliver grant for Phase 1 Rail Partnership and Governance Assessment (late 2021) and Final Assessment (mid-2023);
- Adopt transit equity principles and a process for applying them (mid-2022);
- Fund, develop and adopt a Bay Area Connected Network Plan (late 2023);
- Adopt a transit hub toolkit to optimize station design and connectivity that includes coordination with local governments’ access plans (late 2023);
- Establish protocols and implement uniform real-time and transit pathway data collection to provide customers consistent and accurate information (mid-2023);
- Designate a mobility manager to coordinate rides and serve as a liaison between transit agencies in each county (mid-2022);
- Fund more pilot projects for one-seat paratransit rides and develop cost-sharing policies for paratransit trips that cross jurisdictions (late 2022);
- Identify the next steps for full integration of ADA paratransit services with the Clipper fare-payment system (late 2022);
- Identify key paratransit challenges and recommend reforms (early 2023);
- Adopt standardized eligibility practices for programs that benefit people with disabilities, including paratransit and Clipper RTC cards (late 2022);
- Identify cost-saving efficiencies and funding needs for regional transit network management as part of the Business Case analysis outlined in actions #13 and #14 above (early 2022); and
- Convene stakeholders to identify priorities and a funding framework for a future transportation ballot measure that would include new funding for transit (late 2023).
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
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