Senate hearing spotlights transit operations as select Committee hears testimony from Bay Area leaders

Select Committee Hears Testimony from Bay Area Leaders
Joey Kotfica

MTC Executive Director Andrew Fremier and more than a dozen other Bay Area transportation leaders and policy advocates testified Monday afternoon at a hearing convened by the state Senate Select Committee on Bay Area Public Transit in San Francisco that highlighted the impact of the fiscal 2023-24 state budget and its inclusion of $1.1 billion in flexible funding to help California transit agencies avoid near-term service cuts as well as the future fiscal challenges expected by many Bay Area transit agencies.

Senators present at the hearing included committee chair Scott Wiener of San Francisco; Josh Becker, whose district includes much of the Peninsula; Dave Cortese and John Laird from the South Bay; and Nancy Skinner from the East Bay. 

Fremier provided the committee with details on MTC's proposed allocation of state dollars to support Bay Area transit agencies' operations through mid-2026; updated the senators on the progress of the Bay Area's post-pandemic transit ridership, which now averages about 66 percent of 2019 levels; explained progress being made by Bay Area transit agencies to implement the Transit Transformation Action Plan adopted in 2021; and discussed a possible regional transportation funding measure that could be considered by Bay Area voters in 2026.

Joining Fremier in the hearing's opening panel session was Dan Tischler, principal transportation modeler for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, who described several different scenarios that Bay Area transit agencies — most notably Muni and BART —  might face in the coming years if ridership numbers and the associated fare revenue continue to lag behind pre-pandemic levels.  Participants in the second portion of the hearing included:

  • Sebastian Petty, transportation policy manager at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning & Research Association (SPUR);
  • Ian Griffiths, policy director at Seamless Bay Area;
  • Emily Loper, vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council; and
  • Dylan Fabris, community and policy manager with San Francisco Transit Riders.

Transit agency leaders who provided testimony during the hearing's final panel — which updated the committee about Bay Area transit agencies' latest fiscal projections as well as service plans and other customer-focused initiatives — included:

  • Bob Powers, BART general manager;
  • Michelle Bouchard, Caltrain executive director;
  • Beverly Greene, AC Transit executive director of external affairs;
  • Carolyn Gonot, VTA general manager and CEO;
  • Denis Mulligan, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District general manger and CEO;
  • Seamus Murphy, San Francisco Bay Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) executive director; and
  • Bill Churchill, Central Contra Costa Transportation Authority (County Connection) general manager.

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