Updates on Voices for Public Transportation
By Michael Gliksohn
Voices for Public Transportation (VPT) is a coalition of labor, community-based organizations, and equity advocates who know that investing in the Bay Area’s transportation system is essential for the health and wellness of our communities, environment, and economy. RPA is a member of the coalition and I am our representative using this forum to keep our organization updated.
Formed in 2018, VPT’s original focus was on shaping a progressive regional transit funding initiative to be on the November 2020 ballot. In that effort VPT got a seat at the table in State and regional discussions. However, that work was delayed by the pandemic. As a result, VPT pivoted to strongly advocate, along with regional transit unions, for the health and safety of transit operators and riders. They successfully lobbied the MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) to use federal Covid relief funds for these purposes, including fare-free rear boarding, and a partial restoration of previous service cuts.
Now VPT has returned to its original mission, putting a progressively-funded (i.e., no sales tax) regional transit funding measure on the November 2024 ballot, and getting it approved by the voters. They have laid out a 3-year timeline. One main feature of the campaign at this point is putting pressure on MTC to lead a wide-ranging public process in 2022 to learn from the broadest number of transit users what is most important to them in future transit funding.
These are some of VPT’s successes in 2021.
- - MTC adopted a Transformation Action Plan and support operations funding and public process.
- - MTC hosted a Listening Session for a regional funding measure.
- - VPT members kicked off a series of constituent legislative visits to gain lawmaker support for a regional funding measure, and five were held at the end of 2021.
In March 2022, the RPA Steering Committee voted to support SB 917, the Seamless Transit Transformation Act, a bill recently introduced by Senator Josh Becker and co-sponsored by Seamless Bay Area, TransForm, and Bay Area Council. SB 917 takes meaningful steps toward seamlessly integrated public transit in the San Francisco Bay Area by advancing integrated fares, transit wayfinding, real time information, and coordinated service. The bill advances initiatives identified in the region’s Transit Transformation Action Plan and the plan unanimously agreed to by the region’s Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force in 2021.
For more information about VPT, visit https://www.voicesforpublictransportation.org/