MTC & ABAG Updates for 2019
By Kelley Kromhout | NextGen Marin
On Friday, October 11th, members of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) met in San Francisco to review informational reports and discuss potential actions to address the constant problems of traffic and the jobs and housing imbalance.
First, the MTC Executive Committee met to review a “mega transportation” revenue initiative called FASTER Bay Area, which aims to create “a seamless transportation system providing: Freedom, Affordability, Speed, Transparency, Equity, [and] Reliability.” The group of policy, government, business, transportation, and community leaders involved in FASTER are hoping to make transportation more affordable, reduce carbon emissions, and improve opportunities for low- and middle-income workers. FASTER is looking to connect rail between counties, improve existing transit networks, and upgrade walk and bike paths, all looking to get people out of their single-occupant vehicles and hopefully reduce traffic. The goal is to raise $100 billion over the next several years via a regional ballot measure.
The measure, of course, would raise the costs of living in the Bay Area, but the hope is that the money would be well-spent to drastically improve the barely-functioning infrastructure in the Bay Area. MTC Commissioners asked their staff to analyze the tax measures passed in Seattle and Los Angeles to provide more background on the process before moving forward. Alameda County Supervisor and Chair of the MTC Executive Board Scott Haggerty reflected on a time when Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) itself put tax measures on the ballot: in 1957, California State Legislature formed BART and allowed them to levy property taxes for general bond obligations with a 60% approval rating from voters; in 1969 BART also used a half-cent sales tax to levy for bond sales to raise $150 million. “Fixing” or even “improving” the Bay Area’s infrastructure is no small feat, but someone has to do it; for now, it looks like it’s MTC at the helm.
Next, the MTC Operations Committee met to approve a list of vendors to participate in Shift Bay Area, which is looking to shift commute behavior from single-rider vehicles to ride-sharing with a $2 million investment. Shift will look for employers to participate in the 3-year long program, which is targeted at larger companies although there is no minimum employee requirement. Enrolled employers will use a pre-qualified commute management tool to facilitate commutes and manage parking to discourage single-occupant vehicle (SOV) travel and parking. Discounted pricing will be offered to program participants. Data created by the program will be reported to MTC to demonstrate changes in commuting behavior. This program is slated to be released this fall.
Finally, the Joint MTC Planning Committee met with the ABAG Administrative Committee to receive a presentation on potential strategies to respond to the uncertain future the Bay Area faces. Plan Bay Area 2050, which will be focused on equity and resilience, is in its beginning stages of conception: several public outreach workshops and surveys have been conducted to receive feedback from community members of the Bay Area; now the initiative-based Horizon group is presenting its findings to MTC & ABAG.
Horizon has narrowed down several potential strategies down to three, which have different focuses but all seem to outperform the previously adopted strategies from Plan Bay Area 2040. These strategies are: Rising Tides, Falling Fortunes (where “the federal government cuts spending and reduces regulations, leaving more policy decisions to states and regions”); Clean and Green (where “new technologies and a national carbon tax enabled greater telecommuting and distributed job centers”); and Back to the Future (where “an economic boom and new transportation options spur a new wave of development”). The Rising Tides, Falling Fortunes scenario imagines a time during which climate change experiences its fastest rate of growth and the economy is struggling; Clean and Green depicts automated vehicle and the embrace of technology; Back to the Future exhibits a strong economy with a rising population from immigration policies. Each of these strategies has different projected effects on modes of transportation, recovery time from sea level rise and earthquakes, and levels of growth in jobs and housing, among various other factors. The outreach portion of preparing for Plan Bay Area 2050 is almost over; the blueprint for PBA 2050 will be drafted in 2020 and finalized in 2021.
Two attachments are available below: one that gives a brief overview of Horizon’s Futures Final Report and another that contains the presentation that was presented to the Joint MTC Planning & ABAG Administrative Committees. These various committees and boards meet usually once per month at 375 Beale Street in San Francisco. Go to www.abag.ca.gov/meetings for meetings for ABAG and www.mtc.ca.gov/meetings for meetings for MTC.
Meeting Agenda - ABAG Administrative Committee
Futures Final Plan - Plan Bay Area 2050