Matt Mahan

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Scott Wiener Senator: Good news on public transportation!



Last week, we passed the state budget, and despite a significant projected deficit, the budget contains some excellent news for public transportation. After months of advocacy, we secured over $1 billion to help keep buses and trains running over the next 3 years.


Transit agencies across the state have been heading straight for financial disaster, as I wrote to you several months ago. Federal relief funds have been keeping them afloat for a couple years now, but those funds are about to end, blowing a major hole in transit agency budgets across the state.


Those budget shortfalls were so massive they could have forced transit systems to enact major service cuts, even as ridership has been recovering. BART warned that it might be forced to end weekend service, end evening service at 9 pm, and move to one train per hour. MUNI stated it could be forced to eliminate 15-20 bus lines. Cuts of that magnitude could cause permanent damage to our transit systems, as cuts lead to reduced ridership and revenue, leading to more cuts.


Thanks to advocacy from a massive coalition we assembled - including the San Francisco Giants and 49ers, Mayor London Breed, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, leading business, labor, and environmental organizations, transit advocates, and local elected officials from around the state - we secured additional operations funding that will help us avert this disaster scenario for now. The new budget - which we passed last week - provides $1.1 billion that can be used for transit operations over the next three years and fully restores $4 billion transit infrastructure projects. We estimate the funds secured in this agreement will cover up to half of the Bay Area’s transit operational deficit over the next three years, while ensuring that crucial transit projects of regional and statewide significance will continue to be able to leverage once-in-a-generation federal funding from the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This was a huge uphill battle, and we could not have succeeded without the massive, diverse, and dedicated coalition that rallied to save public transit.


Even with this agreement, there is more work to be done. This budget is an agreement between the Senate and Assembly, and negotiations between the Legislature and Governor continue. Additionally, we must identify additional funding sources in the near-term — whether through new regional measures or continued state advocacy. I am continuing to advocate for excess federal highway funds California is receiving (above and beyond what we anticipated) to be used for transit operations - as the Biden administration has encouraged — and exploring ways to regionally raise additional revenues for transit operations in the Bay Area.


We all see the range of challenges facing public transportation right now, including the need for improved safety and cleanliness. Our transit agencies are making changes. For example, in recent months, BART has doubled the frequency of its train deep cleanings, redeployed BART police to make them more visible in the system, and invested in its unarmed ambassador programs. These changes have already yielded a 38% decrease in calls for assistance. Muni has made progress as well, with transit priority and other investments helping multiple lines exceed pre-pandemic ridership. Muni rider satisfaction is at its highest level since 2013.


To resolve these issues we need to reform public transit — and we can’t reform a defunct system. We will be attaching requirements to this new state funding to hold our transit systems accountable for improving service. Yet, we must always be clear that allowing our transit systems to unravel is in absolutely no one’s interest.


I would like to thank Assembly and Senate Budget Chairs Phil Ting and Nancy Skinner, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon for their dedication to helping us secure additional transit operations funding. After the budget is passed by the legislature, it heads to the Governor for signature.


Public transportation is fundamental to the future of San Francisco and San Mateo County, and I will always fight for it.




Scott Wiener