PRESS RELEASE: State Senator Jim Beall Advocates for Additional Relief for Public Transit Agencies
State Senator Jim Beall Advocates for Additional Relief for Public Transit Agencies
Alerts Special Legislative Committee Hearing on COVID-19 Fallout that California’s Public Transit Agencies Will Continue to Face Massive Revenue Reductions that would Permanently Disrupt Local Transit Services
San Jose, CA – State Senator Jim Beall (D – San Jose) called in to testify during the first hearing of the newly formed Senate budget subcommittee focused on the state’s COVID-19 response to inform the committee of the ongoing and future challenges faced by California’s public transit agencies. Senator Jim Beall (D - San Jose) issued the following statement:
“As we all navigate the uncertain future caused by the coronavirus, I intend to bring attention to the crisis facing California’s public transportation agencies.
“Millions of Californians rely on the state’s public transportation networks to access work, run errands, and to explore the region. Even today, while most of us shelter in place, essential workers are utilizing these systems to get to their jobs on the front lines of responding to this crisis.
“However, agencies are facing steep declines in ridership and farebox revenue and have been forced to make serious reductions in services. Across the state, the impacts are severe and in the Bay Area we’ve seen staggering numbers:
- Santa Clara VTA: -82% ridership decline, -$126,000 weekly revenue decline
- BART: -94% ridership decline, -$10,000,000 weekly revenue decline
- CalTrain: -95% ridership decline, -$1,500,000 weekly revenue decline.
“There will be a second wave of massive revenue reductions as local sales taxes dedicated to transit services are significantly restricted due to the slowdown in our economy. If we do not act by this summer, the relief these agencies received in the Federal coronavirus legislation will be depleted by the fall.
“Without additional funding, public transit systems could face deep, permanent reductions affecting hundreds of thousands who rely on these services. We must protect these agencies and their workers to ensure that they can continue serving their communities as we recover from the pandemic. These transit systems cannot function without the vital and dedicated transit drivers, maintenance workers, and staff keeping buses and rail cars clean. They are all on the front lines working diligently to get riders to work, pick up groceries, and other essential services.”
“In the short term, there are steps we can take to relieve regulatory burdens, reduce agency costs and ensure that transit agencies can dedicate their staff and resources to advance public health as they continue to use transit service.
“We must also plan for the impacts yet to come. It may become necessary for the Legislature to provide additional relief to keep the trains and buses running through the hard times ahead.
“I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that California’s public transit agencies receive relief in the short term that will enable them to continue protecting workers, providing critical transportation services, and will put them on the path to a healthy recovery in the future.”