Sen. Josh Becker, D-San Mateo, introduced the Seamless Transit Transformation Act, or SB-917, Feb. 3, which would establish a Connected Network Plan to create a more integrated and coordinated Bay Area transit network.
The act, sponsored by Seamless Bay Area, the Bay Area Council and TransForm, advocates for an integrated transit fare structure by 2024, according to a press release from Becker’s office.
“We must act quickly to entice riders back to public transit — and put the rider experience front and center,” Becker said in the press release. “This legislation will help transform our system into a world-class, seamless experience for the public, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving access to jobs and housing for residents.”
Developments in real-time transit information technology have created opportunities for Bay Area transit agencies to provide more accurate wait times and improve rider experiences, the bill’s text reads.
An integrated transportation system would also provide low-income residents an advantage as they will not be required to pay multiple separate transit fares once the system becomes more unified, the press release stated.
“This bill makes fares fair and ensures transit is more accessible and easier to use,” said policy advocacy manager with TransForm Hayley Currier in the press release. “The Seamless Transit Transformation Act is helping to build a system that is more reliable and more equitable.”
According to the press release, there are currently 27 individual transit agencies operating in the Bay Area. These existing transit agencies would be required to comply with these provisions, the bill stated.
BART spokesperson James Allison said in an email that the BART Board of Directors has taken a “support if amended” position for the bill. BART is working with all Bay Area transit operators to implement policies proposed by the act and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Transformation Action Plan to make transit more affordable and easily navigable without cutting services for riders, he said.
Becker said in a press release that while the current transit system in the Bay Area is disjointed and can be an “unreliable experience,” the proposed system will provide a more seamless experience for people by improving access to jobs and housing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“As we move past COVID, it’s critical we get commuters back on public transit,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman in a press release. “Making transit as easy, affordable and convenient for everyone to use is paramount in that effort and better integrating fares is one of the most cost-effective, common-sense tools for making that happen.”