California has a massive budget surplus this year—thanks in part to Silicon Valley, the stock market, and the state's progressive income tax—and the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill will provide the state with even more funding.
We believe a significant share of this windfall should become flexible funding for public transit including service and operations, because transit agencies are struggling as a result of the pandemic and the subsequent loss of ridership, farebox revenues, bus drivers and other transit workers—and they're cutting back service as a result. Click the graphic above to join us and our partners in this budget ask.
Move LA and nearly 50 organizations from around the state have sent a letter to Gov. Newsom and legislative leaders, including Senate Budget Chair Nancy Skinner and Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (pictured above), asking for $2.5 billion so people can get to their jobs, students can get to school, and people who don't have cars can get to wherever they need to be on time.
Our funding request also asks that $500 million of the $2.5 billion be made available for free and affordable fares for transit riders and youth. We need to get the economy up and running again and believe that promoting ridership as well as adequately funding transit operations is essential given the state's concerns about climate change, equity and environmental justice.
A larger nationwide movement is coalescing around these issues, and we have been joined by transit advocates across the country who are also urging state legislators and local Departments of Transportation to follow new federal guidelines when spending federal infrastructure funding. These guidelines set clear expectations for how to prioritize new investments in a way that makes communities safer, more accessible, sustainable, and equitable.
We encourage you to send your own letter supporting this important ask to Gov. Newsom and legislative leaders using this Action Alert created by Seamless Bay Area, a nonprofit advocating for a world-class transportation network.
Those of us who have been able to work at home and/or have cars may not be aware of the difficulty that service cutbacks pose for riders who have to get somewhere on time. These service cutbacks may mean they now have to leave very early—and get home very late—in order to catch a bus or train that gets them where they need to be.
Moreover, we all know transportation is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.—California was the biggest emitter but in the last decade Texas has surpassed us—and yet we spend most of our transportation funding on building and widening highways to make room for more cars. We spend relatively little on transit, walking and biking—the modes that transport many people and families who can't afford cars.
That is beginning to change with the state's emphasis on climate change, equity and environmental justice—but this transition is very slow and if there was a time to invest in transit operations it is now—with all the money in Sacramento and more coming from the federal government.