FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Zack Deutsch-Gross, Policy Director
SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 12, 2023—By allocating $1.1 billion in largely cap-and-trade funds flexible for transit operations, making the $4 billion in Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) funds flexible for transit operations, and reversing the governor’s proposed $2 billion cut to transit capital funds, California’s leaders have affirmed the state’s commitment to public transit operations across the state. As statewide transportation, housing, environmental and community advocates, we are grateful to our legislative leadership in Budget Committee chairs Senator Nancy Skinner and Assemblymember Phil Ting, Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins and Speaker Anthony Rendon, as well as the Newsom Administration for providing transit with significant funding support and flexibility to start California on a path to averting the fiscal cliff and restoring transit ridership. We want to express particular thanks to Senator Scott Wiener and his staff for their tireless leadership on the issue.
Although the amount committed in the state budget will be very helpful over the next three years, it is not yet sufficient to meet the magnitude of the financial challenge confronting transit agencies, let alone provide the necessary investments to encourage people to return to transit over the longer run. Ridership recovery investments—safety and cleanliness, wayfinding, fare coordination and affordability, and discount pass programs—are vital to the long-term viability of public transit throughout California.
Furthermore, the proposed funding will force hard choices between maintaining essential service for riders and forgoing billions in federal matching funds for regionally significant capital projects that would increase transit use over time, support good paying union jobs, and stimulate our economic recovery.
Finally, the State's failure to utilize flexible federal transportation dollars creates an unnecessary trade-off between the State's investments in critical zero-emissions vehicle infrastructure and preserving our transit system level of operations and ridership. Analysis from CARB shows that both zero-emissions vehicles and significant increases in transit service are necessary to achieve the State’s climate and clean air goals.
We need to fund a frequent, affordable, accessible and reliable transit system that benefits all Californians. We call on Governor Newsom to support the legislature’s budget proposal. And we will continue to work with the state to identify additional funding—including flexing state highway funds—so that transit in California can survive and thrive. Without additional investment in the coming years, California’s goals for climate, housing, equity, and economic development—all of which are predicated on a larger and growing transit system—will slip out of reach.