COVID-19 delays transportation ‘mega-measure’

VTA to raise adult fares, reduce youth fares starting Jan. 1Photo: VTA

Proponents of a major transportation funding proposal are delaying their efforts, due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the uncertainty it is bringing across the region.

The plan, known as FASTER Bay Area, was moving toward the November 2020 ballot, but has put off for a future election date. It would have entailed a one-cent sales tax increase across nine Bay Area counties, raising approximately $100 billion over 40 years.

It was an ambitious plan, driven mostly by business organizations including the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Bay Area Council, and the urban planning group SPUR. Stated goals included the improved integration of services between the many, currently diffuse transit systems in the Bay Area, in addition to significant expansion of transit-focused transportation infrastructure projects.

To get on the November 2020 ballot, the group would have needed to clear the tall task of a 2/3 threshold in both the State Assembly and the State Senate, and be signed by Governor Newsom this summer.

“Under normal circumstances, this was a very challenging task,” the coalition said in a statement about the effort.

That was all before novel coronavirus threw a wrench in the global circumstances.

“These are not normal circumstances,” the group continued.

Looking to the future

All might not be lost for the group’s work, however, with a goal of pursuing a later election date, potentially when there is more certainty for the economic future. After more than 500 meetings, including engagement across the region with citizens, elected officials, and transit and transportation experts, the group hopes its framework can get any future effort off to a head start.

“As we look ahead we remain committed to working together towards a network that is truly

seamless, fast, frequent and reliable enough to get people out of their cars.”

To see more about the initiative, click here.

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