Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

CA: Bill Sponsored by BART Can Assist Local Transit Funding Challenges

Two bills sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) which would allow BART and other transit agencies in the state to raise much needed local revenue in new ways for critically needed transit infrastructure have been passed by the legislature and are now awaiting action by the governor.

“It's been demonstrated over and over again that investments in transit, walkability, cycling, and green spaces improve the livability, sustainability, and economic vitality of cities and neighborhoods,” BART Board President Tom Radulovich said. “Unfortunately, state and federal funding for transit, walking and cycling is increasingly scarce. These innovative financing tools will allow us to fund and build these smart infrastructure investments sooner by capturing some of the future value they create.”

SB 142, authored by Senator Mark DeSauliner (D- Concord) would give BART and other public agency operating transit in the state the authority to reap back some of the financial benefits that the transit system brings to local communities by creating “Benefit Assessment Districts.” The bill would allow the governing board, with a two-thirds vote, to levy an assessment on real property to finance the acquisition, construction, development, maintenance, or repair of eligible transit projects. In levying a benefit assessment, SB 142 would require an operator's governing board, to comply with specified public notices, protests, and hearing procedures required by CA Proposition 218 of 1996.

SB 628, authored by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) would expedite local efforts to help finance important infrastructure for transit-orientated development projects around BART transit stations. The bill would allow city or county officials throughout the state who decide to create an Infrastructure Finance District (IFD) for a “transit priority project” to proceed without having to conduct several local elections at each stage of the process.

This has been a disincentive for establishing IFDs in the past. Consistent with the state’s “Sustainable Communities Act,” SB 628 would require that at least 25 percent of the revenue raised through bonds be made available for affordable housing near the transit project. At the request of the governor this bill and others dealing with IFD’s have been held for further discussion next legislative session.

“How we pay for public transit must be a responsibility of all levels of government,” BART General Manager Grace Crunican said. “To keep our system sustainable with growing ridership demands, we must continue to ask support from our tax payers, our riders, our employees, and our state and federal governments. I urge the Governor to support both these bills which will allow BART to work in creative ways with local governments, businesses and residents to support the local stations and transit developments that give so much back to the communities we serve.”