MTC announces integrated transit-fare system earns nod as top transformative project

Feb. 21, 2020
The proposal could boost ridership and ease traffic.

The integrated transit-fare system that was jointly proposed by Eddy Ionescu, a University of Waterloo student majoring in computer science, and Jason Lee, program manager of customer information systems at SFMTA, as well as by Seamless Bay Area and the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) has been named the winner of the Transformative Projects competition launched by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) in 2018.

The agencies are awarding $500 grand prizes to the Ionescu/Lee team and to Seamless Bay Area.

The range of fares, discounts and promotions now offered by the Bay Area’s more than two dozen transit operators can challenge and confuse even travelers when transferring from one system to another. Under the winning Transformative Projects submission, riders would be able to travel seamlessly between systems, making it easier to use transit to get around the Bay Area and potentially boosting ridership and easing roadway congestion.

MTC and ABAG in June 2018 issued a Request for Transformative Projects, asking for project ideas that have the potential to revolutionize how we move around the Bay Area. The request was part of the agencies' Horizon initiative, which explored the challenges and opportunities likely to face the Bay Area between now and 2050. The Transformative Projects competition generated more than 90 separate submissions from individuals and organizations around the Bay Area. A jury of transportation experts in the fall of 2018 identified 12 finalists, which were then evaluated by MTC and ABAG staff as part of the Horizon Project Performance Assessment. A full list of the more than 90 proposals submitted is available on MTC’s website and, as well as more information on the winning submissions.

Announcement of the Transformative Projects winners comes as MTC embarks on a fare-integration study it will co-manage with the Bay Area Rapid Transit. The commission in October 2019 approved $600,000 in Regional Measure 2 funds to support a fare coordination study with the goal of improving the passenger experience and growing transit ridership across the Bay Area. Oversight of the study will be provided by a new Fare Integration Task Force chaired by Caltrain/SamTrans CEO Jim Hartnett, with AC Transit General Manager Michael Hursh serving as vice chair. Other Task Force participants include members of the Clipper Executive Board and the executive directors of the Solano Transportation Authority, the Napa Valley Transportation Authority and the Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority.