FRANCIS F. CHIN (BAR NO. 059231)
MELANIE J. MORGAN (BAR NO. 059050)
ASSOCIATE GENERAL COUNSEL
METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION
Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter
101 Eighth Street, 3rd Floor
Oakland, CA 94608
Tel: (510) 464-7700
Fax: (510) 464-7848
DAVID D. COOKE (BAR NO. 094939)
ALLEN MATKINS LECK GAMBLE & MALLORY LLP
333 Bush Street, Seventeenth Floor
San Francisco, California 94104-2806
Phone: (415) 837-1515
Fax: (415) 837-1516
Attorneys for Defendant
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION
BAYVIEW HUNTERS POINT COMMUNITY ADVOCATES, et al.,
METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION, et al.,
Case No. C-01-0750 TEH
METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION'S FIFTH QUARTERLY REPORT
In accordance with the Court's July 19, 2002 Order Granting Injunctive Relief, as modified by the Court's October 21, 2002 Order Granting Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration (collectively, "Order"), Defendant Metropolitan Transportation Commission ("MTC") submits this Fifth Quarterly Progress Report.
A. FY 2002-2003 Ridership Data
As required, MTC submits with this report a compilation of transit ridership data for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2003. See Exhibit A. The data shows transit boardings calculated or estimated for the period July 1, 2002 - June 30, 2003. This data was furnished by the transit operators and will be audited by the Federal Transit Administration at a later date.
The data from the transit operators indicate that, notwithstanding MTC's efforts to support the transit operators during the economic downturn, transit ridership declined from 519 million boardings in fiscal year 2001-2002 to about 479 million boardings in fiscal year 2002-2003. As a result, MTC can no longer project that transit ridership will reach the target 15% increase level of 544.8 million annual boardings by June 30, 2007, as it had previously projected, or by the Court's deadline of November 9, 2006. 1
Because these data were recently collected, some only since the beginning of November 2003, MTC has not yet had the opportunity to analyze them in a rigorous and comprehensive way. Not surprisingly, however, the data indicate that the sharpest declines in ridership were experienced by operators of transit services in counties, such as Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco, that have been hardest hit by the economic downturn associated with the bursting of the "dot-com bubble."
A weakened economy reduces not only commute travel but also affects levels of non-work trips and transit trips associated with tourism. Since a loss of jobs also reduces automobile trips, moreover, the consequent reductions in traffic congestion may make automobile travel more attractive to some of those who have retained their jobs but formerly rode transit. 2
1 MTC's previous projection that regional transit ridership would reach the 15% increase level of 544.8 million annual boardings by the end of FY 2006-07 was based upon travel demand modeling performed in connection with the preparation of the 2001 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), and upon a 7% downward adjustment to the modeled projections taken in the spring of 2002 to account for the probable impacts on transit ridership of the recession and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. See Declaration Of Christopher P. Brittle In Opposition To Plaintiffs Motion For Permanent Injunction And Declaratory Relief Re: Penalties, on file herein, at 10. Thereafter, ridership declined from about 533 million boardings in FY 2001 to about 519 million boardings in FY 2002, a reduction of about 2.6%, but MTC did not infer from this relatively small decline that the recovery of the pace of ridership growth would be so delayed by the economy as to disable the region from reaching the level of 544.8 million annual boardings in FY 2006-07. These latest data, however, compel that conclusion.
2 The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) reports a 17% decline in daily vehicle-hours of delay due to congestion on Bay Area highways for 2002, the latest year for which data has been published.
No one knows when the economy will recover sufficiently to put the Bay Area back in a position to reach the target ridership increase level of 544.8 million annual boardings. However, MTC'S preparation of the next Bay Area transportation plan, which will replace the 2001 Regional Transportation Plan, is already underway. This planning process will include detailed travel demand forecasting, utilizing the latest economic and demographic projections, travel cost forecasts, and future transportation project information for the Bay Area. These forecasts will enable MTC to provide an updated projection of trends in transit boarding levels that may be expected with currently active and planned future support for transit operations and expansion.
MTC is exploring the possibility and process of seeking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ("EPA's") approval of the substitution of one or more measures in place of TCM 2. This process is likely to be very time-consuming, and it may be contentious; for example, plaintiffs' counsel in this case have taken the position that "TCMs subject to pending legal challenges for failure to implement must not be substituted."
B. Attainment of the Federal Ozone Standard.
Although transit ridership has declined, control strategies in place have caused air quality to continue to improve. In fact, the Bay Area has now attained the one-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. On October 31, 2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a proposed rule announcing this achievement. 68 Fed. Reg. 62041 (Oct. 31, 2003) (copy attached as Exhibit B).
MTC has long supported the goal of increased transit ridership. Attainment of the ozone standard while transit ridership declines and remains below the 15% increase level, however, demonstrates again that increasing transit ridership is not required to attain the federal standards.
C. MTC's Continuing Efforts to Increase Transit Ridership.
MTC continues to maintain the steps it has committed to taking to encourage transit ridership through its transportation planning and funding decisions and its support for transit operators, as well as through its ongoing programs outlined in its First Quarterly Report and described in detail in the Declarations of Steve Heminger (filed herein on April 23, 2002) and of William Hein (filed herein on July 9, 2001). The following is an update on MTC'S efforts to support transit capital improvements and transit operations:
Capital Projects. The status of the major transit capital expansion projects identified in the 2001 RTP, which are expected to contribute to increased ridership over the next few years, is briefly summarized in the attached Exhibit C. Most notably, the $1.5 billion BART expansion to San Francisco International Airport opened for revenue service at the end of FY 2OO2-O3.
Operating Assistance. The major sources of transit operating funds - tax revenues and farebox recoveries - have both been diminished as a result of the downturn of the economy. MTC has taken every practical step available to it to assist transit operators in their efforts to maintain existing service levels in the face of these financial challenges.
First, MTC has allowed transit operators to utilize certain federal transit capital funds, known as "Section 5307 funds," for "preventive maintenance" of their equipment. Normally, periodic maintenance costs are considered operating expenses, to be paid from an operating budget. Utilization of capital funds for this category of operating expenses frees up other operating funds for retention or expansion of existing services. Use of these federal Section 5307 funds in this manner is undesirable as a general policy matter as it postpones the necessary replacement of existing fleets, but exceptions to this policy have been deemed necessary in the current economic environment to assist transit operators whose sources of operating funds have been diminished. In recent fiscal years MTC has authorized the use of tens of millions of dollars in Section 5307 funds for preventive maintenance" for AC Transit, San Francisco MUNI, and the Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority, and for the current fiscal year (FY 2003-04) MTC has committed a minimum of an $86 million more in Section 5307 funds for preventive maintenance to be available to all Bay Area transit operators.
Second, the federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality ("CMAQ") funds that MTC controls have been used to fund such programs as bus rehabilitation and the development and launching of a major transit productivity program, TransLink®, which enables transit riders to utilize a single "smart card" to pay fares on multiple transit operators' systems. CMAQ funds can also be used for transit operating purposes for a period of three years, normally to demonstrate new service, after which time a source of replacement operating funds must be identified. MTC has utilized CMAQ funds to help operators restore eligible services that have been cut due to shortfalls in operating funds, but as noted the funds may be used for this purpose for only three years. Also, MTC has utilized CMAQ funds to increase its subsidy for operators in the early years of regional express bus operations to assist them in starting up new service.
MTC has also dedicated Regional Bridge Toll funds to feeder bus service to BART to offset the loss of other operating funds due to the continuing economic downturn. This service is provided by Alameda and Contra Costa County bus operators.
Other measures. MTC continues to pursue other measures intended to benefit transit operations, service and expansion:
On October 10, 2003, after active support and aggressive lobbying efforts by MTC and others, the legislature passed and Governor Davis signed into law Senate Bill 916 (Perata), cited as Cal. Statutes 2003, Chapter 715, which authorizes the placement of a regional traffic relief plan on the March 2, 2004 ballot in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano counties. If the voters approve it, the plan will be funded through a $1 toll increase on the Bay Area's seven state-owned toll bridges. This toll increase is expected to raise approximately $125 million each year to address congestion relief and enhance the convenience and reliability of the region's public transit system in the vicinity of bridge corridors. Transit projects in the plan include seismic retrofit of the Transbay BART tube, the Transbay Terminal Project in San Francisco, and BART capacity improvements in Contra Costa County and Alameda counties. Other rail improvements include expansion of Caltrain service along the Peninsula and the introduction of service over a rehabilitated Dumbarton rail bridge that would connect BART, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor and ACE. The plan would fund express bus infrastructure, and bus feeder service to the regional transit network as well. In addition to capital investments, the plan dedicates to transit operations up to 38 percent of total annual revenues, providing an unprecedented infusion of toll funds for commuter rail, express and enhanced bus, and ferry service. Funds would be designated to specific transit agencies to operate transbay routes including service over six Bay Area toll bridges. The transit services receiving operating funds include Dumbarton Rail ($5.5 million annually); Ferry Service ($15.3 million annually); Express Bus (North, Central and South Bay) ($12.3 million annually); AC Transit ($3 million annually); San Francisco Muni ($2.5 million annually); and Night Owl Bus Service ($1.8 million annually). (The plan also would contribute funds to improvements to several freeway bottlenecks, including the Interstate 80/ Interstate 680 interchange in Solano County, a fourth bore for the Caldecott tunnel, and the completion of funding for the new span of the Benicia Bridge.)
MTC has the authority the state Legislature to place before the voters a regional gasoline tax increase of up to ten cents per gallon. Transit operations is an eligible use of the funds. Recent polling information commissioned by MTC, however, suggests that it would be difficult to pass such a measure under the current 2/3 voter approval requirement. MTC has continued to support legislation to lower the voter approval criterion to a simple majority.
MTC is continuing its lobbying efforts in Washington in support of reauthorization of the current federal transportation spending program.
In October 2003, MTC approved Phase II, i.e., full implementation, of the TransLink® program, which means that this new system's universal "smart card" fare payment card readers will be installed at paygates of participating transit operators throughout the system. This is a major transit productivity measure intended to make transit use more convenient and practical for travelers who must transfer between services provided by independent transit operators.
MTC has recently launched an upgrade of a Bay Area traveler information system, which includes the "511 .org" transit trip planner website.
MTC continues to conduct studies of transit affordability and of ways to improve transit connectivity in the Bay Area.
Notwithstanding the enormous challenges of maintaining and growing the transit system in an era of diminished employment and economic activity and sharply reduced tax revenues, MTC continues to do its utmost to support the region's transit operators and use the tools available to it to encourage increased transit ridership.
Dated: November 10, 2003
FRANCIS F. CHIN
MELANIE J. MORGAN
METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION
DAVID D. COOKE
ALLEN, MATKINS, LECK, GAMBLE & MALLORY LLP
DAVID D. COOKE
Attorneys for Defendant
METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
REGIONAL TRANSIT RIDERSHIP
FISCAL YEAR 2002-03 (Ending June 30, 2003)
Alameda Oakland Ferry
Altamont Commuter Express (ACE)
Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)
Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority
Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCCTA)
Dixon Readi-Ride (DRR)
Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority (ECCTA) dba Tri Delta Transit
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District
Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA)
Napa County Transportation Planning Agency (NCTPA)
Rio Vista Transit
San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans)
San Francisco Municipal Railway
Santa Rosa City Bus
Sonoma County Transit
Union City Transit
Vacaville City Coach
Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)
Western Contra Costa Transit Authority (WestCAT)
Source: Transit operators
PROPOSED RULE REGARDING ATTAINMENT
OF ONE HOUR OZONE STANDARD
OCTOBER 31, 2003
(Federal Register/Vol. 68, No. 211/Friday, October 31, 2003/Proposed Rules
(These pages are available through this link: http://frwebgate2.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=694909349416+4+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve)
STATUS OF MAJOR TRANSIT
CAPITAL EXPANSION PROJECTS
Service commenced June 2003
Muni Metro 3rd Street LRT: lOS
Project currently under construction
Also includes construction of new Metro East maintenance facility
Projected opening date-, July/August 2005
Caltrain Express/Rapid Rail ("Baby Bullet")
Projects includes two components:
track/signal improvements and new rolling stock
Track/signal improvements are under construction - Projected completion date: Spring 2004
All passenger cars on property; locomotives to be delivered by the end of December 2003
Currently planning for up to 10 additional express trains by Spring 2004
VTA Light Rail Extensions
- Tasman East/Capitol
Under construction; expected completion date: July 2004
Under construction; expected completion date: November 2004
Regional Bus Program
AC Transit start dates:
- I-80 - started March 2003
- Dumbarton - December 2003
- San Mateo Bridge - started March 2003
CCCTA start dates:
-I-680 - Spring 2004
Fairfield/Suisun start dates:
- Vacaville/Walnut Creek - larger buses introduced April 2003; additional service scheduled for January 2004
Golden Gate Transit start dates:
- US 101 routes - started April 2003
LAVTA start dates
- Rte 70 - started February 2003 - Subscription services - TBD
SamTrans start dates:
- El Camino Real - January 2004
Tri-Delta start dates:
- Rte. 300 - started February 2003
Vallejo Transit start dates:
- BARTLink (1-80 Corridor)- started June 2003
- BARTLink (1-680 Corridor) - TBD
WestCat start dates:
- SR 4 - January 2004
AC Transit San Pablo Avenue Enhanced Bus Corridor
Service started June 2003