July 31 2002
Department of Transportation
Office of Inspector General
400 Seventh Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20590
by email: email@example.com
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. (2441)
Washington, DC 20460
by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Metropolitan Transportation Planning Process, San Francisco Bay area (Metropolitan Transportation Commission, MTC)
Dear Inspectors General:
"The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the Twenty-first Century (TEA-21) significantly changed the law governing metropolitan transportation planning. In response to these changes, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) revised regulations setting requirements for the transportation planning processes in urbanized areas which must be complied with as a condition for eligibility for Federal transportation project funds. At least every three years, the FTA and FHWA must jointly certify that the transportation planning process in areas designated by TEA-21 as Transportation Management Areas (TMAs) is being conducted in accordance with the joint planning requirements of 23 USC 134 and 49 USC 5303." (emphasis added)
The text of the paragraph above was taken directly from http://www.fta.dot.gov/library/planning/cert2002.html.
A joint certification was made of the San Francisco Bay area's Metropolitan Planning Organization in July, 1996. On June 10 and 11, 1999, not quite three years later, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency jointly conducted a site visit and heard a full day of testimony from dozens of residents and elected officials.
Now it is July of 2002, more than three years since the previous review.
Is the requirement that "at least every three years" the planning process be certified still in effect? Consider that the executive director of the MPO recently notified his board of directors that there will be no review this year, 2002, and that FTA's web site (same URL as above) shows all of the planning certification reviews to be undertaken for the remainder of this year, and the San Francisco Bay area MPO is not on the list.
Much has happened since the MPO's planning process received a conditional certification following the 1999 review. For example:
Several Environmental Justice complaints were filed in 2000 and 2001 and are outstanding, awaiting action by DOT and US EPA;
A US District Court ruled in November that MTC is liable for failing to implement a transportation control measure it agreed to twenty years ago, and issued an injunction against MTC last week; &
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District last week issued a stay on the EPA's acceptance of the metropolitan region's Motor Vehicle Emissions Budgets, developed by the MPO, putting the area into a freeze and not allowing the adoption of the 2003 TIP to go forward.
No substantive justification has been provided by FTA or FHWA for removing the conditions of approval, and many individuals and groups involved in monitoring the MPO's activities believe that the reported compliance activities were flawed, insufficient and at best, inflated. RAFT, which has followed the actions of the MPO since 1992, believes that local residents and organizations should be allowed the opportunity to appear before a formal federal review panel and with the opportunity to rebut MPO statements --before the calendar year is over. This would allow the ongoing concerns about the MPO's planning process to be brought to the attention of appropriate officials.
The Bay Area deserves world-class public transit to serve our population which the MPO's own data shows to be the second-most diverse in the nation. No one mode can serve all needs, but all segments of the population should be entitled to adequate and equitable transit options which they can reasonable afford. The current MPO structure and planning process, unfortunately, show consistent evidence that this has not been occurring.
We offer these comments out of concern for the sustainability and equity of pubic transit in the Bay Area region. We look forward to your response.