Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) issued the following statement in response to a plan to temporarily to raise tolls on 7 state-owned bridges in the Bay Area by $1.50 for 5-years. The bill provides much-needed public transportation funding to prevent service cuts and improve safety, cleanliness, and reliability.
Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 532, the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Public Transportation Emergency Act. Those bridges are:
- San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
- San Mateo-Hayward Bridge
- Richmond-San Rafael Bridge
- Dumbarton Bridge
- Carquinez Bridge
- Benicia-Martinez Bridge
- Antioch Bridge
Here is Senator Glazer’s statement:
“Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Transit riders and taxpayers have witnessed firsthand the trail of broken promises by advocates for bridge toll increases. We know from hard-learned experience that new funding does not ensure proper oversight and accountability at BART.
For the last toll increase in 2018, toll advocates promised taxpayers and transit riders a fully functioning and properly funded BART Office of the Inspector General. Instead, BART’s Board of Directors and management starved the new office of money.
I recognize and support the need for public transit investment. However, I will vigorously oppose any bridge toll increase until, at a minimum, the powers of the Office of Inspector General are fully restored. In addition, the role of the BART board in the appointment of the IG should be modified to ensure that this appointee has the true independence and authority to do their job. Any taxpayer dollars spent should only be done so with adequate oversight.
If the traveling public is going to invest additional money into transit, we must have the fiscal oversight to ensure that the systems are run safely, efficiently and honestly. The status quo is failure and we should not put in another penny to support it.
In its two-party agreement (between the Senate and the Assembly), the Legislature agreed to provide $1.1 billion statewide for transit operations, with the Bay Area expected to receive approximately $400 million of that amount over the next three years. This important funding commitment will partially solve the fiscal cliff issue, but additional regional self-help or state funding sources are needed to fully prevent these impending service cuts.
At the same time, many transit riders are reporting worse experiences since the pre-pandemic times. For example, a recent Bay Area Council poll found that fewer than one in five BART users would describe the system as safe or clean. Transit operators are taking steps to address these challenges – including a new officer deployment on BART that led to a 38% decrease in service calls – but more work remains to be done to deliver the rider experience needed to restore ridership to pre pandemic levels.