Delay will allow additional time for collaboration with transit agencies and stakeholders, in order to strengthen transit priority options and deliver more tangible results
- Erin Ivie
- Director of Communications, Office of Assemblymember Buffy Wicks
OAKLAND – On Monday, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) announced that AB 455, which would improve bus and carpool travel in the Bay Bridge corridor, will become a two-year bill to move forward in 2022. Delaying action in the State Legislature until early next year will allow for greater collaboration among key partners, including Caltrans, the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and Alameda & San Francisco County Transportation Authorities.
AB 455 would authorize BATA to implement a transit priority lane on the Bay Bridge Corridor, which would improve transbay bus travel and provide more equitable access to jobs and services. Prior to the pandemic, transbay bus riders represented 25% of morning peak hour trips on the bridge. Of these riders, 40% have household incomes below $50K/year, 60% are people of color, and 30% speak a language other than English at home.
“We need faster and more reliable bus service to support our climate and equity goals – particularly through critical bottlenecks like the Bay Bridge,” said Assemblymember Wicks. “I’m pleased to hear from Caltrans that they are willing to meet and work with me and local partners on how to accelerate transit priority projects in this corridor.”
Caltrans will meet with Assemblymember Wicks and BATA this summer to discuss approaches for expediting bus and HOV improvements in the corridor. The discussion will include strategies for streamlining current proposals for transit and carpool lanes that would get buses onto the bridge more quickly.
"Even before offices are fully reopened, full buses are stuck in single-occupant vehicle congestion on the bridge – creating less reliable transit than before the pandemic,” noted Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), a co-author of the bill. “I support collaboration with Caltrans and local partners over the next six months to make sure that AB 455 will deliver significant speed and reliability improvements in the Bay Bridge corridor."
"I strongly support Assemblymember Wicks's plan to coordinate more closely with Caltrans and local partners on how to deliver meaningful improvements to bus speed and reliability in the Bay Bridge corridor,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), also a co-author of AB 455. “I look forward to seeing a strengthened bill move forward this spring."
AB 455 advocates acknowledged the potential benefits of taking several more months to ensure AB 455 delivers tangible results.
"AB 455 has the chance to transform how Californians cross the Bay for decades to come. Taking the time now to do it right – to ensure durable changes that increase transit reliability, equity, and speed – is the wise call,” said Derek Sagehorn, a member of the Transbay Coalition.
“Pre-pandemic, Bay Bridge travelers used buses or HOVs for more than 68% of westbound morning peak-hour trips,” said Nick Josefowitz, Chief of Policy for SPUR, the bill’s sponsor. “The vast majority of bridge travelers, and untold future bus riders, will benefit by getting buses and HOVs out of single-occupant vehicle congestion. AB 455 can help knock down bureaucratic hurdles to get this done.”
"MTC is eager to work with Assemblymember Wicks, coauthors, Caltrans, and other partners to ensure that AB 455 will accelerate implementation of planned Bay Bridge Forward projects that will benefit transit riders and carpoolers by improving bus and HOV speed and reliability,” said Alfred Pedroza, Chair of the Metropolitan Transit Commision (MTC) and Bay Area Transit Authority (BATA).
As the public transit operator carrying, by far, the largest number of passengers over the bridge, AC Transit will continue to bring practical bus operations experience to AB 455.
“Our board is united in support of a Bay Bridge bus-only lane, which will achieve reliable and faster frequency for our Transbay bus lines,” said Elsa Ortiz, President of the AC Transit Board of Directors. “Our transit-dependent riders rely on AC Transit’s Transbay bus lines and deserve our collective commitment to improving their everyday lives.”
For additional information and/or fact sheets, please email Erin Ivie, Communications Director, at email@example.com, or Jonathon Kass, SPUR Transportation Policy Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Assemblymember Buffy Wicks
Assemblymember Buffy Wicks represents California’s 15th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of the cities of Oakland, Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Pinole, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, and Piedmont. You can learn more about Assemblymember Wicks at http://a15.asmdc.org.
SPUR is a member-supported nonprofit public policy organization in the San Francisco Bay Area that works to create an equitable, sustainable and prosperous region through research, education and advocacy. SPUR is the sponsor of AB 455. You can learn more at www.spur.org.