It’s Time for California to Step Up for Public Transit: Here’s How to Help

rockridge bart

Photo by Sergio Ruiz

SPUR and our partners in the Survive and Thrive Coalition continue to advocate for state funding to save and improve public transit. Transit operators in the state are collectively facing a $6 billion operating shortfall, which will force operators to cut service and raise fares. Millions of Californians rely on public transit for access to jobs and school — and the state’s climate, equity, health, and housing goals depend on it. We’re calling for a multiyear commitment to keep transit alive. See below for actions you can take to help.


Other states like New York are stepping up to avert a fiscal cliff in ways that California has yet to do, despite the state’s ambitious goals. According to SPUR’s analysis, state funding makes up only a relatively small portion of the operating funding that California's largest and most productive transit systems rely on. Only 4% of BART’s operating budget and 9% of Muni’s operating budget comes from the state. Most operating funding is locally-sourced; in the Bay Area, voter-approved measures already generate more than $1 billion a year in operating funds.


California’s Senate Democratic Caucus released a budget framework that recommended restoring Governor Newsom’s cuts to transit capital projects. It also signaled a strong interest in making state funds more flexible so they can be used for operations to keep trains, buses and ferries running. This step is important and welcome, but much more will be needed to fully address the shortfall. Our hope is that California fills the $6 billion statewide shortfall and resources transit improvements with a multiyear commitment of funds. The transit fiscal crisis is solvable: MTC has identified $7.4 billion in possible sources, suggesting there are ways to find roughly $1 billion per year with minimal impact to the general fund.


As budget negotiations heat up, the time is now to contact your legislators. There will be several important legislative hearings and opportunities to respond to the governor’s budget revision in May. Our coalition partner, Seamless Bay Area, has launched Save California Transit, where you can find the latest events and actions to tell your elected officials to fund transit.


Take action to support public transit


Learn more:

Watch Senator Wiener’s press conference on state funding for public transportation.

Listen to SPUR talk about California transit’s fiscal cliff on KALW’s State of the Bay. 


The Survive and Thrive coalition is a broad, pro-equity, civic, business and environmental coalition that is fighting to save and improve public transit. Founding members include SPUR, Transform, Bay Area Council, Seamless Bay Area, Public Advocates, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Urban Habitat, and Natural Resources Defense Council.