California is being denied $12 billion in federal transit funds. Here’s how it’ll hurt the Bay Area

By Ricardo Cano, San Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 2021

“A decision by the Biden administration to withhold $12 billion in federal transit funds from California could immediately affect services provided by the Bay Area’s 27 transit operators as they attempt to recover deep financial losses sustained during the pandemic, local officials say.

“The denial of the transit funding is the latest twist in a long dispute over whether California’s 2013 Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act, which capped pension benefits for new employees, infringes on the collective bargaining rights of public transit workers in the eyes of the federal government.

“The state sharply disputes the Labor Department’s interpretation and vows to fight the decision.

“In a Nov. 10 letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Gov. Gavin Newsom questioned the legal reasoning behind the ruling and said it ‘has created tremendous confusion and uncertainty for numerous infrastructure projects.’

$9.5 billion for transit infrastructure projects are blocked. Another $2.5 billion in COVID relief funds for transit services “had not yet gained Labor Department certification at the time of the ruling.” This loss “could be felt most immediately by Bay Area transit agencies and their riders.”

“ ‘We have the highest level of confidence this issue will be worked out at the federal level without an impact to BART projects and our efforts to seek grant funding,’ BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said in a statement.”

Read the full article here. (~3 min.)

Although transit funds may be blocked, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contains billions for other critical transportation projects. Chastity Hale reported in the Peninsula Press on November 10, 2021: 

In a recent news release, MTC and ABAG wrote that they also expect the Bay Area to receive some of the $4.5 billion in competitive funding allocated to California for bridge repair, as well as ‘dedicated resources for zero emission vehicle charging and resilience projects.’

“There needs to be more electric vehicle charging infrastructure in order to support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035. In 2018, the California Energy Commission set a goal of 250,000 chargers by 2025; however, as of January 2021, the state is still thousands of chargers short of meeting this target. And over 1,000 bridges throughout the state, like Santa Clara County’s Interstate 280 over Lawrence Expressway & Creek, are in poor condition and need to be repaired or rebuilt.”

Read more about the intended impact of the infrastructure bill on the Bay Area here. (~3 min.)

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