BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE BILL NO: ab 650 SENATOR MARK DESAULNIER, CHAIRMAN AUTHOR: blumenfield VERSION: 6/14/11 Analysis by: Erin Riches FISCAL: yes Hearing date: June 21, 2011 SUBJECT: Blue Ribbon Task Force on Public Transportation for the 21st Century DESCRIPTION: This bill creates the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Public Transportation for the 21st Century Task Force, with specified membership, and requires the task force to issue a report with findings and recommendations relating to the state of California's transit system. ANALYSIS: Existing law, established by AB 32 (Núñez), Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006, requires the State Air Resources Board to adopt a statewide greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) limit that would reduce emissions by 25% by 2020. Existing law, established by SB 375 (Steinberg), Chapter 728, Statutes of 2008, requires metropolitan planning organizations to include sustainable communities' strategies in their regional transportation plans for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Existing law requires the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to develop a 20-year California Transportation Plan. Under SB 391 (Liu), Chapter 585, Statutes of 2009, the plan must include GHG reduction strategies and describe a "statewide integrated multimodal transportation system" that can achieve these strategies. SB 391 requires Caltrans to complete an interim report by December 31, 2012 that includes an overview of all sustainable communities strategies outlined in the regional transportation plans and assesses how implementation of those strategies will influence the configuration of the state's transportation system. Caltrans must complete the first update of the plan by December 31, 2015 and update it every five years thereafter. AB 650 (BLUMENFIELD) Page 2 Federal law requires metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), in order to receive federal transportation funds, to prepare and adopt a biennial transportation improvement plan. Federal law also requires Caltrans to adopt a biennial statewide federal transportation improvement program, covering a 20-year period, that incorporates each of the 18 MPO plans as well as the rural portions of the state that do not fall under an MPO. Caltrans must develop the plan through a public process involving consultation with local governments, transportation officials, Native American tribal governments, and other interested parties. Existing law, established by SB 732 (Steinberg), Chapter 729, Statutes of 2008, creates the Strategic Growth Council and charges it with coordinating state agencies to improve air and water quality, protect natural resources and agricultural lands, increase the availability of affordable housing, improve transportation, revitalize urban and community centers, and help state and local entities to plan sustainable communities and meet AB 32 goals. SB 732 provides the council with $500,000 in funds from Proposition 1E, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, and requires it to manage and award grants and loans for preparation, adoption, and implementation of general plan elements, regional plans, and urban greening plans. Existing law establishes the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) as the comprehensive land use planning agency of the state. Existing law establishes the Planning Advisory and Assistance Council within OPR. OPR and the Council are charged with engaging in the formulation, evaluation, and updating of long-range goals and policies for land use, population growth and distribution, urban expansion, development, open space, resource preservation and utilization, air and water quality, and other factors that affect statewide development patterns and influence environmental quality. This bill : Establishes the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Public Transportation for the 21st Century, to be comprised of 12 members to be jointly appointed by the Senate Rules Committee and Assembly Speaker by January 31, 2012, as follows: o A business representative; AB 650 (BLUMENFIELD) Page 3 o A public transit representative; o An environmental representative; o An organized labor representative; o A public health or air quality expert; o A regional transportation agency representative; o A transit advocacy group representative; o An education or academic representative with experience in public transportation; o A finance expert; o A Member of the California State Assembly; o A Member of the California State Senate. Requires the task force, within 45 days of the last appointment being made, to develop a clear scope of work for accomplishing the purpose of this bill, which shall include a general statement of purpose, research objectives, tasks necessary to accomplish these objectives, a timeline for achieving these tasks, identification of necessary consultants, and a budget for the funds appropriated for this purpose. Requires the task force to meet at least twice a month and to conduct at least nine public listening sessions, as specified. Requires the task force, to the extent possible, to communicate with the public and stakeholders via the media, including electronic and social media, about the public listening sessions and requires these sessions to be Web cast. Requires the task force, in carrying out its duties, to consider public transportation systems in general as well as specific systems designed to transport workers to work sites, such as vanpool services as employer-supported shared transit. Requires the task force, by September 30, 2012, to submit a written report to the Governor, the Legislature, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the Senate Rules Committee, the Assembly Speaker, the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, and the Assembly Transportation Committee. Requires this report to include findings and AB 650 (BLUMENFIELD) Page 4 recommendations addressing all of the following: o The current state of California's transit system, including major intermodal hubs, bus systems, bus rapid transit, light rail and streetcar, intercity bus and rail, jitney services, paratransit services, vanpools, variable route or shuttle services, and connectivity between modes in the system. o The level and types of transit needed to meet the following goals: equity of accessibility and ease of use; strong and sustainable local and statewide economics; and environmental and public health, including reduced greenhouse gases and pollutant emissions. o The estimated cost of creating the needed transit system in the near term (within five years), midterm (within 15 years), and long term (within 25 years). o Potential funding sources to sustain the system. o Requirements and methods to attain the needed funding. o Suggested scenarios to phase in transit development. o Recommendations for action based on these findings. Requires the task force to contract with consultants such as the faculty and staff of the Institute of Transportation Studies of the University of California (ITS), for expert research, analysis, advice, and to draft the preliminary and final reports. Requires the task force to contract with the consultants for any additional purposes it deems necessary, including, but not limited to: public opinion surveys; analyses of transit operating systems inside and outside California; public outreach; preparation of Web-based, video, and print production of task force findings; and drafting of papers related to expert research and analysis. Makes task force meetings and public listening sessions subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. Appropriates $750,000 from the Public Transportation Account to Caltrans to accomplish the purpose of this bill, AB 650 (BLUMENFIELD) Page 5 and requires Caltrans to administer these funds and provide administrative staffing. Sunsets the provisions of this bill on March 31, 2017. COMMENTS: 1. Purpose . According to the author, demand for transit services has increased as a result of rising fuel prices, growing traffic congestion, and a desire to cut both the expense and environmental impact of commuting. In recent years the situation has worsened as funding sources that were once dedicated to maintaining and increasing transit service have eroded in terms of stability and reliability. Due to dwindling funds, transit service has been reduced, putting drivers out of work and leaving bus and rail riders scrambling for alternative ways to get to jobs and school. On average, traffic congestion across the state increased by 11% last year and is likely to worsen as the economy improves and more people get behind the wheel to get to work. Los Angeles is one of the top three most congested cities in the nation, with each driver spending the equivalent of a week and a half of a work week in traffic. The author asserts that a comprehensive report, produced by a task force of qualified representatives, is necessary to produce viable solutions to California's public transportation problems. The task force will draw upon expert research that lays out the current state of mass transit in the state, what the state needs to do to ensure that the transit system meets demand, how much it would cost, and practical recommendations on how to pay for that system. 2. Elevating the importance of transit . As noted above, the California Transportation Commission (CTC), Strategic Growth Council (SGC), and Planning and Advisory Assistance Council (PAAC) all address transportation and planning issues. The task force differs from these entities on two key points: mission and membership. While the CTC, PAAC, and SGC missions all include analyses of transit needs, transit is not their top priority. The CTC programs, allocates, and plans for highway, passenger rail, and transit projects; the PAAC and SGC have a broader focus on long-range planning, environmental protection, and AB 650 (BLUMENFIELD) Page 6 facilitation of sustainable communities. This bill designates three of the 12 task force members as public transit representatives. In contrast, statute only requires the CTC to represent the urban, rural, northern, and southern areas of the state. The PAAC membership has a local and regional government focus, with county, city, regional, and Native American representatives. And the SGC has a heavy gubernatorial administration focus, with four Cabinet Secretaries, the OPR Director, and one public member. 3. Is a task force the best use of scarce transit funds ? This bill appropriates $750,000 from the Public Transportation Account for the Task Force, in addition to requiring Caltrans to provide administrative support. Supporters argue that this will not negatively impact the general fund or existing public transportation expenditures because the funds for the task force are available from a designated account, the Public Transportation Account (PTA). Roughly three-quarters of PTA funds are allocated through the State Transit Assistance program, which allocates funding to local transit agencies to support a portion of their operations and capital costs. The remainder of funds in the PTA primarily fund intercity rail, in addition to capital projects in the State Transportation Improvement Program, planning activities, and Caltrans staffing. The appropriation in this bill would come from this smaller portion of the PTA. 4. Another task force, another report . Numerous state entities are devoted to transportation and planning issues, and many reports have been produced over the years detailing the need for increased state spending on transportation and other infrastructure. The committee may wish to ask what added value this task force can provide, particularly given the lack of resources with which to fund improvements to the state's transit system. Assembly Votes: Floor: 51-25 Appr: 12-5 Trans: 9-1 AB 650 (BLUMENFIELD) Page 7 POSITIONS: (Communicated to the Committee before noon on Wednesday, June 15, 2011 ) SUPPORT: Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO American Lung Association in California Breathe California California Conference of Machinists California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union California Coalition for Clean Air California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance California Farm Bureau Federation California League of Conservation Voters CALPIRG California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation California Teamsters Public Affairs Council California Transit Association Coalition on Regional Equity East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice Environmental Defense Fund Long Beach Transit Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Mobility 21 Move LA National Parks Conservation Association Policy Link Ridership for the Masses Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District Sacramento Regional Transit Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Sierra Club California State Building and Construction Trades Council of California The Train Riders Association of California TransForm The Transit Coalition Ubuntu Green United Transportation Union, California Legislative Board VSPI, Inc. AB 650 (BLUMENFIELD) Page 8 WALKSacramento OPPOSED: None received.