BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






           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 28, 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 (Nez), 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.





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          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;




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                 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 




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               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, 




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               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 




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               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.

              5.   Double-referral  .  This bill has also been referred to 
               the Senate Rules Committee.  
                
               6.   Reconsideration vote  .  This bill failed passage in this 
               committee on June 22, 2011, on a 4-2 vote.  Reconsideration 
               was granted on a 7-0 vote.

          Assembly Votes:




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               Floor:    51-25
               Appr: 12-5
               Trans:      9-1

          POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the Committee before noon on 
          Wednesday,                                             June 22, 
          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
                     San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District
                     Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
                     Sierra Club California
                     State Building and Construction Trades Council of 
          California
                     The Train Riders Association of California
                     TransForm




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                     The Transit Coalition
                     Ubuntu Green
                     United Transportation Union, California Legislative 
          Board
                     VSPI, Inc.
                     WALKSacramento 
          OPPOSED:   None received.