SACRAMENTO - Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) has introduced AB 455, known as the Bay Bridge Fast Forward Program, to improve traffic movement, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Bay Area, and create more equitable access and opportunity for bus ridership across the Bay Bridge corridor.
“AB 455 would promote greater equity, accessibility, and sustainability by prioritizing buses in the Bay Area region’s most congested passageway. This is critical since public transit is often the primary means of travel for many lower-income residents,” said Bonta. “Now more than ever, it’s important that we take equitable actions to improve transit efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and provide more ridership options.”
The bill sets specific goals for faster and more reliable bus travel through the Bay Bridge corridor, requires the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) to work with partner agencies on infrastructure operations strategies to meet these transit goals, and requires an implementation plan for an exclusive bus and high occupancy lane on the Bay Bridge if these goals are not achieved by 2025.
“Traffic congestion exacerbates inequity by reducing transit reliability for those who depend on buses, and forcing others who have found that they can’t rely on buses into the high-cost car commutes that they can’t afford.” said Bonta. “Prioritizing road space for buses and other sustainable modes will improve access to jobs, schools and other essential services for those who need it most, while providing alternatives to driving in cars for everyone.”
Growing traffic congestion across the Bay Bridge corridor is making these options slower and less reliable. Improving the performance for these modes of transportation will attract more riders, develop more efficient and affordable transit service, increase the number of people the Bay Bridge can carry, and promote independence and self-sustainability for those who heavily rely on public transit.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, AC Transit’s 27 Transbay bus lines made 3.9 million trips, per year, across the Bay Bridge corridor. Increasingly East Bay commuters chose bus service into San Francisco. In fact, half of AC Transit’s 10 most productive bus lines rely on the Bay Bridge corridor. However, these routes are slower and less reliable because of car and truck traffic on the bridge.
“Bus-only lanes have been a priority for AC Transit for decades,” says Jean Walsh, AC Transit Board of Directors. “We opened a first of its kind 9.5 mile bus-only lane in 2020 from Uptown Oakland to the San Leandro Transit Center; moving essential workers even faster, and we are eager to build upon this work. The AC Transit Board is excited that Assemblymember Bonta shares our vision of traffic reduction, increased bus ridership, and a better experience for transit riders across the Bay Bridge.”
Not only does traffic congestion lead to lost productivity, the transportation sector is California’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. California’s clear standards to reduce transportation emissions and boost California’s green economy require that we prioritize transit and other sustainable modes. AB 455 demonstrates the sort of priority for sustainable travel modes that is going to be needed throughout the state.
"This bill will speed up bridge access for buses and vanpools and increase the total number of people who can get across the bridge during peak periods.” said Nick Josefowitz, Policy Chief of the Bay Area policy research group, SPUR and sponsor of AB 455. “If we’re serious about combatting climate change, reducing air pollution in vulnerable communities like West Oakland, and giving people better alternatives to sitting alone in their cars in traffic, then we have to prioritize sustainable transportation on our roads."
“We must do everything we can to support transit riders as we map an equitable and resilient recovery from the pandemic.” said Libby Schaaf, Oakland Mayor and MTC Commissioner. “It's our priority to get residents and families moving safely again, and a fast lane across the bridge is the right step forward. We cannot delay any longer."
This bill is sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) and is supported by several AC Transit board members, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, numerous East Bay City Councilmembers, Eastbay for Everyone, East Bay Transit Riders Union, Greenbelt Alliance, San Francisco Transit Riders, Seamless Bay Area, The Transbay Coalition, TransForm, Urban Environmentalists, and Walk Bike Berkeley.
Assemblymember Rob Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro and is the Assistant Majority Leader.