Recently, the consolidation of transit agencies for integrated mobility management has been on trend both abroad and in the US. In early February, California Sen. Josh Becker introduced Senate Bill 917which requires the implementation of the Seamless Transit Transformations Act.
SB 917 will commission the Metropolitan Transportation Commission of San Francisco to form a more complete, cohesive transportation system with more than two dozen Gulf Area transit agencies. In particular, the bill will require the MTC to adopt a connected network plan with an integrated transit tariff structure, integrated transit mapping, funding plan and open data standards.
There are currently 27 independent transit agencies in nine Gulf counties. Each agency uses different tariff structures, discounts, loyalty programs, search programs, maps and branding systems. Lack of schedule coordination and real-time transit data between agencies can make the transfer confusing and unreliable, leading to an unpleasant experience for racers from the Gulf area. Despite several investments in transport infrastructure, the number of transit passengers in the Gulf area remains low.
There is a growing need to manage transport, social justice and environmental policies in all forms in the city or region. Compatibility of platforms that facilitate data exchange and cooperation between stakeholders will be crucial to improve agency services and improve the passenger experience.
Equality and accessibility
A study A TransitCenter found that black, Asian and Latin American transit riders in the Gulf area have much less access to work than the average white resident. If California is one of the most expensive states to live in, it’s no surprise that transit rates can also be expensive. In fact, due to the large number of transit agencies in the region, racers pay a financial penalty if they have to use more than one transit agency.
By eliminating this financial penalty, SB 917 will make transit payments less expensive and make public transport more accessible to low-income people. The bill also proposes a general structure of tariffs for long-distance travel and an interdepartmental transit pass for one set price. Combining all 27 independent transit agencies will allow the Bay Area transit system to be easier to use, less expensive and therefore more affordable.
Successful urban network management requires flexibility in approaches, technologies, and platforms that allow local agencies to integrate outdated systems with new technologies, as well as data generated by smart devices and third-party vendors. A business case on tariff integration has found that changes to the SB 917 could increase the number of transit passengers by tens of thousands, while reducing congestion and emissions from cars on the road.
Despite such positive forecasts, the implementation of this policy depends on the approval of each of the 27 transit agencies in the Gulf region. However, with SB 917 these policies will become mandatory requirements for obtaining public transit funds. The bill will also require agencies to develop a connected network plan for the region by the end of 2023. The connected network plan will be an integrated service for the region that defines fast transit zones, desired service levels and frequencies, and target travel times. It will also ultimately support the creation of a single regional high-speed bus transit system.
Consolidated mobility managers at the city and regional levels need scalable and interoperable digital mobility tools to help them manage the entire mobile network between stakeholders and regimes. As passengers increasingly link several species on their travels, it makes sense to manage the network the way passengers experience it – not as a series of independent species, but as a holistic journey from where they are to where they need to go. Eventually, public transportation will become a convenient, affordable and environmentally friendly option for all Bay Area residents.