Transit is essential to keep the Bay Area moving
The COVID-19 pandemic changed how Bay Area residents live, work, and travel. It hit our public transit system hard, decimating transit ridership and, along with it, the transit fare revenue that many of the Bay Area’s transit agencies rely on to keep their buses, trains, and ferries in service.
We are in an unprecedented moment, with the survival of our transit system as we know it at risk. While many workers, students, and our neighbors who depend on transit continue to ride, others have returned to transit more slowly and less frequently. The Bay Area has one of the highest work-from-home rates in the nation, resulting in fewer commute trips. Current transit ridership in the Bay Area remains at only 53% of pre-pandemic levels, and this, combined with inflation, is making it harder for transit agencies to pay the bills.
Based on current ridership, service levels and cost trends, Bay Area transit agencies are facing budget deficits in the tens of millions of dollars next year, growing to hundreds of millions the year after. Without new funding sources for our transit system, the Bay Area will face devastating transit service cuts, riders will see steep fare hikes, and transit workers will be laid off. Routes that once existed will be cut, and service will be less frequent and reliable.
We can't afford to lose transit—public transportation is essential to keep the Bay Area moving. Learn more about the financial crisis.
We're moving forward together. The Bay Area's transit agencies are working together to provide information regarding transit services schedule updates and tips for passengers. All 27 Bay Area agencies are collaborating to deliver services that will restart our region and get people where they need to go.
Whether you are commuting multiple days a week, traveling to school, visiting your favorite place, or taking occasional trips, we are here to help. Welcome back, Bay Area. It's great to see you again on transit!
Please visit our Operator/Service Information page for the latest info from each transit provider.
The Bay Area’s transit agencies want more integration throughout the region, and we’re working to advance lots of initiatives to get there. We meet every week to move the work forward and hold ourselves accountable.
Fare Coordination: The Clipper® card is being improved, and we launched the BayPass Pilot in mid-August 2022. The pilot is providing 50,000 Bay Area residents—primarily college students—free access to all bus, rail, and ferry services in the nine-county region. It is testing the concept of offering a pre-paid “all you can ride” transit pass that works on all systems that accept Clipper. Our next step is to offer it to large employers. More about fare integration here.
Schedule Alignment: We’re aligning our schedules so it’s easier for riders to make connections between agencies. For example, we are sharing schedule changes with each other earlier and developing data tools to enable better coordination of connections. This means fewer near misses and less waiting.
Transit Priority: We’ve made major strides giving buses priority on our roadways. The SFMTA added 15 miles of transit lanes during the pandemic, and those lanes have made it possible for Muni buses that drive on those roads to be 15 – 20% faster. Golden Gate Transit also has access to SFMTA’s Van Ness Ave, lanes. The SFMTA and Caltrans partnered to launch the first urban high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in California.
Transit Integration: The agencies and the MTC have committed to implementing the improvements in our Transformational Action Plan. We will need funding to complete many of these actions. View our roadmap for integrated transit here.
We’re still struggling with not having enough funding to create the kind of seamless system we all want, because transit has historically been underfunded in the U.S., including in the progressive Bay Area. The pandemic made our financial situations far worse, and most of us are now facing a financial cliff when our one-time federal relief funds run out.