Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Bay Area transit agencies get first round of latest federal transit relief package

Muni to get $44 million from total of $982 million distributed locally

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to allocate millions of dollars in federal relief money to Bay Area transit agencies, a move that’s expected to temporarily stave off layoffs and maintain service levels over the coming months.

BART and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will get the biggest payments, set to receive $103.7 million and $43.8 million respectively.

Both agencies face crippling budget deficits for the current and upcoming fiscal years as a result of dramatically declined ridership, reductions in farebox revenue and decreases in other revenue streams such as parking and sales tax.

In addition to keeping workers employed and funding additional service, the millions of dollars will be used to help close an estimated $33 million shortfall for BART this fiscal year and a projected $68 million gap for SFMTA during the same period.

MTC is responsible for doling out the $982 million in federal assistance expected for Bay Area transit agencies as a result of the passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act that was passed in January.

This first tranche of funding — which accounted for the first $180 million — will go to the agencies that lost more revenue than projected last year and, therefore, received less money than they should have from the first coronavirus relief package passed in April.

Other than BART and SFMTA, three other agencies will receive support in this round: Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, $20.3 million; Caltrain, $6.9 million; and the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority, $4.9 million.

“While only five operators are proposed to receive allocations from the initial distribution, it is important to note that all Bay Area operators are facing significant budgetary impacts due to the pandemic and economic uncertainty,” an MTC staff report said.

MTC will disperse the remaining $803 million in transit relief over the coming weeks. It will look at revenue losses resulting from the pandemic, operator expenses and the demand for service from transit-dependent riders in order to determine who gets help, and how much.

Of note, only operators within urban areas are eligible to receive funding.

San Francisco-Oakland agencies will receive $822.7 million total, with San Jose and Santa Rosa receiving $144.2 million and $15.4 million, respectively.

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