Transit Briefs: SFMTA, VTA, NCDOT, VIA Rail

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
SFMTA photo

SFMTA photo

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors work to develop the agency’s two-year budget. Also, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) announces its fourth transit-oriented affordable housing development; the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) seeks information from the public on new and advanced technologies to improve transportation; and VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) is recognized by Forbes as one of Canada’s Best Employers 2024.


The SFMTA Board of Directors recently discussed the agency’s upcoming two-year budget, which must be submitted to the Mayor’s Office before May 1.

The budget will cover two fiscal years:

  • FY 2024-2025 (July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025)
  • FY 2025-2026 (July 1, 2025 – June 30, 2026)

“Transportation is vital to San Francisco’s livability and vitality, as well as to the city’s economic recovery, equity and environmental goals,” SFMTA said in a release.

The next two-year budget will fund a variety of programs and services, including:

  • Muni service on 72 routes supported by operators, maintenance staff, station agents, car cleaners, transit planners, engineers and more.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, Vision Zero, traffic calming measures, major street infrastructure improvements and parking curb and traffic management.
  • Mobility services including paratransit, accessibility improvements, taxis and powered scooter share and commuter shuttle program enforcement.

According to SFMTA, the agency anticipates a $12.7 million deficit during the FY 24-25 and FY 25-26 budget cycle as it “continues to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Muni revenue is 56% of pre-pandemic levels and parking revenue is 12%, according to SFMTA. “This decrease in revenue makes our long-standing structural deficit worse. Even before the pandemic, our revenues were less than what we needed. They were not enough to meet the increasing demand for our programs and services,” the agency said.

To close the budget gap, SFMTA says it has restricted its hiring to key positions and made Muni service more efficient. “Because service is faster and more reliable, we can deliver more service for the same amount of money. We’ve also limited Muni service changes to ones that are ‘cost neutral.’ We are doing this by shifting vehicles and operators from less crowded Muni routes to routes where the demand is high,” the agency added.

However, these changes, SFMTA says, aren’t sufficient to balance the budget. So, the agency is proposing modest increases to Muni fares, parking fees and fines and taxi fees. The following are the changes SFMTA staff have proposed to the agency’s Board of Directors to bridge the $12.7 million gap:

  • Muni fares: Eliminate Clipper discount over two years (to generate $5.2M in revenue).
  • Parking fines: Increase by 5% (to generate $3.7M in revenue).
  • Residential parking permits: Implement automatic inflation indexing and recover additional expenses (to generate $2.9M in revenue).
  • Taxi fees: Reinstate taxi fees and apply automatic inflation indexing (to generate $1.2M in revenue).

More information can be found here.

The full presentation that the agency made to the Board of Directors on Jan. 30 is available to download below.


VTA on Feb. 2 announced its fourth transit-oriented affordable housing development, which will be built in the City of Campbell, close to public transit and accessible to lower income families.

The development, which is the fourth to be introduced through the agency’s Transit Oriented Development program in the last nine months, will include ninety two- and three-bedroom apartments units to be built on under-utilized park and ride space at the Winchester light rail station.

VTA is leasing the property to developers Related California and PATH Ventures to build the housing. The County Office of Supportive Housing is also working with VTA using 2016 Measure A funds for the project. 

“The experience that PATH Ventures has is invaluable so we can ensure that we are providing the right kind of housing to meet the needs of our community,” said VTA Board Chair and Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

PATH Ventures is a division of PATH, a statewide organization that helps people find permanent housing and provides case management and other supportive services. “The housing and homelessness crises require us to act with urgency, innovate and use all public resources available to create more affordable housing,” said PATH Ventures CEO Joel John Roberts.

The station is located in the City of Campbell, where VTA Vice Chair Sergio Lopez serves as Vice Mayor. “We’re proud to be one of the most pro-housing cities in the region, and this project is in line with our values: honoring our history while making sure Campbell is a community for everyone. Our residents’ strong support for this project is a testament not just to staff’s outreach and hard work, but also of our commitment to those values,” Lopez said.

Mayor Susan M. Landry said, “Affordable housing is so desperately needed throughout the Bay Area. This is one of the first housing projects coming forward that is identified in Campbell’s Housing element.”

Related is also a well-known developer throughout California. Their work, VTA says, will also enhance the amenities at the transit station to make it easier for multiple forms of mobility. “We look forward to working with our partners to not only create critically needed housing for some of the community’s most vulnerable residents but also provide transit station improvements,” said Ann Silverberg, CEO of Related California’s Northern California Affordable and Northwest Divisions.

Projects that are “transit-oriented” allow people to live and work near public transportation, which VTA says, “helps clear the air, ease traffic and add infrastructure investments to the community.” The Winchester station is currently served by VTA’s Green Line and bus lines Express 101, 60, 37, and 27.

Construction on the housing development is slated to begin in 2025, with a move-in date estimated in 2027-2028.


NCDOT is seeking information from the public on new and advanced technologies to improve transportation.

NCDOT’s Aviation and Integrated Mobility divisions issued Requests for Information (RFIs) to identify and explore new ground and air vehicle technologies.

Information learned will be used to inform future decisions about zero-emission aircraft and automated vehicles.

The RFIs are part of NCDOT’s ongoing Advance Mobility NC campaign, aimed at creating a multimodal transportation system that improves the mobility of people and freight. 

More information is available here and here.

VIA Rail

VIA Rail announced Feb. 2 that it has been recognized by Forbes as one of Canada’s Best Employers 2024.

“This prestigious accolade serves as a testament to VIA Rail’s unwavering commitment to providing an exceptional work environment to its employees, including competitive and equitable compensation and benefits, a good work-life balance, training and growth opportunities,” the agency said in a release.

VIA Rail secured the top position as the best employer in the air and rail passenger transportation industry. “Our outstanding employees are a close-knit community of passionate individuals who share a love for trains, travel, and a common mission of putting passengers first,” said VIA Rail President and CEO Mario Péloquin. “They are the backbone of VIA Rail, and that is a strong motivation to continue providing the best employee experience we can.”

“We believe in creating a positive employee experience and an inclusive culture that nurtures a strong sense of belonging,” added Mathieu Paquette, Chief Human Resources Officer. “We are committed to providing equity in our work environment, where the uniqueness of each individual is valued, empowering them to reach their full potential.”

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