Even before the COVID pandemic, transit operators, mechanics, and transit support workers faced some of the most challenging working conditions in the country. The pandemic demonstrated the critical role transit workers play in getting essential workers to their jobs and providing mobility for transit-dependent communities, such as seniors and people with disabilities, all while placing their own health and the health of their families at risk. These burdens fall primarily on the women and people of color who make up a disproportionate share of the transit workforce. The California Transit Association, which represents more than 200 agencies, reports the labor shortage is hindering restoration of full-service and future-service expansion across the state, and warns that the impact could harden economic disparities due to the demographics of riders.
Urban Habitat and our community and labor partners have focused on two primary strategies to help restore and expand transit service post-COVID:
- Stabilize and increase the revenue base for public transit; and
- Strengthen and expand the transit workforce and provide quality green jobs to address Bay Area economic and racial inequities.
Our recovery campaign included successful advocacy for the creation of a regional health and safety plan for Bay Area transit operators. We organized and coordinated with allies and transit operator unions across the Bay Area to pressure the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) for a timely allocation of approximately $2 billion dollars in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and CARES Act funding to ensure that Bay Area transit agencies, battered by two years of pandemic-related ridership and revenue losses, could sustain operations. We continue to work to restore transit service to pre-pandemic levels and to plan for future revenue measures to expand service.