Executive Director's Report

 

Executive Director's Report - February 2020

NVTA Board and Community Members:

 

Staff Promotion

NVTA congratulates staff member, Rebecca Schenck, who has been promoted to Transit Manager effective January 9th. Rebecca holds a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina and has worked in both the transit and project branches of NVTA since she joined the agency in 2016. Most recently, Rebecca worked as a Principal Planner on various projects, including the Vine Trail and Soscol Junction. Before joining NVTA, Rebecca worked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC where she coordinated capital project implementation activities from planning to post-construction. She is excited to apply the best practices in planning and development she learned as a consultant and staff member in larger cities, to improve the daily transit experience for Napa County residents and visitors. Rebecca lives in the City of Napa with her husband and two children.

Imola Corridor Funding

Caltrans’ District 4 has selected the Imola Corridor complete street improvements project, securing almost $5 million in State Highway Operations and Protection Program (SHOPP) funds for bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Imola Avenue between Soscol Avenue (SR 221) and SR 29.  The improvements will be drawn from the Imola Corridor Complete Streets Plan which was an effort funded by Caltrans and led by NVTA in coordination with the City of Napa, the County of Napa, and Caltrans.  The plan identified $14 million in improvements. This $5 million commitment will provide significant improvements for the community making the corridor a more walkable, bikeable, and livable. I want to acknowledge NVTA staff member, Diana Meehan, for her efforts in securing these funds and leading the planning effort.

Caltrans has committed to programming SHOPP funds for complete street improvements on highway segments serving as main streets throughout the State. The state has set aside $100 million for that effort to date. 

Vine Maintenance Facility Update

The City of American Canyon will supply the water to the new Vine Maintenance Facility on Sheehy Court. At its meeting on January 19, the City of American Canyon Council agreed to waive its $171,000 Water Capacity Fee for the Vine Maintenance Facility. City staff have also agreed to work with us on the Water Footprint Policy fee estimated to be roughly $27 K, and in exchange, NVTA will help market American Canyon’s water conservation efforts on the interior of Vine Buses and on its website.  On behalf of the NVTA Board and Staff, I’d like to thank the American City Council and staff for supporting the Napa Vine Maintenance Facility project.

Vine Trail Update

On January 15, 2021, Caltrans cleared the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) Categorical Exclusion for the Calistoga to St. Helena Segment of the Vine Trail.  The project is on target for releasing the invitation to bid (IFB) in April with contract award scheduled in the summer of 2021.  I invite members of the public to attend the NVTA February board meeting when NVTA Engineering Manager, Sanjay Mishra, will provide the Board with a comprehensive update on the Vine Trail progress. 

Blue Ribbon Task Force Update

The Task Force is comprised of 34 public and private members, including NVTA Chair/Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Vice Chair Alfredo Pedroza.

The Task Force was convened in a response to the transit crisis brought on by the Coronavirus Pandemic, however, its scope reaches beyond the response and will also be looking at some historical root issues with the Bay Area Transit system to improve the experience of the rider, to seek funding efficiencies and to ensure that the Bay Area’s transit system is sustainable – both now as we navigate these challenging times but also in the future.

To date, the task force has overseen the distribution of the first stimulus bill – the CARES Act and created a safety plan to protect the health of transit riders and workers. It is now focused on identifying ways to improve the region’s transit system, to ensure sustainability and system equity. It has also established a set of goals and received a number of presentations.

NVTA staff have participated in a number of staff-level working groups.  The primary focus is to ensure system equity and providing mobility to the region’s most vulnerable populations. Additional pursuits emerging from the discussions include:

  • Legislative oversight - State elected and appointed officials including Assembly member Chiu from San Francisco, have been working with Seamless Bay Area and introduced legislation last year prior to pandemic that would have mandated certain structures be put in place to improve Bay Area transit service. It is hoped that the outcome of the work that the Blue Ribbon Task Force is doing will eliminate the need for additional legislative oversight.
  • Consolidating Transit Systems - There is interest by some of the Blue Ribbon Task Force members to consolidate certain transit systems, but many others recognize that consolidation may not be appropriate for all counties and for all transit systems. There is general acknowledgement that there is a need for efficiencies and improved system coordination but the transit general managers and the MTC Executive Director have pointed out that there are a number of efforts already underway. Those efforts include Clipper – a common fare media card used by all Bay Area systems, Wayfinding and Mapping efforts, coordinating schedules, Connected Mobility, and Fare Coordination. NVTA staff participates in all of these efforts.
  • Improving connection - There are several advocacy organizations that sit on the committee, including members from transit advocacy groups such as Transform and Seamless Bay Area, the business community, including representation from the Bay Area Council and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group that would like to see a more connected and functioning system. This group largely has representation from the central Bay Area and is interested in focused transportation where ridership demand is highest.

Two Blue Ribbon Task Force Ad Hoc groups will work to distill the issues into a problem statement and understand what body/individual and what role that body/individual should have to oversee the Bay Area Transit System.

The pandemic has posed many challenges in the last year. We, along with our partner agencies, are working to ensure the best possible outcome for Bay Area transit users.  We are also thinking a lot about our community, its people, its businesses, and industries during this difficult time.

Stay well.

 

Sincerely,

Kate Miller

Napa Valley Transportation Authority