New NVTA Board Chair and Vice Chair
Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza will succeed Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning as Chair of the NVTA Board. Pedroza was selected at the Board’s June 17th meeting, and City of Napa Councilmember Liz Alessio will replace Pedroza as Vice Chair.
NVTA is applying to three grant programs to backfill the $35 million shortfall needed to complete the Soscol Junction project. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission selected this project as a rural project priority for the Senate Bill 1 Solutions for Congested Corridor (SCC) Grant Program. This designation opens up another source of potential funding, through the SB 1 SCC grant funds from the California Transportation Commission. NVTA awarded the design contract to GHD and Caltrans (structures) in March.
NVTA has applied for $300,000 in MTC’s Housing Incentive Program. If approved, this will complete the funding package for the Imola Park and Ride project. This project will upgrade the existing park and ride at Imola and Golden Gate adjacent to SR 29, improve passenger facilities on the highway ramps, and add pedestrian facilities connecting the northbound and southbound ramps on the south side of Imola. It will be 100% designed this summer and break ground as early as this fall.
Vine ridership continues to be down, in reaction to the COVID-19 crisis. Ridership in the City of Napa and on regional service Routes 10 and 11 is down 63%, express bus services are down 46%, and ADA services are down 89%. The fixed route system in the City of Napa transitioned in April to provide stop to stop on-demand service, using the Ride the Vine app. The app is available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
NVTA Finances and MTC’s Blue Ribbon Task Force
Sales tax generates approximately 65% of NVTA’s revenues. Sales tax projections are grim, indicating a 14-27% reduction from prior-year levels. The March figures reported are down 20% over projected figures. All of NVTA’s revenues are going to be significantly down, except for some block grants for planning. The NVTA board approved a two-year budget at its meeting in May, which projected a $2.9 million combined shortfall for the FYs 2020-21 and 2021-22, even with the $2.7 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act factored in. The budget proposes backfilling the shortfall with reserves and cutting transit operations and staffing.
Blue Ribbon Task Force
The revenues from the federal CARES stimulus bill are being distributed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in two tranches. The first tranche, in which NVTA received $2.7 million, has been distributed. The second tranche will be determined, based on future need, by a Blue Ribbon Task Force Committee appointed by MTC. The Task Force will also identify ways that the 28 Bay Area transit systems can work together to improve connections and create a seamless transit experience for riders.
The task force is made up of elected representatives serving on the Commission, California State Transportation Agency Director David Kim, MTC staff, general managers from transit agencies, and transit advocates representing various interests. Representatives from the North Bay include the Chair; Solano County Supervisor, Jim Spering; Napa County Supervisor, MTC Vice Chair, and NVTA Board Chair, Alfredo Pedroza; Sonoma County Supervisor and Commissioner, David Rabbitt; Bay Area County Transportation Agencies Chair, Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director, Daryl Hall; Golden Gate Bridge and Highway Transportation District General Manager, Denis Mulligan; and Marin Transit General Manager, Nancy Whelan.
The Task Force has had two meetings. Assembly Member Chui and Senator Beal both addressed the first meeting of the Task Force pledging their support for its efforts. Outcomes of the first meeting included a mutual understanding that:
1- COVID-19 has created an unprecedented public transit crisis.
2- Broad support exists for the Task Force to guide regional transit recovery.
3- Safe and healthy transit protocols are essential across all systems.
4- Addressing the mobility needs of low-income and vulnerable riders is a priority.
5- CARES Act Phase 2 funds must be delivered expeditiously.
6- This effort will reach out to frequent transit users and other constituencies that are not specifically represented on the Task Force.
The second Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting focused on developing regional safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers for public health purposes, and to restore patronage to the systems. MTC also provided an overview of potential formulas for distributing the balance of the CARES Act funds; one based on revenue shortfall and the other based on equity (percentage of low-income riders.
We continue to uphold a high standard of safety for passengers and staff at NVTA. Our riders and staff members are observing face-covering requirements on board our vehicles and at NVTA facilities. Our transit maintenance team continues to clean vehicles and high touch facility surfaces nightly with a CDC-approved disinfectant. Social distancing measures, such as limited passenger loads, waived fares, and rear boarding remain in place.
I’d like to thank our incredible riders for wearing masks, being patient with us and one another, and trusting us to keep them moving during this difficult time.