Metropolitan Transportation Commission Discretionary Transit Funding Methods Evaluation

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Metropolitan Transportation Commission Discretionary Transit Funding Methods Evaluation


In 2021, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) approached the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) with a proposal to have MTI provide an evaluation of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC’s) operational discretionary funding allocation policies and methods for Bay Area transit operators. The research was done in two parts. Part 1 investigated MTC’s past and current allocation methods for discretionary operational transit funding programs; Part 2 involved the evaluation of outcomes if MTC employed alternative allocation methods. After the Part 1 review of MTC’s various transit funding programs, the federal pandemic relief funds and the Transportation Development Act/State Transit Assistance (TDA/STA) funding programs were selected and evaluated in Part 2 using a set of five alternative allocation metrics and compared to actual MTC allocations. Key findings include: (1) the population-based metric produced the largest increase for VTA’s pandemic relief funds, with VTA receiving 221 percent more than MTC actually allocated in 2020 and 2021, but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) receiving 64 percent less; (2) the ridership-based metric yielded the smallest amount of VTA pandemic funding, but high ridership operators such as SFMTA would have a 41 percent increase; (3) the population-based metric produced the largest increase in STA funding to VTA but would come at the expense of other transit operators, with Sonoma County receiving 51 percent less; and (4) the ridership-based metric yielded the smallest amount of STA funds for VTA, with 50 percent less funding than actual, while high ridership operators such as SFMTA, would see a roughly 400 percent increase. Thoroughly investigating current and alternative funding allocation methods and policies is critical to understanding their effects on transit agencies and the communities they serve.



Dr. Ferrell began his career in 1995 as a planner for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). He completed his doctoral studies in City and Regional Planning at the University of California at Berkeley in 2005 and worked as a consultant with Dowling Associates, Inc. for 10 years before leaving to help form CFA Consultants in 2010. He is currently a principal, board member, and executive director of the Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities Research and Policy Institute, a 501c3 nonprofit. He has been the principal investigator for eight research projects for the Mineta Transportation Institute, where he has been a Research Associate since 2005. His research focuses on the relationships between transportation and land use, livability, travel behavior, transportation policy, and planning-related institutional structures. His research experience includes the study of multimodal transit and freeway corridors, best practices for building successful transit-oriented development, the effects of transit-oriented development on surrounding property values, the effects of neighborhood crimes on transportation mode choice, and a set of methods, metrics and strategies for evaluating transit corridor livability. As a practitioner, he has planned mixed-use, infill and transit-oriented development projects, analyzed the impacts of specific and general plans, planned and implemented intelligent transportation systems, and developed bicycle and pedestrian plans. He has taught several quantitative methods classes in the San José State University Urban Planning Department and a course in transportation and land use in the City and Regional Planning Department at the University of California at Berkeley.


Mr. Eells is a Mineta Institute Research Associate with 44 years of experience preparing comprehensive transportation plans and developing sustainable transportation projects at the local and regional level. John’s experience includes 2 years in the Legislative Analyst Office in the California State Legislature, 5 years with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), 7 years as the Transportation Planning Coordinator for Marin County, and 30 years as a consultant. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a master’s degree in City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. John has assisted in preparing Regional Transportation Plans for Sacramento and Lake Tahoe and reviewed Regional Transportation Plans throughout California for conformance with State greenhouse gas reduction requirements for the California Attorney General’s Office. He participated in a joint effort by Caltrans and the California Council on Science and Technology to develop a proposal for a new California Center for Transportation Innovation to coordinate transportation research activities in California. John has also managed major multi-modal transportation studies, evaluated the feasibility of proposed ferry services, and worked on the implementation of several rail transit projects including the Sacramento Light Rail project, the ACE Commuter Rail Service from Stockton to San José, the SMART Commuter Rail Service from Cloverdale to Larkspur, the proposed AMTRAK service from Oakland to Reno, and the proposed high speed Maglev Service from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. 


Mr. Reinke is a transportation engineer/economist with over 40 years of experience in travel-demand modeling, transportation economics, survey design and management, database management, and software engineering. He has worked on a number of leading-edge projects in travel demand and economics, including development of activity-based travel-demand models, development of discrete-choice travel forecasting models, development of microsimulation-based models for analysis of congestion pricing alternatives, and applications of economic methods to transportation policy analysis. His areas of expertise include policy analysis, advanced statistical methods, machine learning methods, economic analysis, survey design and management, and applications of advanced computational techniques to transportation. He is currently a Research Associate with the Mineta Transportation Institute, where he has worked on studies of transit equity and transportation economics. David currently co-chairs the Education and Outreach Subcommittee for the Committee on Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Computing Applications (AED50) at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and is a past member of TRB committees on Statistics, Economics, and Travel Behavior and Values. He is also a member of the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society.


Dr. Lee, a Mineta Institute Research Associate since 1995, has over 30 years of experience as a transportation researcher, academic, and consultant. His work focuses on innovation in the delivery of transportation services and on bringing the results of academic research into practice. Much of his research examines the transportation effects of land use factors, including their efficacy in promoting transit and other alternative modes. Richard works extensively with local, regional, and state agencies as well as private firms to analyze the effects of infrastructure and land development projects and to develop feasible alternatives that promote sustainable transportation choices and meet larger community goals. Richard currently teaches transportation planning at San José State University and has also taught and led transportation research projects at Massey University (New Zealand), UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. 

October 2023
Public Transportation
Transit equity
Transit Finance
Equity Measurement
Pandemic Fiscal Cliff



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