Following weeks of intensive advocacy in the Bay Area and Sacramento, the Bay Area Council hailed yesterday’s pivotal vote by the Assembly Transportation Committee on a bill that could lead to $4.2 billion in new funding to help ease the Bay Area’s traffic and commuter nightmare. The bill—SB 595 authored by state Sen. Jim Beall—would authorize a regional, nine-county ballot measure in June 2018 for a toll increase on state-run bridges in the Bay Area that a recent poll found was supported by 56 percent of voters (and requires a simple majority). The Council provided key testimony in support of the legislation at the hearing and has worked closely over the past few months with Bay Area legislators and many other stakeholders to shape the plan and help get it closer to the finish line.

“We’re one step closer to taking a big leap forward in addressing the region’s transportation and traffic crisis,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “With the funding that a regional toll increase would generate we can make important investments to expand mass transit like BART, Caltrain and ferries, ease congestion on traffic-clogged freeways and address the number one frustration plaguing Bay Area commuters.”

With the Committee’s approval, the bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for a vote and, with approval, to the Assembly floor later this summer for final approval before heading to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The passage of SB 595 would set the stage for a region-wide vote in 2018, which the Council would play a leading role in organizing. Voters have approved two previous, similar measures. To learn more about the Council’s transportation policy work, contact Policy Director Emily Loper.