The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, or MTC, released the draft for its 2023 Public Participation Plan and is inviting the public to share feedback during a comment period of several weeks.
Riders have until 5 p.m. Monday, April 10 to review and comment on the proposed draft via an online survey posted on the MTC’s website or by contacting the agency directly. There is also a phone line with English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Spanish options that individuals can call to leave messages that will be be entered into the official record.
“The document itself functions as a summary of who we engage with and how we engage,” said Leslie Lara-Enríquez, MTC assistant director for public engagement. “It also provides an opportunity to see how the agency actually functions so that folks are aware and can get involved at any point in any given process.”
MTC serves as the planning, coordinating and financing agency for all transportation in the nine counties that constitute the Bay Area. Because the entity receives federal funds, it is required to provide a platform for public feedback on proposed plans, according to Lara-Enríquez.
Several years ago, MTC adopted an “equity platform” framework that acknowledges past decisions in guiding the agency’s public engagement activities. The equity platform creates a more inclusive and livable Bay Area for all residents regardless of race or income, Lara-Enríquez said.
The plan is divided into seven chapters, with one dedicated to techniques for increasing participation from marginalized groups such as low-literacy populations, low-income communities, communities of color and Indigenous groups.
However, despite MTC’s goals towards increasing accessibility, other transportation officials have called attention to aspects of the plan they believe are lacking.
“It’s a start,” said David Sorrell, campus transportation demand management administrator. “But I think there’s things that are left out in terms of techniques for involving low literacy populations, low income communities and communities of color. Those access issues also need to address the unbanked as well as those without consistent internet and cell phone service.”
Sorrell added that MTC has “left out” universities and students in its prior public participation plans and thinks the 2023 draft is still lacking in acknowledgment of student populations.
Last month, campus partnered with BART for the implementation of the Clipper BayPass program, which saw a 40% increase in ridership; the majority was fueled by UC Berkeley students.
“Judging from our efforts with the BayPass program, in addition to the EZ Pass program that we already had the students vote for, we still need to do more and it starts with MTC in terms of better transit programs, affordability pilots and things like that,” Sorrell said.
Adina Levin, advocacy director of Seamless Bay Area, said the structure MTC has for gathering input can lack clear direction that can make it harder for riders to find specific information they are looking for.
MTC has faced past criticism for an alleged lack of cohesion, as the department controls 27 transportation agencies in the region, a Seamless Bay Area post said.
MTC hopes to have the Public Participation Plan updated before the launch of Plan Bay Area 2050, the program’s long-range regional plan with a mission of sustainability and inclusivity.
“We want folks to review the plan, let us see what they think, see if we missed anything. If we need to change anything, if they like our strategies or dislike them,” Lara-Enríquez said.