Caltrain Electrification Meeting
Oakland, March 1
I hosted a meeting of officials from the California High Speed Rail Authority and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to discuss ways to close the funding shortfall for the Caltrain electrification project that is scheduled to begin construction later this year. The meeting was quite productive, and a follow-up session will be scheduled in the next several weeks.
McMillan Announces Resignation
Washington DC, March 3
Former MTC Deputy Director Therese McMillan announced that she is resigning from her position as Acting FTA Administrator to become the Chief Planning Officer for the Los Angeles MTA. She will be heading west in April. We will certainly miss her in Washington, but are happy to welcome her back to her home state – even if it is to Dodgertown.
Federal Advocacy Visits
Washington DC, March 14-16
Chair Cortese, Vice Chair Mackenzie, and Commissioners Aguirre, Haggerty, Kinsey and Spering participated in our 37th annual lobbying trip to Washington to meet with members of the Bay Area Congressional Delegation as well as some of our national association partners such as APTA, Smart Growth America, the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, and ITS America. Our Report to Congress can be found at the following link: http://mtc.ca.gov/our-work/advocate-lead/state-and-federal-advocacy
SEPTA Site Visit
Philadelphia, March 16
From Washington, Carol Kuester and I caught an Amtrak train up to Philadelphia to learn about the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) project to launch a smart card similar to Clipper. Their project is called the Key Card and, like our own efforts, has encountered quite a few obstacles along the way.
This month’s map depicts the real costs of living in California’s communities, as defined by a recent report released by the United Way of California titled: Struggling to Get By. Key findings in this report show that one in three California households (31%) do not have sufficient income to meet their basic costs of living. This is nearly three times the number officially considered poor according to the Federal Poverty Level. Families with inadequate incomes are found throughout California, but are most concentrated in the northern coastal region, the Central Valley, and in the southern metropolitan areas.
The costs for the same family composition in different geographic regions of California also vary widely. In expensive regions such as the San Francisco Bay Area and the Southern California coastal region, the Real Cost Budget, a monthly budget calculation of what is needed to meet basic needs, can range from 32% to 48% more (depending on family type) than in less expensive counties such as Kern, Tulare, and Kings counties. Nevertheless, incomes in the higher cost regions are also higher, relatively and absolutely, so that the proportions below the Real Cost Measure are generally lower in high-cost than low-cost regions.