2023 Federal Advocacy Program – County Connection

2023 Federal Advocacy Program

The Federal Advocacy Program is a set of initiatives and proposed funding championed by County Connection, in step with the values and goals of providing equitable and accessible public transportation for all. Each year, leadership from County Connection and regional elected officials travel to Washington D.C. to advocate for the needs of our agency and the financial support needed to carry out operations within Central Contra Costa County. All planning is reviewed by our Board of Directors.

Image of County Connection Bus, Route 99X with bicycles on front rack.

For 2023, we have prioritized the following points: 

  1. FY24 Federal Public Transit Appropriations 
    County Connection relies on vital federal funds to support crucial programs such as capital projects, ADA paratransit, lifeline services, and safety in transportation. A fully funded transit program will ensure County Connection can capitalize its transition to an all Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) fleet.  
  1. Re-authorization of FAST ACT   
    The INVEST in America Act is a good start to re-authorization as it increases the federal investment in public transit by 133% over the FAST Act. County Connection continues to hold the re-authorization of FAST as a top priority in order to provide cleaner, reliable buses. 
  1. Looming Fiscal Cliff
    As operators exhaust the federal stimulus funds, many will face a looming fiscal cliff. Collectively, Bay Area transit operators will experience a cumulative financial shortfall of $2.5 – $3.3 billion over the next five years.  County Connection supports greater flexibility in future federal funds allowing them to be used for operational endeavors.    
  1. Restore the Federal Highway & Mass Transit Fund  
    Without a reliable and sustainable trust fund, many transit projects will be at risk.   
  1. Directed Spending Request(s) 
    County Connection will make a directed spending request to enhance and move forward the Authority’s efforts in electrification, including additional electric vehicle charging infrastructure, energy generation, and storage to the facilities. 

Planning for the future of public transit

The Short-Range Transit Plan (SRTP) is County Connection’s operations and financial planning document. In order to effectively execute planning and programming responsibilities, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) requires each transit operator receiving federal funding through the Regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to prepare, adopt, and submit an SRTP to MTC every four years in order to remain eligible to receive federal funding.

The California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) rule requires all public transit agencies to gradually transition to a 100 percent zero‐emission bus (ZEB) fleet. Based on outcomes of the zero-emission fleet transition planning study completed by the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), County Connection plans to transition its fleet to a mix of battery electric buses (BEB) and fuel cell electric buses (FCEB).

The FY 2023 Budget proposes $47 million in operations expenses for fixed route and paratransit with revenues to offset these costs. An additional $28 million is proposed in capital expenditures and associated revenue in the budget year. The County Connection Board of Directors anticipates reviewing a Draft FY24 Budget in April 2023. Check back here for updates on that report.

The One-Seat Regional Ride Program aims to streamline current regional ride practices by eliminating required transfers for trips that cross multiple transit service areas. With the new program, passengers can have one-seat for the entire duration of their trip. Participating in the service is Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, operators of Tri Delta Transit, Western Contra Costa Transit Authority, operators of WestCAT, and Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority, operators of Wheels Bus.

As a federal grant recipient, County Connection is required to maintain and provide to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) information on its compliance with the Title VI regulations. County Connection must perform a self-assessment every three years and to document that services and benefits are provided in a non-discriminatory manner.