Through Senate Bill 45, Caltrans and the Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs) like SBCTA are given more authority to select projects and allocate funds. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) has ultimate approval over the allocation of most funds, but the identification and selection of projects, as well as the establishment of priorities rests with Caltrans or the RTPAs—for San Bernardino County this is Caltrans District 8 and SBCTA.
One of the key roles played by SBCTA in funding of transportation improvements is its involvement in the development of the STIP. The STIP is a five (5) year program of transportation projects that is formally updated through the combined efforts of Regional Agencies, Caltrans, and the CTC every two (2) years. Funding levels for the STIP have varied from year to year depending on the overall economic situation at the Federal and State levels. Although SB1 does not provide new funding for the STIP, it does stabilize the historically volatile funding source. SB1 also includes indexing fuel taxes to inflation in future years to stop the degradation of STIP funding revenue.
By State law, SBCTA is responsible for developing the list of projects to be funded in the county with RIP Funds, which comprise 75 percent of the STIP Funds available Statewide. The CTC approves the program of projects developed by SBCTA. SBCTA is also permitted to allocate up to 5 percent for planning, programming, and monitoring activities.
The remaining 25 percent of STIP funding is programmed by Caltrans and similarly subject to approval by the CTC. SBCTA works with Caltrans District 8 to develop a list of projects for consideration.
On April 28, 2017, the Governor signed SB1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, providing an estimated $52.5 billion Statewide over the following decade, which is the first significant, stable, and on-going increase in State transportation funding in more than two (2) decades. SB1 aims to improve California’s transportation system by finding a balance of revenues and reforms to ensure the economic impact of increased funding is fairly distributed and that the revenue addresses the State’s highest transportation needs. The bill provides a comprehensive and multi-modal funding package with revenue set asides for highways, local streets and roads, goods movement projects, active transportation projects, and transit projects and services through a variety of formula and competitive programs managed by numerous State departments and agencies.
The SCCP provides funding to achieve a balanced set of transportation, environmental, and community access improvements to reduce congestion throughout the State. This Statewide, competitive program makes $250 million available annually for projects that implement specific transportation performance improvements and are part of a comprehensive corridor plan by providing more transportation choices while preserving the character of local communities and creating opportunities for neighborhood enhancement.
The LPP provides local and regional transportation agencies that have passed sales tax measures and developer fees or other imposed transportation fees with a continuous appropriation of $200 million annually to fund road maintenance and rehabilitation, sound walls, and other transportation improvement projects. Program funds will be distributed through a 40 percent statewide competitive component and a 60 percent formula component. SBCTA’s formulaic share is currently $5.8 million per year.
The TCEP provides approximately $300 million per year in State funding for projects that more efficiently enhance the movement of goods along corridors that have a high freight volume. Subsequent legislation combined these funds with existing Federal National Highway Freight Program (NHFP) Funds of approximately $535 million for Fiscal Years 2017/2018-2019/2020.
The SGR provides approximately $105 million per year in State funding for capital assistance to rehabilitate and modernize California’s existing local transit systems, with a focus on upgrading, repairing, and maintaining transit infrastructure in a State of Good Repair. The formulaic revenue estimate provided to SBCTA by the State Controller’s Office (SCO) for Fiscal Year 2020/2021 is $3.6 million. The SGR Program includes an inflation adjustment. The SCO distributes these funds using the State Transit Assistance Fund (STA) distribution formula.
The passage of Proposition 1B, the Highway, Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006, approved by the voters in 2006, authorized $19.93 billion in general obligation bond proceeds to be available for high-priority transportation corridor improvements, trade infrastructure and port security projects, school bus retrofit and replacement purposes, STIP augmentation, transit and passenger rail improvements, State-local partnership transportation projects, transit security projects, local bridge seismic retrofit projects, highway-railroad grade separation and crossing improvement projects, State highway safety and rehabilitation projects, and local street and road improvement, congestion relief, and traffic safety. Most of these programs were scheduled to have been fully allocated by the CTC by June 2013.
The TDA authorizes two (2) important revenue sources, the Local Transportation Fund (LTF) and State Transit Assistance Fund (STAF), to support local transit service and investments, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and local street improvement projects.
SBCTA is responsible for administering LTF. LTF is derived from one-quarter cent of the sales tax collected within the County of San Bernardino. The adopted LTF apportionment for Fiscal Year 2020/2021 is $83.8 million. As the LTF-administering agency, SBCTA receives funding from LTF for its administrative functions, including the fiscal and compliance audits of all recipients of LTF. SBCTA also receives up to 3 percent of LTF, which for Fiscal Year 2020/2021 is $2.5 million, for planning and programming activities during the fiscal year. As administrator of LTF, SBCTA also makes allocations to the following programs.
Under Article 3 of the TDA, 2 percent of the annual LTF apportionment is designated to fund pedestrian and bicycle facilities, bicycle safety programs, bicycle trails, bicycle lockers, or racks and for the development of a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian facilities plan. SBCTA conducts biennial “calls for projects” with 10 percent set aside for maintenance and 20 percent set aside for transit access improvements. This fund is also used by SBCTA to provide matching funds to local agencies for grant opportunities from the State’s Active Transportation Program.
After administration, planning, and pedestrian and bicycle apportionments have been determined, the balance of LTF is apportioned by SBCTA in accordance with California Public Utilities Code Section 99231 to areas/jurisdictions on a per capita basis to support transit and street projects. In Fiscal Year 2020/2021, 73 percent of the remaining balance, or $72.8 million, has been apportioned to the San Bernardino Valley and will be used exclusively for public transportation operations and capital improvements for Omnitrans, Metrolink, and other rail and bus projects. The remaining 27 percent, or $27.1 million, is apportioned to the Mountain/Desert Transit Operators. If a finding is made that all transit needs are being reasonably met, LTF not expended for transit purposes can be expended for street and road projects in certain areas as defined in statute.
STA revenue had historically been derived from a portion of the sales tax on gasoline and diesel. After years of declining revenues, SB1 stabilized the STA program and provided additional funds to transit operators to help fund operations and capital projects. The revenue estimate provided to SBCTA by the SCO for Fiscal Year 2020/2021 is $22.5 million. Of this, $19 million is distributed to the Valley and Mountain/Desert areas on a population basis and $3.5 million is apportioned by the State to individual operators based on qualifying revenues.
LCTOP is one of several programs that are part of the Transit, Affordable Housing, and Sustainable Communities Program established by the California Legislature in 2014 by Senate Bill 862 (SB862). LCTOP was created to provide transit operating and capital assistance to eligible project sponsors in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve mobility, with a priority on serving disadvantaged communities. This program is funded by auction proceeds from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Cap-and-Trade Program where proceeds are deposited into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). The revenue estimate provided to SBCTA by the SCO for Fiscal Year 2020/2021 is $4 million. These funds are distributed to the Valley and Mountain/Desert areas on a population basis with $2.9 million available to the Valley and $1.1 million available to the Mountain/Desert for Fiscal Year 2020/2021. Since the revenue available for this program is based on auction proceeds, this is not a stable fund source from year to year.